Donald Trump left lawmakers on both sides of the aisle bewildered after a televised meeting on gun control in the wake of the deadly mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
On the one hand, the president chastised politicians for being “petrified” of NRA and urged them to get tough on gun reform—expanding background checks, blocking interstate concealed-carry laws, and raising the legal age to buy rifles to 21.
On the other, he reiterated his support for arming teachers and reducing “gun-free zones,” claiming tragedies like the 2016 Pulse massacre would not have happened if more civilians could access firearms.
“You take Pulse nightclub—if you had one person in that room that could carry a gun and knew how to use it, it wouldn’t have happened,” he stated, “Or certainly not to the extent it did, where he was just in there shooting, and shooting and shooting and they were just defenseless.”
Trump made similar claims on CNN just days after the June 12, 2016, massacre.
“If some of those great people that were in the club that night had guns strapped to their waist or strapped to their ankle, and if the bullets were going in the other direction, aimed at this guy who was just open target practice, you would’ve had a situation folks, which would have been always horrible, but nothing like the carnage that we all as a people suffered this weekend.”
But with the chaos and confusion that ensued as gunman Omar Mateen opened fire on clubgoers, more gunfire would’ve likely only added to the number of fatalities. Police officer Adam Gruler was actually in Pulse and armed during the attack, but retreated outside to call for backup when Mateen took hostages.
It’s estimated the NRA contributed $21 million to Trump’s presidential campaign. In April 2017, he told the organization, “You have a true friend and champion in the White House.”