PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — As students returned to the classroom in Parkland, Florida, on Wednesday, members of Congress met with the president on gun laws.
Two local senators were among the bipartisan group, and their exchange with President Donald Trump became heated at times.
After Wednesday’s bipartisan meeting, Senators Pat Toomey and Joe Manchin spoke outside the White House. They were asked about raising the age to buy guns.
Democrat Senator Joe Manchin, of West Virginia, said. “To me, that’s a no brainer. If it’s 21 for a handgun, I think the president was rationalizing. If it’s 21 for a handgun, it should be 21 for an AR-15.”
Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, of Pennsylvania, said, “So, I disagree that it’s a no-brainer. I think reasonable people can disagree about what the age is and the vast majority of 18-, 19-, 20-year-olds in Pennsylvania that would like to have a rifle or shotgun are not a threat to anyone. They’re law-abiding citizens.”
During Wednesday’s meeting, President Trump was very explicit about what he wanted.
President Trump: “It doesn’t make sense that I have to wait until I’m 21 to have a handgun, but I can get this weapon at 18. I don’t know. So I’m just curious as to what you did in your bill?”
Sen. Toomey: “We didn’t address it Mr. President.”
President Trump: “You know why? Because you’re afraid of the NRA.”
The bill President Trump is referring to involves the expansion of background checks.
Sen. Manchin: “Pat and I were talking. There might be people coming to the table saying what if they pass certain kinds of competency tests. Things of this sort, showing they are able to handle properly. This will all be considered. That’s the art of compromise.
Sen. Toomey: “The essential thing to focus on here is where is the opportunity for a consensus, and I think that’s on a stronger background check piece of legislation.”
President Trump has indicated a willingness to push back on the NRA if they don’t agree with at least basic reforms.