Less than a month ago, President Donald Trump taunted lawmakers for being afraid of the National Rifle Association (NRA). On Monday, it was Trump who was being taunted for submitting to the gun lobby.
Late Sunday, the White House unveiled a handful of proposals ostensibly aimed at reducing gun violence and preventing school shootings, ideas that ranged from providing "rigorous" firearm training to some teachers (a proposal many teachers have denounced) to encouraging "military veterans and retired law enforcement officers to take up careers in education."
Notably absent, though, was any support for raising the minimum age required to purchase an assault rifle from 18 to 21—an idea Trump previously floated despite admitting it is "not a popular thing" to the NRA. Most Americans believe "assault-style weapons" should be banned altogether.
A senior White House official said the age requirement would be explored by the new Federal Commission on School Safety, an initiative announced just after Trump mocked commissions as effectively useless in the fight against the opioid crisis.
As notes, the set of policy proposals endorsed by the White House Sunday "generally fall in line with what the NRA supports in the wake of the massacre last month at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that killed 17 people."of the Huffington Post
The White House's "announcement was completely inadequate and showed profound lack of leadership," the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, a gun control advocacy group, wrote on Twitter late Sunday.
Hours after they were made public, Trump took to Twitter Monday morning to defend the White House proposals, claiming that the exclusion of the minimum age requirement was due to lack of "political support."
"States are making this decision," Trump wrote.
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Very strong improvement and strengthening of background checks will be fully backed by White House. Legislation moving forward. Bump Stocks will soon be out. Highly trained expert teachers will be allowed to conceal carry, subject to State Law. Armed guards OK, deterrent!.......— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 12, 2018
....On 18 to 21 Age Limits, watching court cases and rulings before acting. States are making this decision. Things are moving rapidly on this, but not much political support (to put it mildly).— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 12, 2018
If by "political support" the president was referring to support from Republican lawmakers and the gun lobby, then his statement was accurate: Attempts to raise the minimum gun purchasing age to 21 have drawn fierce opposition from the NRA and its benefactors in Congress.
The public, however, is broadly supportive of raising the age limit. According to an NPR/Ipsos poll published earlier this month, 82 percent of the public supports "raising the legal age to purchase guns from 18 to 21," and 72 percent believe "assault-style weapons" should be banned altogether.
According to a recent SurveyMonkey poll, it is Trump's desire to arm teachers that is unpopular: A majority of Americans believe that allowing school officials to carry weapons would make schools more dangerous, not less.
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) concluded that the White House's retreat from raising the minimum gun purchasing age is just "more evidence Donald Trump is scared of the NRA."