Return to Transcripts main page
HALA GORANI TONIGHT
Trump, Lawmakers Meet To Discuss School Safety. Aired 3-3:30p ET
Aired February 28, 2018 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello and welcome. We are coming to you live from London. I'm Hala Gorani.
Tonight, we are expecting the American president, Donald Trump, to meet elected officials on school safety. It's an event at the White House. Of
course, this all comes in the wake of the Florida high school massacre and the big question is, will all this talk be translated into action on guns?
Some people are skeptical. We'll bring you that event live.
As more developments swirl in the Russia investigation and the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner's security clearance is downgraded, and there are
reports that he may have met with foreign entities without necessarily reporting that to the National Security Council in Washington and so many
questions there surrounding that development as well.
Let us start with guns in America, more specifically, the politics of guns in America. The students who survived that horrific mass shooting have been
demanding sweeping reforms and as I mentioned, we are about to hear what some of the most powerful people in Washington plan to do to keep schools
Donald Trump is gathering a bipartisan group of lawmakers at the White House. This is a live feed coming to us from Washington. Cameras will be
rolling their meeting gets underway any minute now.
In fact, the press briefing, which usually happens around 2 p.m. Eastern Time has been canceled today and the president wants the press to be
present at this event. Gun control advocates and opponents will be at the table as well.
We are expecting to hear a range of ideas on how to combat gun violence, but again, of course, the big question is, what will be said is what
eventually will be done.
Let's get an update from Washington. We are joined by White House reporter, Stephen Collinson. So, what can be done because Republican
lawmakers and the president himself seemed to be sort of scaling back their -- some of the promises or some of the proposals that they floated just a
few days ago.
STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right, Hala. I think that's one reason why this meeting between the president and the lawmakers
is going to be something that's interesting to watch, but probably won't produce anything major in terms of legislation or new measures.
Just think about this, yesterday, the Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan made it quite clear that he has no interest in taking any significant steps
that would noticeably change gun laws.
Today, we have a senior Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas who came out and said that --
GORANI: All right. Stephen, let's go to the White House, the president is speaking. He is surrounded by lawmakers. Let's listen in.
TRUMP: ... very different period than we've experienced. We have to do something about it. We have to act. We can't wait and play games and
nothing gets done. And I really believe that the people -- this is bipartisan. It's a bipartisan meeting. And we're going to discuss safe
schools, and we can really get there, but we have to do it. We don't want to wait two weeks, three weeks, four weeks and people sort of forget, and
then we go back on, and then we have another problem. We want to stop the problems from having (ph).
So as we continue to mourn the loss of so many precious young lives in Parkland, Florida, we're determined to turn our grief into action. I really
believe that. I think that the people at this table want it. I mean, I see some folks that don't say nice things about me, and that's OK. Because if
you turn that into this energy, I'll love you. I don't care. We're going to be able to do it.
Sadly, these horrible mass shootings are nothing new. I asked for just a list of -- look at Columbine, Colorado; Bill Clinton was president.
Virginia Tech, George Bush. Ft. Hood, Sandy Hook, San Bernardino, Pulse Nightclub, and so many more. It's ridiculous.
So today we're here in a bipartisan fashion to show leadership in an effort to end the senseless violence. And it -- violence -- it can be ended, and
it will be ended.
First we must harden our schools against attack. These include allowing people with a certified training, very talented people, to carry firearms.
Some people are going to disagree with that, and I understand that. I fully understand that. And if you do, I want you to speak up today, and we'll
TRUMP: But 98 percent of all mass shootings in the United States, since 1950, have taken place in gun-free zones, where guns were not inside the
school or, as an example, you take the Pulse Nightclub. If you had one person in that room that could carry a gun and knew how to use it, it
wouldn't have happened, or certainly not to the extent it did, where he was just in there shooting and shooting and shooting, and they were
So just remember that: 98 percent of all mass public shootings in the United States since 1950 have taken place in gun-free zones, which is
terrible. You've got to have defense, too. You can't just be sitting ducks. And that's exactly what we've allowed people in these buildings and schools
Second, we have to confront mental health. There's never been a case that I've ever seen -- I'm sure everybody would feel the same -- where mental
health was so obviously -- 39 different red flags. I mean, everybody was seeing them -- the local police, the state police, the FBI. Everybody was
seeing that this guy was sick, and nothing happened.
Third, we have to ensure that, when students, educators, family, neighbors -- that, when they warn authorities -- that the authorities act quickly and
decisively, unlike what took police in Florida, which was horrible.
Fourth, we have to pursue common-sense measures that protect the rights of law-abiding Americans while keeping guns and -- we have to keep the guns
out of the hands that pose the threat. And this really includes background checks.
And I know, Senator, that you're working on things. Joe, I know you're working. I mean, I'm looking at a number of the folks around the table.
You're working on different bills. We have to get them -- we have to get them done. We have to get them done. And they have to be strong.
The background checks -- hey, look, I'm the biggest fan of the Second Amendment. Many of you are. I'm a big fan of the NRA. But -- I've met (ph)
-- I had lunch with them, with Wayne and Chris and David, on Sunday, and said, "It's time. I'm going to stop this nonsense. It's time."
So we've made suggestions to many of you, and I think you're going to put a lot of those suggestions in place. You're going to have your own ideas.
Certain ideas sound good, but they're not -- they're not good. You know, you can harden a site to a level that nobody could get in. The problem is,
if the shooter's inside and he gets to -- he gets in the door and closes the door, we can't get people in.
It's going to cost hundred of millions of dollars all over the country, and we'll have nice hard sites. The door closes, and now we can't get in --
have to send a tractor through the walls. So we have to be careful of that.
And we have to create a culture that cherishes life and human dignity. So we're going to all sit around. We're going to come up with some ideas.
Hopefully, we can put those ideas in a very bipartisan bill. It would be so beautiful to have one bill that everybody could support, as opposed to, you
know, 15 bills -- everybody's got their own bill.
But, if we could have one terrific bill that everybody -- started by the people around this table -- special people -- these are the people that
seem to be just most interested, very interested in this problem. And it's a big problem.
So, with that, I think I'd like to start. Maybe I'll ask John. You can start off, and we'll go back and forth. We'll leave the media for a little
while, and they can hear some thought. But it's something that can be done. There's no reason for this.
But, again, I really believe that those people -- it's idealistic. It's wonderful. It's a beautiful thing. But, if you think that somebody is going
to be able to walk into a school, if they feel that they're not going to have bullets coming at them from the other direction, you're never going to
solve the problem.
I feel that. I feel that. But I'm certainly open to suggestions. So, John, why don't you start? You've put in your Fix NICS. And let's see how it is.
And go ahead.
RUTHERFORD: Well, thank you, Mr. President...
TRUMP: Thank you.
RUTHERFORD: ... for getting us together and for expressing your sincere concern about this and trying to get us to a solution. I agree with you
that leaving this town and going home empty-handed is not acceptable. The public demands that we act.
We know how hard it is to get people together on a bipartisan basis. But, believe it or not, at least in one case, Congress -- Senator Murphy and I -
- we have 46 co-sponsors to the Fix NICS bill in the Senate. The House has passed its version of it. And I believe it's a good place for us to start.
As you know, Sutherland Springs -- we lost 26 people when a guy who fought (ph) in the Air Force -- a convicted felon -- he was convicted of domestic
violence and he was less-than-honorably discharged from the military, none of which was uploaded into the background check system maintained by the
FBI. I mean, that's only as good as the data put into it.
So Senator Murphy and I and 46 Senate colleagues, on a bipartisan basis, have what we think is a start. It's not the end-all, be-all. There's other
things that people want to add to it. We talked about the bump stock issue that Senator Feinstein, I know, cares passionately about.
TRUMP: And I'm going to write that out. Because we can do that with an executive order. I'm going to write the bump stock -- essentially, write it
out. So you won't have to worry about bump stock. Shortly, that'll be gone. We can focus on other things. Frankly, I don't even know if it would be
good in this bill. It's nicer to have a separate piece of paper where it's gone, and we'll have that done pretty quickly. They're working on it right
now, the lawyers. Go ahead.
CORNYN: But we need to get started on things that only we can do, which would be this background check system. People have other ideas. They ought
to offer those ideas. I'm not sure all of them will pass, but in the past, we've -- we've -- we've acquiesced to failure, and have not done things
that we know were within our power to accomplish, like the Fix NICS bill. So I would just like to recommend to you, and to colleagues here that we
get that done, and we build on it. We don't stop there. We build on it, and -- Because none of us want to look these families in the face in the wake
of another mass shooting and say, "We failed to do everything within our power to stop it."
TRUMP: And, John, Fix NICS has some really good things in it. But it would be nice if we could add everything on to it. And maybe you change the
title, all right? The U.S. Background Check Bill, or whatever. But your bill is really good, and really important, having to do with a certain
aspect. But maybe we could make it much more comprehensive, and have one bill, instead of 15 different bills that nobody knows what's happening.
CORNYN: If we can get 60 votes for it, Mr. President, I'm all for it.
TRUMP: I think you can. Honestly, I think -- Look, I really believe this is one of the things where you can actually get the 60 votes, and maybe
easily. Dianne, do you have something?
FEINSTEIN: Well, I do, Mr. President. You probably know this, but I became mayor of San Francisco as a product of assassination. I've been the victim
of terrorist groups. The department gave me a weapon. They taught me how to shoot it, and we proceeded through the 1970s that way.
What I've watched and seen is the development of weapons that I never thought would leave the battlefield, that are out on our streets. And the
latest and newest, Mr. Chairman, is the AR-15. It's got a lot of assets to it, and it's -- it's misused. And it tears apart a human body with the
And I've watched the school shootings, in particular, which you pointed out. And I thought Sandy Hook -- and I'm delighted that Senator Murphy is
here today. We thought Sandy Hook would be the end, and he and I introduced another assault weapons bill after the first one. We didn't succeed with
it, but the killings have gone on. The number of incidents have gone up, and I put my case in writing, which I will give you, if I may, in letter
TRUMP: Good, good. Good. Thank you.
FEINSTEIN: And secondly, the assault weapons legislation, this is the number of incidents before, and -- of -- of -- of incidents, and of deaths.
FEINSTEIN: This is when the ten-year assault weapon ban was in -- how incidents and deaths dropped. When it ended, you see it going up.
FEINSTEIN: So, Senator Murphy...
TRUMP: I'll take a look at it.
FEINSTEIN: ... and 26 of us have co-sponsored a new bill. I would be most honored if you would take a look at it.
TRUMP: I will. I will.
FEINSTEIN: And we will get it to you, and let us know what you -- what you think of it.
TRUMP: I will.
FEINSTEIN: Thank you.
TRUMP: Thank you very much.
Chris? Go ahead.
C. MURPHY: Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, thank you very much. Thank you for taking this seriously. Our hearts go out to Parkland. We know,
having gone through this in Sandy Hook, that that community will never, ever be the same.
And I want to bring us back to this issue of background checks, if I could, becauase I think there's real opportunity.
TRUMP: I agree.
C. MURPHY: There is no other issue out there in the American public today like background checks. Ninety-seven percent of Americans want universal
background checks. In states that have universal background checks, there are 35 percent less gun murders than in states that don't have them. And
yet we can't get it done. There's nothing else like that, where it works, people want it, and we can't do it.
TRUMP: But you have a different president now.
C. MURPHY: Well, listen, I...
TRUMP: I mean, you went through a lot of presidents, and you didn't get it done. But you have a different president, and I think, maybe, you have a
different attitude, too. I think people want to get it done.
C. MURPHY: Well, listen...
TRUMP: Go ahead.
C. MURPHY: In -- in the end, Mr. President, the reason that nothing has gotten done here is because the gun lobby has had a veto power over any
legislation that comes before Congress. I wish that wasn't the case, but that is. And if all we end up doing is the stuff that the gun industry
supports, then this just isn't worth it. We are not going to make a difference.
And so I'm glad that you sat down with the NRA, but we will get 60 votes on a bill that looks like the Manchin-Toomey compromise on background checks,
Mr. President, if you support it. If you come to Congress, if you come to Republicans and say, "We are going to do a Manchin-Toomey-like bill to get
comprehensive background checks, it will pass. But if this meeting ends up with just sort of vague notions of future compromise, then nothing will
TRUMP: I agree. We don't want that.
C. MURPHY: And so -- so I -- I -- I think we have a unique opportunity to get comprehensive background checks, make sure that nobody buys a gun in
this country that's a criminal, that's seriously mentally ill, that's on the terrorist watch list. But Mr. President, it's going to have to be you
that brings the Republicans to the table on this...
C. MURPHY: ...Because right now, the gun lobby would stop it in its tracks.
TRUMP: I like that responsibility, Chris. I really do. I think it's time. It's time that a president stepped up, and we haven't had them -- and I'm
talking Democrat and Republican presidents. They have not stepped up.
And maybe before I call on Marco, I'd like to have Pat Toomey and Joe Manchin, could you just sort of detail your bill? Because I haven't heard a
lot about it, actually.
TOOMEY: Thank you very much. Absolutely, Mr. President. And I do think our bill is the best chance of moving forward. We got 54 votes in 2013, the
most that any bill in this space got. It has several components. The first, title, is a title that is very similar to what John Cornyn and Chris
Murphy's bill does. It strengthens the reporting of information into the background check system.
TRUMP: It'll be merging it?
TOOMEY: Absolutely. Easily.
TRUMP: It's better to have one bill. It's nicer than having seven bills, and...
TOOMEY: Right. The second part has a provision that would require background checks on all commercial sales. See, one of the big gaps in our
background check system today is sales at gun shows, and sales over the Internet are not necessarily subject to a background check, and we think
they should be. These are essentially commercial in nature, and they're on a scale that really matters. So our bill would require those background
We also have a number of provisions which we'll -- we'll...
TRUMP: Do you have support for that?
TRUMP: Do you have bipartisan support for what you're saying?
TOOMEY: We had 54 votes in 2013, and most of those 54 voters are still in the Senate.
TRUMP: And you didn't have a lot of presidential backup?
MANCHIN: That was our problem.
TOOMEY: President Obama did support it, but...
TRUMP: But that was your problem.
TOOMEY: But there was a worry that he wanted to go further, frankly, and -- and that was a concern for some of our guys.
So I'll just say, there's two other items. One is a list of ways in which a law-abiding citizen could have greater freedom to exercise the Second
Amendment; for instance, allowing an active duty military person to be able to buy a firearm in his home state. Today, that's against the law. It
shouldn't be. Our bill would correct that. A number of other small things.
TOOMEY: And then finally, we'd create a commission to look at the sources and causes of these terrible mass killings.
TRUMP: What are you doing in the schools?
MANCHIN: (inaudible). We have the school safety program in this bill, also. When I was governor, we fixed a lot of schools. WE remodeled a lot of
schools, and built a lot of schools, and not one architect ever told us, say, "Governor Manchin, you've got to make sure you have the first -- first
floor windows all bulletproof." We never knew that. No one ever came to me with that concern.
MANCHIN: And that's how the boy at Sandy Hook shot his way in. So we made sure that we addressed all that.
Mr. President, the difference is this: There's not a person in West Virginia that believes that you're not going to defend their Second
Amendment rights -- not a person. With you taking a lead on something like this, it gives them the comfort that something reasonable -- and this
bill's been vetted for over five years, and over 70, 80 percent, even, of gun owners say, "We like your bill, Pat and Joe. We're just afraid that
President Obama would take it further, and take more rights away." That's what I was running into in West Virginia.
TRUMP: Or use that as an excuse not to sign it.
MANCHIN: Well, this is not...
TRUMP: Because he was not proactive in getting a bill signed, in all fairness.
MANCHIN: Well, and in all fairness, this is a bill that basically, with your support, it would pass. It would pass. And we think it -- basically,
it takes commercial sales, any commercial transfer...
TRUMP: And maybe, too, that bill, if we use that as a base, you could add some of the things that are going to be said in the room, or you may not
want to. But there are going to be things that are going to be said today that I think will be, you know, in addition to yours, Joe, which, you can
add almost everything, because you know what that involves.
TRUMP: I think it would be a very positive thing, in terms of background checks.
MANCHIN: Well, I would just say this, Mr. President.
TRUMP: Go ahead.
MANCHIN: This -- On this piece of legislation here, with -- without background checks on commercial transactions -- So if a person basically --
when the -- when the terrorists basically say, "Hey, go down to the local gun show and get whatever you want." Because you can be in a gun show. Two-
thirds of the gun show could have licensed dealers, federal licensed dealers that have to have background checks if you buy it from them. Go to
the next table over, there was not one. That's a loophole.
Interstate / intrastate -- If you're selling outside the state on the Internet, you have to have a background check.
MANCHIN: If you sell in state, one part of New York versus the other, doesn't have to. This closes all those loop holes.
MANCHIN: This is a piece of legislation...
TRUMP: Well, we have to do something about the mentally ill not being able to buy a gun. I mean, they have so many checks and balances that you can be
mentally ill and it takes you six months before you can prohibit it. So, we have to do something very decisive.
Number one, you can take the guns away immediately from people that you can adjudge easily are mentally ill, like this guy. The police saw that he was
problem, they didn't take any guns away. Now that could have been policing. I think they should have taken them away anyway, whether they had the right
But, I'll tell you this, you have to have very strong provisions for the mentally ill. Now a lot of people are saying, oh I shouldn't be saying
that. I tell you what, I don't want mentally ill people to be having guns. Marco?
RUBIO: Mr. President, thanks for bringing us here because I think we all agree -- we all know what the issues are that are fought over on this
issue, but I think what everyone agrees on is we never want to see this happen again anywhere in America.
And you mentioned something about the shooting that I think is critical, this was a multi-systemic failure. And without pointing fingers or laying
blame on anyone in particular that may or may be here to defend themselves, the sheriff's office knew this was a problem, the school districts knew
this was a problem, the FBI had been alerted to a problem, the Department of Children and Families in Florida knew that this was problem, but the big
problem is none of them talked to each other.
Nobody told the others what they knew and there is a bill out there that Senator Hatch is going to file very soon and Congressman Rutherford and
others here have already filed and it's call the Stop School Violence Act and I'll let them describe it more in detail. But, one of the things that
it does, is it incentivizes the creation of this sort of synergy where all these people are talking to each other so they can compare notes and get
ahead of this.
The best way to prevent these is to stop it before it even starts. That doesn't mean we shouldn't harden schools, that doesn't mean we shouldn't
have a debate on some other issues, but the best thing that could happen is know who these people are and get on them and get them the services they
need and deny them the right to buy any gun.
And I think that is something that holds tremendous bipartisan promise if we can come together on the things agree on and I would say one last point,
in the state of Florida they have a very different process than we do, but they are already moving on legislation, the Governor and the Legislature.
They're going to pass something, perhaps by the end of this week, on a series of things. Now, we move a lot slower over here, but nonetheless, I
think that's an example to us of what I hope we can do in Washington, get done what we can agree on and we can still debate and try to act on some of
the other things, but there are things we agree on, we owe it to these families to do those things.
TRUMP: I agree Marc. Chuck, we have anything?
GRASSLEY: I would like to comment from this standpoint, first of all, I caution on mental health, because there's a lot of people that have mental
health issues that are not dangerous to themselves or to others. So, I think we've got to concentrate on those, not just that have mental health
issues, but the ones that show danger to themselves or others, because otherwise it's not fair to other people that have mental illness that
I'll comment on the culture within the schools, but I can't say anything better than Senator Rubio would say it or Senator Hatch would say it, but
it seems to me we have to have a culture in our schools where our people are attuned to people that have problems that could create this massacre
sort of things or anything else that is even connected with bullying, as just one example.
We have to do things at the federal level that will guild schools or resources to do that. So, that kind of fits in with what Senator Hatch is
Then I'll end with more of a process, as Chairman of the Committee that will deal with a lot of this legislation, we've got to do something, I want
to help facilitate those things and move them along and see what we can do...
TRUMP: You'll be great, I have no doubt about it.
GRASSLEY: ...to get a consensus.
TRUMP: You're going to be a great help. Thanks Chuck. I'd just like to ask Gerald and Pat, in your bill what are you doing about the 18 to 21?
TOOMEY: We need to change that.
TRUMP: Okay, are you going to leave that?
TOOMEY: That's -- whatever you want.
TRUMP: So, you have a case right now were somebody can buy a handgun at 21 -- now this is not a popular thing to say in terms of the NRA, but I'm
saying anyway, I'm going to just have to say it, but you can't buy -- I mean think of it, you can buy a handgun, you can't buy one, you have to
wait till your 21, but you can buy the kind of weapon used in the school shooting at 18.
I think it's something you have to think about.
So, I'll tell you what, I'm going to give it a lot of consideration and I'm the one bringing it up, but a lot of people don't even want to bring it up
because they're afraid to bring it up, but you can't buy a handgun at 18, 19 or 20. You have to wait till your 21, but you can buy the gun, the
weapon used in this horrible shooting at 18.
TRUMP: You are going to decide, the people in this room pretty much, you're going to decide. But, I would give very serious thought to it. I can say
that the NRA is opposed to it and I'm a fan of the NRA. I mean, there's no bigger fan. I'm a big fan of the NRA. They wanted to (ph) -- these are
great people. These are great patriots. They love our country. But that doesn't mean we have to agree on everything. It doesn't make sense that I
have to wait until I'm 21 to get a handgun but I can get this weapon at 18. I don't know.
So I was just curious as to what you did in your film.
TOOMEY: We didn't -- we didn't address, it, Mr. President. But I think we...
TRUMP: You know why? Because you're afraid of the NRA, right?
It's a big issue right now, and a lot of people are talking about it. But a lot of people -- a lot of people are afraid of that issue. Raising the age
for that weapon to 21.
TOOMEY: Yes, I have a suggestion, because (ph) my reservation about it, frankly, is that the vast majority of 18, 19, and 20-year olds in
Pennsylvania who have a rifle or a shotgun, they're not a threat to anyone. They're law-abiding citizens. They have that because they want to use it
for hunting or target shooting, and to deny them their 2nd Amendment right is not going to make anyone safer. So that's my reservation about changing
TRUMP: I know where you're coming from, and I understand that. I mean, no, I understand that. I think it's -- I think it's a position. It's a
position. But I think if we're going to use you as a base, the two of you, I think you're going to have to iron out that problem.
Because I'm asked that question more than almost any other question. "Are you -- are you going to 21 or not?" OK? Anybody, yes? Steve?
DAINES: Mr. President, I sit around this table, like many, is a father of four, as an uncle. I was with the Councilwoman Estee Williams (ph), and she
won her election -- we were campaigning at the same time when Newtown happened, while she was campaigning.
The first four words she said to me, Mr. President, struck with me, says, "We need to act." But the only worse thing than doing nothing is doing
something that doesn't achieve the intended results. You were in business your entire life, I was in business for 28 years; business is not about
activities and doing things, it's about our results.
The act of shooting kids is cowardly. Moms and dads want to know that when they drop off their kids, they are safe.
This morning I came in early, I bypassed the gym -- get an excuse, perhaps, to bypass the gym, and go in to spend some time thinking when nobody else
is in the office, it's 7:00 am, and I just put together a sheet of the 14 mass killings -- and Congress defined mass killings following the Newtown
incident, that means if there are three or more people lost their lives, and it's considered a mass killing.
Since Columbine, we've had 14 of these in our country. And my staff put together a nice spreadsheet, but I was handwriting this this morning.
Looking up where did it happen? What year? How many died? What was the age of the shooter; if under 21, how was the firearm obtained? What was the
weapon used? And what was the status of the shooter? Most of these, by the way, are suicides.
TRUMP: And was there offensive firepower on the inside of those facilities so that, when the gunman comes in, we have defensive capability? And one
other thing. If he knew there was offensive power inside of the 14 events, probably none of them would have happened.
DAINES: So, a message of deterrent...
TRUMP: It's very important for people to understand.
DAINES: Mr. President, a message of deterrence I think is very important as we think about stopping these homicidal, suicidal killers.
There were meetings in here right after 9/11, after that horrible event occurred. There were meetings over in the situation room right after it
occurred. And we made the decision as a nation, we're going to secure our skies. We can never let that happen again. We had to restore the trust of
the public to get back on airplanes.
Mr. President, we need to secure our schools because parents want action now. We have some huge society issues, demographically, these shooters
typically are males, they're white, and they're suicidal.
TRUMP: And they're cowards.
DAINES: And they're cowards. And cowards -- cowards -- can be stopped with deadly force. And that's why I agree with you, that we need to secure our
schools, and allow the states and the school boards to figure that out. I think there's a role in the federal government, but I agree with that.
And, second, Marco talked about what happened in Florida. Last week in Montana, I was just north of a school the day after they stopped and
arrested an 18-year old in Darby, Montana, because he put on Snapchat he was going to shoot up the school. The Sheriff Steve Holton of Ravalli
County arrested that young man, and most likely prevented another mass shooting. That's what we need.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Good. Thank you, Steve. Please.
REP. TED DEUTCH (D), FLORIDA: Mr. President, I've spent a lot of time since the shooting in Marjory Stoneman Douglas with the students who
survived. And they've been very clear that what they want is action. And I am heartened by what you say about the need for preinstall leadership.
You can do this. I understand, Mr. President, that you met with the NRA. What matters here is preventing another one of these mass shootings. And
so, I'm so grateful to hear that Senator Toomey and Senator Manchin's built. Not might be -- I was just must be a part of this pre-universal
There are so many things that we can do right now. The only thing I would add, you started, Mr. President, by pointing out that there will be
differences of opinion. Please know that there are differences great different of opinion on the question of whether having teachers armed with
guns firing back at a potential mass shooter is the answer, I don't think it is. Many others don't. Keith also know that there are -- the majority
of people in this country now understand that there are limitations on the second amendment. You cannot own an automatic weapon. You cannot own a
bazooka. And so there is now reason to continue to sell to people a weapon of war like this. I know there are differences of opinion. I just hope
that we can act, that we can show the American people and the kids and their grieving families in my district that with presidential leadership,
it doesn't matter what the Congress says that you could help push this forward and that we will consider everything including this one.
TRUMP: Good. I like that. And I appreciate that. The fact is a lot is up to the states. And that's good. And the states feel differently.
Texas has an example. As very much as to what I'm saying and that you've done very well. You haven't had these problems.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Six more considerations.
TRUMP: So we have eight states and we have another six or seven or eight considering. And that's okay. And you may be different and you may have a
very (INAUDIBLE) so I don't think the states have to be -- to say, what this have to be the same on the background checks and all of the data,
whether it's Fix NICS or all of the things that we're going to be heading, that has to be very much the same. You have to be able to share with
states and share with localities and all of that. But I really do. I do think this. I think that some states are different. Some states are going
to do what Texas does. And some state don't want that program. I think it's a good program. But some states don't want that program.
The reason I like it is that I really believe it's going to prevent it from ever happening, because they are cowards. And then not going in when they
know they're going to come out dead. They're not going into a school when they know they're going to come out dead. When you look at this guy in
Florida, he walked out with everybody like it was a fire drill. He walked out and he got away. And the police did a fantastic job two towns away.
That policeman wasn't given much credit, but he found him, he saw him and he looked like the description as he got him. Those are great job. So we
have to give them some credit, because this was not the finest day this man and probably two or three others were not exactly very good. They didn't
do their job very well. But I do agree with what you say. Amy, please.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), MINNESOTA: Thank you, Mr. President, for calling us together today. And I've come from a proud hunting state. You know
that. So I have that hat, but then I also have law enforcement. I was a prosecutor for eight years and I got involved in this issue from police
coming to me. And one of the issues they raised, for years, was the fact that there was this gun show loophole and there were issues with commercial
purchase that didn't allow them to get the information they need to make sure that the people were safe. And that's why I've been such a strong
supporter of the Manchin/Toomey bill. It's not going to fix everything but it is a good base to start with. I want to just make one more case --
TRUMP: It is the best we've ever done too.
KLOBUCHAR: And I want to make one more case and we appreciate your support for that bill, from a different perspective. And of course, I support
Dianne's bill and other things. But the states have had these background checks. They have a 38 percent lower domestic homicide rate. This is
domestic violence. And for those cases, especially, it makes a major difference. And this number, for you to keep with you, 6,000 women in 10
years were killed by a partner, whether it was a spouse, a boyfriend, 6,000. That is more than we lost for brave troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
TRUMP: Big deal.
[15:35:00] KLOBUCHAR: And so just doing something on this background check issue and using that as a base and then I would like to add some of these
other things we've talked about. I think it would make a major difference.
TRUMP: So if you can add that to this bill that would be great, Dianne. If you could add what you have also and I think you can into the bill --
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (R), CALIFORNIA: Joe, are you ready?
TRUMP: Can you do that? Joe, can you do that back? Can you add -- some of them --
FEINSTEIN: If you help.
TRUMP: No, I'll help, but can you add what Amy and what Dianne have? Can we add them in? And I know you can add what John --
KLOBUCHAR: I have another domestic violence bill that's very narrow and it's about dating partners and a number of states have just enacted it with
TRUMP: We're going to get it passed. We're going to get it passed. If you can add domestic violence paragraphs, pages into this bill, I'm all for
it. I think it's terrific if you can do it. It can be done. That could be done too.
SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R), TEXAS: Mr. President, can I respectfully recommend Steve Scalise to vote count on the House is going to be a key role in all
this. He's had a personal near tragic experience with one of these mass shootings himself.
REP. STEVE SCALISE (R), LOUISIANA: Well, I appreciate, Mr. President, you convening everybody. Thank you, Sen. Cornyn. My whip counterpart. The
House did pass a bill dealing with fixing problems with our background check system. We also combined with it a bill that advanced concealed
carry reciprocity. In other words, people that have concealed carry permits in one state been able to have that same ability in another state
with concealed carry laws that are on the books. And before that's immediately discounted because I know when we passed our bill there was --
number one, I did have to whip that bill. It wasn't a bill that just automatically passed.
There were a lot of our members that said look, we want to close these problems and fix these problems with the background check system and we
came together and actually passed a bill. But we also felt that if you look the concealed carry population, these are people by and large who are
helping us stop crimes. These are people who are well trained, who actually go out there and help prevent crimes. So I'd hope that that's not
immediately dismissed because there is a lot of talk of just putting that on the side.
TRUMP: (INAUDIBLE) I think that maybe that bill will some day pass but it should pass as a separate. If you're going to put concealed carry between
states into this bill, we're talking about a whole new ball game. And, you know, I'm with you but let it be a separate bill. You'll never get this
passed if you add concealed carry to this, you'll never get it passed. I don't think -- I don't think -- again, you'll never get it passed. So we
want to get something done. What's your second point?
SCALISE: Please recognize that -- look at the data. I know a lot of people just want to dismiss concealed carry permits. They do actually
increase safety. So I understand your point. I did appreciate some of the other points you brought up. Look, you talk about mental health problems.
That is at the core of so many of these mass shootings. We Congress came together in a bipartisan way as part of the 21st Century Cures Act, just a
year and a half ago and passed a major overhaul of our mental health system, didn't get much attention because it was very bipartisan.
But that bill -- and you just appointed an assistant secretary to mental health, which is a position created in that law. Let's make sure that the
assistant secretary of mental health has the tools they need. Their task with finding all of these loopholes. How are people slipping through the
cracks? And I'll tell you the thing that makes me the most angry, is that when you see so many governmental institutions, federal and local that
broke down and allowed this kid not only to get a gun but to let him slip through the cracks.
It wasn't just students -- believe me there were students saying we think he's a shooter. He said he was going to be a professional school shooter.
And yet the FBI let him go. You know this. People had protected me and my other colleagues on that field, our law enforcement did their job that day.
I appreciate that you gave them the Medal of Freedom.
TRUMP: If you didn't have those two people, you wouldn't be here and 25 other people wouldn't be here right now.
SCALISE: And so when you see those breakdowns, that is why you see so many millions of Americans that want firearms to defend themselves, not to use
them for mass shooters but actually to defend themselves and their communities and that's obviously one of the balances we have. So the House
did take action. You know, clearly the Senate may have some issues with parts of the bill. But let's not just discard that. Let's at least have a
broader conversation. And we'll continue this.
TRUMP: OK, I think that's fine. Do somebody -- Marsha, yes, go.
REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R), TENNESSEE: Yes. Mr. President, first of all, I want to say thank you for saying let's go to the source of the problem. So
many times we react to symptoms.
[15:40:44] Picking up on what the whip said with the new assistant secretary of mental health, this is somewhere that, yes, indeed, we need to
be looking at the tools that they have and looking at these young adults, individuals who crossed that 18-year-old threshold and who, within their
family or their caregiver has the access to those mental health records and how law enforcement has the ability to get that information from children's
services. So many of these have records through their teenage years that have been on a schedule.
TRUMP: And John is working on that, that's part of what we're doing.
BLACKBURN: And we need to have that visibility. And the House has wanted to fix that NICS system. Another thing that has come up from some of the
moms. I was a room mother when my kids were in school. And now as a grandmother, I'm talking to a lot of young moms. They have said one of the
things we need to do as we review these issues is look at entertainment. And the video games, the rating system, the movies. How things are approved
and what children are being exposed to. And especially children that have some of these mental health issues. And they feel that has a role to play.
Now some of my sheriff's --
TRUMP: I think that's a very important part of it. The video games, the movies, the internet stuff is so violent. It's so incredible. I see it.
I get to see things that you wouldn't be -- you'd be amazed at. I have a very young son who I look at some of the things he's watching and I say,
how is that possible? And this is what kids are watching. And I think you maybe have to take a look at it. You rate movies for different things.
Maybe you have to also rate them for terror, for what they're doing and what they're all about.
It's hard to believe that at least for a percentage -- or maybe it's a small percentage of children and this doesn't have a negative impact on
their thought process. These things are really violent. Please.
BLACKBURN: Some of the young moms have mentioned this that they're very concerned about that exposure and children being desensitized to violence.
So, they would like that. One of my sheriffs, sheriff Eddie Ferris, has a great idea. He's in Putnam County, Tennessee. And he said as we talk
about hardening the schools, we have need to read programs at schools, how about protecting the programs that some of our FOP retirees could take the
lead on and go in as a volunteer, help to protect those while we work through this issue of how your local, state and federal agencies are going
to work together and find solutions for this.
So those are things that my constituents are saying and would like to have raised. They want solutions to them. I appreciate the leadership.
TRUMP: Thank you very much. I appreciate it. Thank you.
REP. BRIAN MAST (R), FLORIDA: Mr. President, you're absolutely right. You can lead on this in a way that nobody else can because for all of those
Americans out there that the Second Amendment is so critically important to them, they believe you, that you're not going to go into their home and
take their firearms. So you have a credibility that nobody else can bring to this. That's why you can lead. Maybe you've heard my call. You act
when you see an opportunity to save life.
TRUMP: Yes, I'm going to lead. But we're all going to lead. We're going to get this done in a bipartisan manner. I'm not even worried about 60
votes. I really believe that 60 votes, 60 percent, meaning, should be so easy. Should be 100 percent. Chris, did you have something?
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D), CONNECTICUT: No. I think you underestimate the power of the gun lobby.
TRUMP: No. I tell you what. The reason I had lunch with the NRA on Sunday -- I called them. I said you got to come over. I said, fellows,
we've got to do something. They do have great power. I agree with that. They have great power over you people. They have less people over me. I
don't need it. What do I need?
But I tell you, they are well meaning. I said to them very nicely. I said, fellows, we've got to do something. We can't keep restricting and we
can't keep -- we have to do what's right. When it comes to mental health and other issues, I said we have to do what's right. I'm telling you, I
think they're there. I think they're there. Some of you people are petrified of the NRA. You can't be petrified. They want to do what's
right. They're going to do what's right. I really believe that. I think it was a very good lunch. Yes, sir?
REP. JOHN RUTHERFORD (R), FLORIDA: I want to give you a perspective from 41 years of law enforcement, 12 as a sheriff, riding the streets of
Jacksonville, Florida. I can tell you one of the things that I learned during that 41 years and a lot in this room can tell you as well, is
security is always a multi-layered approach.
So as we talk about the background checks, who can buy a gun, who cannot, all of those things are important. And all of those are a piece of the --
parts of the security that we can create for our country. But know this. And you said it. All of that can break down and someone go into a gun-free
zone and just kill at will. Defenseless people.
[15:45:14] TRUMP: You're defenseless.
RUTHERFORD: So number one for security from the law enforcement perspective is you have to have -- the only thing -- and it sounds cliche
but it's cliche because it's true. The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. And so you have to have those
officers or some armed security at our schools.
Now, the issue is, and we talk about those are areas where there are no guns. The reason I carry a concealed firearm everywhere I go is because I
don't know where those gun-free zones are that I may be walking through at the mall or the donut shop or wherever I might be. So that's why I carry
concealed so that I can protect myself, I can protect my family who might be with me and I can protect all of those around me who choose not to carry
TRUMP: You're not allowed concealed in a gun-free zone.
RUTHERFORD: Well --
TRUMP: So, what do you do?
RUTHERFORD: You can't carry in those areas. And so you're -- well, like everybody else. So that's why --
TRUMP: They are the most dangerous places, gun-free zones. It's true.
RUTHERFORD: That's why we need to look at, I think, going back to the concealed carry issue of national reciprocity.
TRUMP: I just don't think you're not going to get approved. You're not going to get concealed carry approved. Amy and Dianne and a lot of other
people -- they're never going to consider it. But people may consider it, but they're not going to consider it in this bill. All it's going to mean
if you --
RUTHERFORD: We all want to know where the gun-free zones.
TRUMP: As far as I'm concerned, I would, and I would do it with the military. In fact, I'm looking to get rid of gun-free zones in the
military. We have military bases with gun-free zones and had five incredible soldiers, three of whom were championship shooters that were
nowhere near their gun and this whack job walked in and killed all of them. They were defenseless. And if they had their guns he would have been gone
in a second.
RUTHERFORD: Every time I walk in to some place carry and concealed, I'm in a gun-free zone. Whether it's a restaurant, whether it's a grocery store -
TRUMP: I want to get rid of them on military bases to start. Because you know what's happened there.
RUTHERFORD: Let me put it this way. I will say it's critical for law enforcement. We actually take folks who are a danger to themselves or
others, we Baker Act them. In Florida, it's called Baker Act. It's a crisis stabilization process. They're there for three days, 72 hours. They
get stabilized and get out. We have to give them their guns back. I tried not to do that one time and actually got sued and lost the case. I had to
give the guns back. And we got fined.
So, the state of Florida has this bill that was mentioned earlier that the Senate just passed. It has these risk protection orders built in.
TRUMP: That's right.
RUTHERFORD: And those -- there are some states that already have that, I believe. And I think those are going to be critical for law enforcement to
help take the guns out of the hands of these individuals.
TRUMP: Risk protection.
RUTHERFORD: Who we know should not be carrying and then we need to make sure that those individuals get placed into the national background check
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, the Vice President's state of Indiana has done a good job.
TRUMP: Yes. Go ahead, Mike.
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, the category that you spoke about, Mr. President, gun violence, restraining orders.
California actually has a version of this. And I think in your meeting with governors earlier this week, individually, and as a group, we spoke
about the states taking steps. But the focus is to literally give families and give local law enforcement additional tools if an individual is
reported to be a potential danger to themselves or others. Allow due process, so no one's rights are trampled but the ability to go to court,
obtain an order and then collect not only the firearms but any weapons in the possession.
TRUMP: Or, Mike, take the firearms first and then go to court. Because that's another system. Because a lot of times by the time you go to court,
it takes so long to go to court, to get the due process procedures. I like taking the guns early. Like in this crazy man's case that just took place
in Florida. He had a lot of firearms. They saw everything. To go to court would have taken a long time. You could do exactly what you're
saying but take the guns first, go through due process second.
PENCE: We just think about -- we think about the tragedy in Sandy Hook.
TRUMP: That's right.
PENCE: And Adam Lanza's mother, who spoke to law enforcement, spoke to local officials. She was concerned over and over again. I know our
colleague from Connecticut lived this and saw it. But to literally give families some tools, law enforcement as my state has done, as other states
have done, to be able to take action to remove those weapons for either a set period of time or longer. Make sure that person can't be a threat.
[15:50:21] TRUMP: I like that. Marco.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: And just to add, obviously, that's a state law provision. And I know there's some people working on what we can do at
the federal level to incentivize states to do this. But states are allowed to it right now. And hopefully Florida will do that here shortly. And it
brings home this point. The vice president alluded to it and Congressman Rutherford just touched on it as well.
There are people here that tried to do something. They called the FBI, they called the sheriff's office. But legally, they had no recourse to
sort of get ahead of this and stop it. In terms of taking away of guns and placing them in a facility or some other measure with a court order to
prevent them from being able to do this.
And even if law enforcement had gone to see them, they would have been limited ultimately in their options as well. So this is an idea that
states can do. And I think we can -- there may be something we can do to incentivize it. We've been talking at your office with Senator Blumenthal
and others. But ultimately, states can do that now the way multiple states have already done it. And hopefully Florida will be.
CORNYN: Mr. President, in the 21st Century Cures bill, Senator Murphy and I worked on, part of it involving the mental health and safe communities
acts. We provided additional grants to jurisdictions that use assisted outpatient treatment. So it's sort of a variation on what the vice
president talked about.
Adam Lanza's mother, if he wasn't compliant with his medication, wouldn't follow doctor's order and she needed some help to go to court, a civil
court to get a court order that forced him to take his medication and follow his doctor's orders. Many people with mental illness, if they take
their medication after compliance can function a productive in society. So there are sobriety of tools. And that's one that's already in law in
addition to what the states --
TRUMP: So let me just ask this. Chris and John, are you better off having a one-off bill or can you merge it into Joe and Pat's bill? Because I like
that much better. Having a comprehensive bill. Some people don't like that word comprehensive. I like that word, comprehensive. They say, oh,
that's a bad word. So, is it represent things? I mean, to me, I like the word comprehensive. I'd rather have eight comprehensive bill.
Can you merge yours into this bill or would you rather have a separate, mix, mix bill?
CORNYN: Mr. President, the most important thing you said at the outset is that we act. We don't go home empty handed. So whatever we can do --
TRUMP: But it would really be nice to create something that's beautiful. That works. And you know the biggest thing, Chris? The biggest surprise to
me. Because I've only been doing this for two years. Right? Three years now. Time flies. But I've been here for a little more than a year. What
surprises me more than anything else is that nothing has been done for all these years. Because I really see a lot of common ground, whether it's
Democrat, Republican. I'm so surprised. I'm sitting here and I'm saying, there's a lot of commonality here. There's a lot of people that are
agreeing with pretty much everything you guys are writing and what you guys are writing. I don't understand why this hasn't happened for the last 20
years, nothing's happened. So we're going to get it done.
MURPHY: I think we can add anything to Fix NICS that has 60 votes. And I think our argument is that background checks can be added to this if it has
your support. Mr. President, I would just add, I hope we follow the data here. Because the data is going to tell you -- we talk a lot about safe
schools, a lot about mental illness. But data tells you that America has a gun violence. It is 20 times out of every other industrialized country in
the world. But we don't have a higher mental illness rate. Our schools aren't less safe. We don't spend less money on law enforcement. What's
different is that we have the loosest, most lax gun laws in the nation. So I'm all for doing everything, but we should fix the mental illness system,
because it's broken. Period stop. Not because we think that it's going to solve the gun violence after that. The data tells us that the one thing
that is different about the United States is our unbelievably loose gun laws. And I hope we follow it. That's right.
TRUMP: That's why I think they work together. I like them together better.
But Joe, you have to fix mental illness. If somebody is mentally ill, right now, they can go out and they can buy. You can't take it away. It's
ridiculous. You got to fix it. And you're going to fix it. I'm sure you're going to fix it. And I like a merger. Because I think the merger
works out better.
Chuck, were you going to say one thing?
SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R), IOWA: You're showing leadership through this meeting and following on what Marsha said about the incivility of our
society and the culture of our society, the thought came to my mind that maybe you could show leadership about all the violence we have out of
Hollywood and all these videos.
You watch Fox News like I do. And every night you see all these films about everybody being blown up. Well, just think of the impact that makes
on young people. Get them in here and preach to them like you're preaching to us.
[15:55:01] TRUMP: But actually, Fox News does a very good job. But you're right. It's very violent. The movies are violent and the videos are
violent beyond anything anybody has ever seen before.
GRASSLEY: You had governors telling you this week, the same thing that the culture of our society has got to change if we're going to stop this.
TRUMP: I agree with this. I agree. Elizabeth?
REP. ELIZABETH ESTY (D), CONNECTICUT: Thank you very much, Mr. President. Mr. Vice president. I've been wearing a bracelet like this for more than
five years. We're elected at the same time and I was sitting with new member training when I got calls and texts about a school shooting of what
turned out to be 26 and 27-year-old (INAUDIBLE) so I haven't had a day. I don't think about this. Like Chris and I don't think about it. That's
been our nightmare for the people we represent. It's now Ted's nightmare and it is now your nightmare.
TRUMP: So why didn't they do something about it when that happened? You look at Columbine, you look at so many of these horrible events. Why
didn't they do something about it? Why didn't this group of people plus others and some have gone and some will be here.
ESTY: Well, I think people try, but I think your point is this. We're at a tipping point. We're at a tipping point. And why we are, I don't know.
But I think it's the students. I think it's the students --
TRUMP: Do you know where we are? Because a week will go by, another week, another week, another week, and all of a sudden, people are going be onto
other things. We can't let that happen.
ESTY: We have the power to change that.
TRUMP: You know that's what's happened.
ESTY: So I think there are two things that we can do right now. I think the Manchin-Toomey which has companion in the house, that King Thompson has
200 bipartisan co-sponsors. 200. You only need 218 to pass. That is ready to go.
TRUMP: I think congress is going to be fine. I really do. If we can come up with something that's very strong, very heavy with mental illness, very
heavy in everything, the background checks are so important.
People are afraid to do background checks because you're afraid of somebody. And you know what? You're going to be more popular if you do --
if you have a strong, good -- I don't care who's endorsing you. You're going to be more popular, that's what you're into. I'm not into
popularity. I'm into getting something done that's good. I don't want to just get it done. We got to get something good that's done. Let's do it
properly. Yes, John. Real fast.
RUTHERFORD: Let me talk about how to get guns, keep guns out of the hands of good folk -- or bad folks. One of the issues is the gun show loophole
that everyone talks about. But it's also guns that are stolen out of cars that are -- good gun owners are not storing them properly. Stolen guns
kill more people than guns that are bought legally. One way to prevent that is through a background check at the point of sale of every gun. FFL
dealers, they do it. But I can buy a gun off the street from an individual that I've never met before and nobody does a background check. Here's what
you do. You require a purchaser's permit at the point of sale of every gun in this country. At the point of sale, you have to have a buyer's permit.
And the way you get your buyer's permit is, if I want to buy a gun from Senator Rubio, I go to an FFL dealer. I have my background check run, I
get my buyer's permit. I take it to him and he sells me his gun after I show him my permit.
TRUMP: The NRA would love this.
RUTHERFORD: Now listen, if I don't have my permit, it's against the law for him to sell it to me. And it's against the law for me to buy it. Now,
everybody is thinking, well, heck, nobody is going to do that and who's got to know? Then the law enforcement has the opportunity to go into the
streets and buy and sell guns from people who are in there, buying, selling guns right now. And we can actually make arrests and get those guys off
the street who are selling guns illegally -- well, they're not illegal sales, but they're selling those guys who probably are illegal.
TRUMP: The problem is you have a real black market. They don't worry about anything. They don't worry about anything that you're saying. They
sell a gun and the buyer doesn't care and the seller -- and that's one of the problems we are all going to have.
And you have that problem with drugs. You make the drugs illegal and they come, you've never had a problem like that. We're fighting it hard but
you've never had a problem like this. So you have the same problem with guns. You have a lot of great people go out and register, do all sorts of
things. But you have a black market where they don't even think about registering or they're not going to be looking at Joe and Pat's bill. They
couldn't care less about it. And we have to be very strong on that. I think you can have provisions on that too. Big, big penalties. Strong
John, you got to finish up.
RUTHERFORD: Well, I'm just going to say. The purchaser's permit allows law enforcement to then go into that black market and buy and sell guns and
make arrests of the folks who are in there doing illegally.
TRUMP: That would be very tough on the black market.