The US National Rifle Association’s chief lobbyist has claimed Donald Trump has reversed his position on gun control, just a day after the US president held a televised meeting with lawmakers in which he said he supported increased background checks for gun buyers.
Chris Cox tweeted late on Thursday night that he had met Trump and the vice-president, Mike Pence, and they “don’t want gun control”. They also “support strong due process”, he added.
Trump later tweeted a confirmation of an Oval Office meeting with the NRA, saying it was “great”, but not elaborating on whether he had changed position.
The president’s remarks on Wednesday, warning lawmakers not to be afraid of the NRA and speaking in favor of a law expanding background checks for gun sales, as well as other gun-control measures, had shocked his allies and opponents alike.
“Some of you people are petrified of the NRA. You can’t be petrified,” Trump had said. His comments suggested that, after a school shooting in Parkland, Florida, left 17 people dead and sparked a youth movement for gun control, he was interested in breaking with the gun-rights group on key issues. Trump and the NRA had already expressed conflicting public views on whether to raise the legal age to purchase certain weapons.
The NRA, which endorsed Trump early and gave more than $30m to back his bid for the White House, has been one of the his staunchest supporters. Trump’s public remarks infuriated some NRA members. They appeared to suggest he was open to gun control policies that the group had long opposed. “Every word of it was a betrayal,” said one NRA member.
Trump had also on Wednesday appeared to endorse aggressive measures to confiscate guns from dangerous people. Conservatives, including Pence, had suggested that it might be possible to petition a court to temporarily remove an unstable person’s firearms.
“Take the guns first, go through due process second,” Trump said.
Gun violence groups had hailed Trump’s comments, with Everytown for Gun Safety releasing a statement saying that “the president today called for sweeping gun violence reform that would meet the moment of public sentiment after the tragedy in Parkland”.