Trump Says 'We'll Be Talking About Gun Laws as Time Goes By' -- How His Gun Control Views Have Shifted over the Years
A look back at Donald Trump's shifting views on gun control
In the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history that killed 59 people and injured 527 in Las Vegas, President Donald Trump said Tuesday that the U.S. will “be talking about gun laws as time goes by.”
Also asked about a pending, controversial gun bill that would loosen restrictions on purchasing gun silencers, the president repeated, “We’ll talk about that later.”
This came as Trump praised Las Vegas police officers for their quick response to the mass shooting that occurred late Sunday, and branding the shooter as “demented.”
His comments come after White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders dismissed questions about gun control during Monday’s press briefing, saying now is not the time to “discuss policy.”
Trump has already talked a lot about his opinions on guns over the years. Here’s how his views have evolved.
In his 2000 book, The America We Deserve, Trump criticized Republicans who “walk the NRA line” and “refuse even limited restrictions” on firearms laws.
“It’s often argued that the American murder rate is high because guns are more available here than in other countries. After a tragedy like the massacre at Columbine High School, anyone could feel that it is too easy for Americans to get their hands on weapons. But nobody has a good solution,” he wrote.
“This is another issue where you see the extremes of the two existing major parties,” continued Trump, who, at the time of his book’s publication, was considering running for president but hadn’t declared his bid. “Democrats want to confiscate all guns, which is a dumb idea because only the law-abiding citizens would turn in their guns and the bad guys would be the only ones left armed. The Republicans walk the NRA line and refuse even limited restrictions.”
Trump added that he supported the 1994 federal assault weapons ban, which later expired in 2004 and was not renewed by Congress.
“I generally oppose gun control, but I support the ban on assault weapons and I also support a slightly longer waiting period to purchase a gun. With today’s Internet technology we should be able to tell within 72 hours if a potential gun owner has a record,” Trump wrote.
Trump supported then-President Barack Obama’s call for stronger gun control after the shooting at a Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school that left 26 people dead, including 20 children.
“President Obama spoke for me and every American in his remarks in #Newtown Connecticut,” tweeted Trump, who at the time had only flirted with the possibility of running for office.
Two months before he announced his 2016 bid for president, Trump spoke at the National Rifle Association’s annual convention, where he proclaimed, “I love the NRA. I love the Second Amendment.”
“I promise you one thing, if I run for president and if I win, the Second Amendment will be totally protected, that I can tell you,” he said at the event.
A day after two journalists were killed on live TV in Virginia, then-Republican hopeful Trump said he was opposed to strengthening firearm laws.
“This isn’t a gun problem, this is a mental problem,” Trump told CNN’s Chris Cuomo at the time. “It’s not a question of the laws, it’s really the people.”
Instead of tightening gun laws, Trump suggested more resources should be dedicated to addressing mental health.
In a policy paper released a little more than three months into his campaign, Trump called gun and magazine bans “a total failure.”
“That’s been proven every time it’s been tried. Opponents of gun rights try to come up with scary sounding phrases like ‘assault weapons’, ‘military-style weapons’ and ‘high capacity magazines’ to confuse people,” he said. “What they’re really talking about are popular semi-automatic rifles and standard magazines that are owned by tens of millions of Americans.”
After the Paris attacks that killed at least 130 people and wounded hundreds, Trump said the massacre “would’ve been a much different situation” if the city had looser gun laws.
“When you look at Paris, toughest gun laws in the world, nobody had guns but the bad guys,” he said, according to CNN. “Nobody had guns. And they were just shooting them one by one, and then they broke in and had a big shootout and ultimately killed the terrorists. And I will tell you what — you can say what you want, if they had guns, if our people had guns, if they were allowed to carry, it would have been a much, much different situation.”
Trump vowed at a campaign rally that, if elected, he would eliminate gun-free zones in schools and military bases. “I will get rid of gun-free zones on schools — you have to — and on military bases on my first day,” he said, according to The Washington Post. “It gets signed my first day. You know what a gun-free zone is to a sicko? That’s bait.”
After winning the Republican Nevada primary in February 2016, Trump, then the presumptive GOP nominee, told supporters at a victory rally that he was a proud member of the National Rifle Association, adding that his two adult sons, Eric and Donald Jr., were also members who were “serious NRA.”
“We love the Second Amendment, folks. Nobody loves it more than us, so just remember that,” Trump said of his family.
At a Republican debate, Trump said he no longer supported a ban on assault weapons, as he opined in his 2000 book. “I don’t support it anymore. I do not support the ban on assault [weapons],” Trump said, according to Politico.
After the NRA endorsed Trump at its national convention in Louisville, Kentucky, Trump told the crowd there, “The Second Amendment is under threat like never before.”
“Crooked Hillary Clinton is the most anti-gun, anti-Second Amendment candidate ever to run for office,” he said, later adding, “The only way to save our Second Amendment is to vote for a person that you all know named Donald Trump.”
The NRA went on to spend more than $30 million to support Trump’s presidential bid, according to BBC News.
After the Orlando nightclub shooting that killed 49 people and injured 59 more, Trump announced plans to meet with the NRA to discuss barring people on the terror watch list and “no fly” list from buying guns.
“I will be meeting with the NRA, who has endorsed me, about not allowing people on the terrorist watch list, or the no fly list, to buy guns,” he tweeted.
Nothing appeared to come of that meeting, however, and Trump told ABC days later that he “understands exactly” the NRA’s concerns on the matter.
“A lot of people are on the list that really maybe shouldn’t be on the list and their (Second Amendment) rights are being taken away,” Trump said.
In a presidential debate with Hillary Clinton, Trump said he agreed “quite strongly” with his opponent that people on terror watch lists should potentially be barred from buying guns.
“When a person is on a watch list or a no-fly list — and I have the endorsement of the NRA, which I’m very proud of — but I think we have to look very strongly at no-fly lists and watch lists. And when people are on there, if they shouldn’t be on there, we’ll help them legally, we’ll help them get off. But I tend to agree with that quite strongly.”
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Trump has said in multiple interviews that he owns “a gun” and has a concealed-carry permit in New York.
During a GOP debate in October, Trump said he carried his gun in New York “sometimes a lot.”
“I like to be unpredictable, so people don’t know if I’m carrying,” he added.
As president, Trump quietly signed a bill revoking Obama-era gun checks for people with mental illnesses.
The NRA “applauded” Trump’s action, NBC News reported at the time.