Washington, DC – President Donald Trump’s Wednesday meeting with legislators to discuss then nation’s gun laws went quickly sideways after the President called a Republican senator “afraid of the NRA” and advocated confiscating guns from the mentally ill.
"I don't want mentally ill people to be having guns," President Trump said. "Take the guns first, go through due process second."
The President said the legal process can take too long to stop mass shooters like the 19 year old who murdered 17 students and faculty on Valentine’s Day at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
The meeting appeared to go off the rails when Vice President Mike Pence was talking about how those who are a “danger to themselves or others” should have guns taken away – but still be afforded due process, The Daily Beast reported.
The President jumped in, cutting off Vice President Pence, and made a suggestion that critics are calling a subversion of due process.
“Or, Mike, take the firearms first, and then go to court,” President Trump said. “Because that's another system. Because a lot of times, by the time you go to court, it takes so long to go to court, to get the due process procedures.”
“I like taking the guns early. Like in this crazy man’s case that just took place in Florida… To go to court would have taken a long time. So you could do exactly what you're saying, but take the guns first, go through due process second,” the President reiterated.
"They have so many checks and balances that you can be mentally ill and it takes you six months before you can prohibit it," he said. "Number one, you can take the guns away immediately from people that you can judge easily are mentally ill, like this guy. The police saw that he was a problem, they didn't take any guns away.... think they should have taken them away anyway, whether they had the right on not."
The President’s complete dismissal of due process wasn’t the only part of the meeting that shocked Republican voters and lawmakers.
When the discussion turned to legislation to improve the background check process, President Trump had questions about the 2012 bill that failed after the elementary school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut.
He asked that bill’s co-sponsor – Senator Patrick Toomey (R – Pennsylvania) – if that background check bill would have raised the age for buying assault weapons.
When Toomey told him that it would not have, President Trump accused him of being afraid of the National Rifle Association (NRA).
“They have great power over you people,” President Trump said. “They have less power over me.”
When the President suggested that uber-liberal Senator Diane Feinstein’s (D – California) assault weapons ban should be added to the new background check legislation proposed by Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R – Texas), Democratic lawmakers at the table actually became giddy.
President Trump made numerous suggestions about what to add and delete from the bill that he told lawmakers to rename the “the U.S. Background Check Bill.” He warned Republicans not to try and add in concealed-carry reciprocity that is currently pending in other Congressional bills.
"I'm with you, but let it be a separate bill," President Trump said. "If you add concealed carry to this bill, you'll never get it passed. We want to get something done."
Republican lawmakers left the meeting feeling confusion and disbelief.
Democratic gun opponents were cautiously optimistic.
NBC News tweeted that Senator Amy Klobuchar (D – Minnesota) said the meeting was “positive with acknowledgment that he’s backed down before,” but that post was deleted on Wednesday evening.