President Donald Trump criticized police for not doing more to prevent a mass shooting at a Florida high school, arguing they should have taken the shooter’s guns away “whether they had the right or not.”
During a bipartisan meeting with lawmakers on gun control Wednesday, Trump suggested guns should be taken away “immediately from people that you can judge easily are mentally ill,” alluding to the Florida shooter, who had undergone a psychiatric evaluation in 2016 but was ultimately not hospitalized.
“The police saw that he was a problem, they didn’t take any guns away,” Trump said. “Now that could have been policing, but they should have taken them away anyway, whether they had the right or not.”
He doubled down on the claim later in the meeting after Vice President Mike Pence spoke about due process and giving local law enforcement more leeway to obtain a court order to collect firearms from potentially dangerous people.
“Mike, take the firearms first and then go to court, because that’s another system,” Trump said. “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.”
Trump often seemed to be more in agreement with Democrats than Republicans during the meeting, as was clear by Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-Calif.) delighted expression during much of the event.
Trump shot down Rep. Steve Scalise’s (R-La.) suggestion to add concealed carry reciprocity to a background check bill, telling him, “You’ll never get it passed.” He also chided Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) for being “afraid” of the National Rifle Association.
He was, however, on board with Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s (D-Minn.) request to provide domestic violence victims with more protections against gun violence, and Feinstein’s suggestion to add an assault weapons ban to legislation.
Trump also repeatedly questioned former President Barack Obama’s efforts on gun control on Wednesday. He kicked off the meeting by listing mass shootings that had taken place under other presidents, and called out Obama by name while discussing the Manchin-Toomey bill.
Trump didn’t appear knowledgeable about that bill, which failed in the Senate in 2013 despite widespread public support and has been debated regularly ever since.
He asked Toomey, who introduced the bill with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), if the bill had bipartisan support and suggested it “didn’t have a lot of presidential backing.” He also argued Obama “was not proactive” in trying to pass a bill to strengthen background checks, despite Obama’s push for gun control reform after the Sandy Hook massacre in 2013.
Hayley Miller contributed to this report.
This story has been updated.