House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows said Tuesday the Trump administration has been informed of the powerful conservative group’s input on potential gun legislation in the wake of the fatal school shooting in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14.
While Republicans lawmakers have highlighted the need for stronger background checks and an examination into the “system failures” that led to the shooting, President Donald Trump recently expressed support for proposals that don’t fully align with his party’s position, including a call to raise the age to buy certain firearms and a ban on bump stocks. Trump has also floated arming teachers in an attempt to stave off school shootings, which has been met with a mixed reception from his party.
Meadows — one of Trump’s closest confidants in Congress — said he discussed the HFC’s stance on Second Amendment rights, noting conservatives make up a large portion of the president’s base.
“We haven’t expressed any concerns about his ideas as much as trying to express where the support is among his voters,” Meadows told reporters. “You know really when you think about the Trump voter, a lot of that’s represented in the Freedom Caucus.”
The North Carolina Republican said the group, which has not taken an official position on possible gun legislation, is currently looking at “six or seven different proposals” in an attempt to find “a fresh new way” to ensure schools are safe.
“I think for all of us, it’s looking at the numbers in terms of the numbers of gun deaths and the numbers of background checks that were avoided, and that’s why when you look at the tragedy in Florida, everybody wants to do something,” he continued. “But I want to make sure we do something that actually prevents it from happening again.”
Meadows said he thinks the president has been “very receptive” to the HFC’s ideas and remains adamant Congress should take action to prevent future mass shootings.
“I can tell you he’s engaging around the clock on this issue. This is a passionate issue for the president and in personal conversations with him, I would characterize his willingness and desire to get something done as unequaled to anything that I’ve seen since he’s been president,” he said, adding he doesn’t think the president will tolerate “long delays and excuses”
House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters Tuesday morning he believes lawmakers need to ensure they aren’t infringing on people’s constitutional rights while taking strides to protect children.
“We shouldn’t be banning guns for law-abiding citizens, we should be focusing on making sure that citizens that should not have guns in the first place don’t get those guns. And that is why we see a big breakdown in the system here,” Ryan said. “In this particular case, there were a lot of breakdowns, from local law enforcement to the FBI getting tips that they didn’t follow-up on to school resource officers who are trained to protect kids in these schools and who didn’t do that — and that one is probably the most stunning one of all.”