WASHINGTON (KDKA) – Governor Tom Wolf was one of 39 governors who joined President Trump at the White House on Monday.
It was part of a gathering of the National Governors Association.
“This is a time of great opportunity for our country. We’ve created nearly 3 million jobs since the election,” the President told the governors.
While the President began by hailing his own achievements with jobs and tax cuts, he quickly moved to the topic clearly on the minds of many governors.
“Our nation is heart-broken. We continue to mourn the loss of so many precious, young lives,” he said.
The President said it was time for action.
“We have to have action. We don’t have any action. It happens. A week goes by. Let’s keep talking. Another week goes by. Keep talking. Two months go by, and pretty soon everybody is off to the next subject,” he said.
KDKA political editor Jon Delano reached Governor Wolf shortly after the meeting, who said he was feeling optimistic.
“I came away optimistic that there’s a will that might not have been there before,” said Wolf. “The problem remains very difficult. There are clear interests arrayed all around this issue that’s going to make rational debate difficult. But I think right now i have a sense that people have a will to do something.”
Wolf said there was an urgency there that he hasn’t seen before.
One reason for optimism is that the President says he’s prepared to defy the National Rifle Association.
“Half of you are so afraid of the NRA. There’s nothing to be afraid of. And if they’re not with you, you have to fight them every once in a while. That’s OK,” said President Trump.
Delano: “Are you afraid of the NRA?”
Wolf: “No. I mean I think the focus has to be on making sure our children are safe.”
It’s not clear exactly how the President intends to defy the NRA.
Presumably using authority some question he has, the President declared, “Bump stocks. We’re writing that out. I’m writing that out myself. I don’t care if Congress does that, or not. I’m writing that out myself.”
But other measures clearly require legislative action, like the president’s plan to arm some school teachers.
That brought an objection from one governor, Gov. Jay Inslee, a Washington Democrat.
“I just suggest we need a little less tweeting and little more listening. And let’s just take that off the table and move forward,” Inslee told the President.
“I think Governor Inslee is right. Teachers should not be seen as the frontline of defense. We pay them to teach our children,” added Wolf.
Wolf says it’s really up to Congress and the feds — not the states — on most gun safety issues.
“Clearly universal background checks. That can only be done at the federal level because a state can do anything you want there and the neighboring state doesn’t have background checks and you can bring a gun across a state border, voila, you’ve completely undone any background check,” Wolf said.
And Wolf says that also applies to raising the age from 18 to 21 to purchase an AR-15.
“I just don’t understand how a state on its own can do these things. I think these are really federal issues,” he said.