WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday told governors at the White House they should not be afraid to fight the National Rifle Association after a Florida attacker killed 17 people in one of the country’s deadliest school shootings this month.
The NRA, a powerful gun lobby, endorsed Trump in the presidential election, and many, though not all, of Trump’s policy suggestions in the wake of the Florida shooting have also been recommended by the NRA. Trump said in the meeting that he had recently had lunch with the officials from the group.
But Trump also signaled a willingness to confront his allies when he told governors at a White House meeting, with reporters present, that if the NRA did not back their ideas at times, they should not be afraid to fight them.
“Don’t worry about the NRA. They’re on our side. Half of you are so afraid of the NRA. There’s nothing to be afraid of,” said Trump.
“And you know what, if they’re not with you, we have to fight them every once in a while. That’s OK. They’re doing what they think is right.”
The NRA was not immediately available to comment.
Trump also said authorities need to improve early-warning response systems for violent people.
Authorities have said they had received multiple tips about the Florida high school shooter before his deadly Feb. 14 rampage, and that at least one tip sent to the Federal Bureau of Investigation was not acted on properly.
(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Writing by Makini Brice; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)