President Trump Defends the NRA As He Breaks With NRA: 'Great American Patriots'

By Susan Jones | February 22, 2018 | 8:53am EST
President Trump listens to people affected by various school shootings at the White House. (Photo: Screen grab/C-SPAN)

( - President Trump reached out to the National Rifle Association on Thursday, amid the unrelenting demonization of the organization in America's latest gun control debate.

"What many people don’t understand, or don’t want to understand, is that Wayne, Chris and the folks who work so hard at the @NRA are Great People and Great American Patriots. They love our Country and will do the right thing. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!" he tweeted.

But earlier, Trump said he supports raising the legal age to purchase a gun to 21, something the NRA does not support.

The president also tweeted that he will be meeting with lawmakers today to "discuss school safety" and next week with the nation's governors. "It has been many years of all talk, no action," he said. "We'll get it done."

In five earlier tweets Thursday morning, President Trump said he's ready for changes that he believes will curb school shootings.

"I will be strongly pushing Comprehensive Background Checks with an emphasis on Mental Health. Raise age to 21 and end sale of Bump Stocks! Congress is in a mood to finally do something on this issue - I hope!," the president wrote. (The NRA is ok with background check improvements.)

Trump began the morning defending his call, made Wednesday, that teachers should be trained to carry concealed weapons:

"I never said 'give teachers guns' like was stated on Fake News @CNN & @NBC. What I said was to look at the possibility of giving 'concealed guns to gun adept teachers with military or special training experience - only the best. 20% of teachers, a lot, would now be able to immediately fire back if a savage sicko came to a school with bad intentions. Highly trained teachers would also serve as a deterrent to the cowards that do this. Far more assets at much less cost than guards. A 'gun free' school is a magnet for bad people. ATTACKS WOULD END!"

(CNN later changed its headline to reflect that Trump did not say 'give teachers guns.')

Trump, apparently responding to things he watched on morning television, also tweeted: "History shows that a school shooting lasts, on average, 3 minutes. It takes police & first responders approximately 5 to 8 minutes to get to site of crime. Highly trained, gun adept, teachers/coaches would solve the problem instantly, before police arrive. GREAT DETERRENT!

And: "If a potential 'sicko shooter' knows that a school has a large number of very weapons talented teachers (and others) who will be instantly shooting, the sicko will NEVER attack that school. Cowards won’t go there...problem solved. Must be offensive, defense alone won’t work!"

Last night, Trump tweeted about the town hall he hosted at the White House in search of solutions:

"I will always remember the time I spent today with courageous students, teachers and families. So much love in the midst of so much pain. We must not let them down. We must keep our children safe!!"

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