President Donald Trump on Monday told the nation's governors not to worry about the National Rifle Association because "they're on our side," adding that he and the organization are ready to make certain changes to U.S. gun laws in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, earlier this month.
Trump met with the governors at the White House as part of the National Governors Association Winter Meeting, where gun policy topped the gathering's agenda.
"We must strive to create a culture in our country that cherishes life and condemns violence and embraces dignity," Trump said.
The president revealed at the meeting that he had lunch over the weekend with top NRA officials, including CEO Wayne LaPierre.
"I had lunch with Wayne Lapierre, Chris Cox, and David Lehman of the NRA, and I want to tell you, they want to do something," Trump said. "I said, ‘Fellas, we've got to do something. It's too long now; we've got to do something.' And we are going to do very strong background checks, very strong. We got to do background checks. If we see a sicko, I don't want him having a gun."
Trump praised NRA leaders as "great patriots," adding that he thinks they will do something quickly to strengthen background checks and prevent people with mental health problems from obtaining firearms.
"I know there was a time when anybody could have one," Trump said. "Even if they were sick, they were fighting. And I said, ‘Fellas, we can't do it anymore.' And there's no bigger fan of the Second Amendment than me; there's no bigger fan of the NRA. And these guys are great patriots; they're great people. And they want to do something, they're going to do something, and they're going to do it, I think, quickly. I think they want to see, but we don't want to have sick people having the right to have a gun."
"Plus when we see somebody is sick like this guy [the alleged Florida shooter, Nikolas Cruz] when the police went to see him, they didn't do a good job, but they have restrictions on what they can do," Trump said. "We got to give them immediate access to taking those guns away so that they don't just leave and he sits there with seven different weapons. Gotta give them immediate access."
Trump then told the nation's governors not to worry about or be intimidated by the NRA.
"Don't worry about the NRA; they're on our side," Trump said. "Half of you are so afraid of the NRA. There's nothing to be afraid of. And you know what, if they're not with you, we have to fight them every once in a while. That's OK. They are doing what they think is right. I will tell you, they are doing what they think is right."