The Latest: NRA protests minimum age hike for rifles

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump and guns (all times local):

8:45 p.m.

The National Rifle Association says any legislation aimed at raising the age requirement for rifle and shotgun purchases would deprive young Americans their constitutional right to self-protection.

Federal law already prohibits those under the age of 21 from purchasing handguns from licensed gun dealers.

But some have proposed a similar limit on rifles and shotguns in the wake of last week’s Florida shooting.

NRA spokeswoman Jennifer Baker says, “We need serious proposals to prevent violent criminals and the dangerously mentally ill from acquiring firearms,” but says raising the age requirement on shotguns and rifles from 18 to 21 would punish “law-abiding citizens for the evil acts of criminals.”

President Donald Trump has suggested he might be open to supporting a change in the age requirement for certain weapons.


8:10 p.m.

Democrats are voicing outrage over comments that Republican Rep. Claudia Tenney of New York made claiming that “so many of these people that commit the mass murders end up being Democrats.”

Evan Lukaske, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, says the comments are “unhinged, shameful and disgusting.”

Tenney made the remarks on “Binghamton Now,” a talk radio show, as she discussed the Parkland, Florida, shooting. She added that “the media doesn’t talk about” her assessment.

Tenney released a statement later Wednesday saying, “I will continue to stand up for law-abiding citizens who are smeared by anti-gun liberal elitists.”

Lukaske says Tenney demonstrated “how completely unfit she is to serve in Congress.”

Tenney is serving her first term in Congress. Her race this year is expected to be competitive.


5:41 p.m.

President Donald Trump has concluded an emotional meeting with students and parents affected by school shootings.

Trump offered his thanks to the teary-eyed group of about 40 in the State Dining Room, saying “the world is watching.”

Trump listened as parents called for arming trained school employees to react to shootings, and as one survivor delivered an impassioned plea to ban the rifle used by the shooter in last week’s massacre in Florida.

Trump told them, “There can be nothing worse than what you’ve gone through.” He says he’s exploring strengthening background checks and raising the minimum age for purchasing rifles.

Trump held in his hands a small notecard with a list of key points. Number five, the last one, read: “I hear you.”


5:25 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he’s considering backing proposals to promote concealed carrying of weapons by trained school employees to respond to campus shootings.

Meeting with students and parents affected by school shootings, Trump is responding to a call to arm teachers and other school employees so they can react before law enforcement arrives.

Trump says the average school shooting lasts three minutes, while police response times average from five to eight minutes.

Trump says he believes the proposal could “solve the problem” of school shootings, by making potential attackers think twice. He notes that some airline pilots have carried concealed weapons since the attacks of September 11, 2001.


5:20 p.m.

President Donald Trump says the alleged Parkland school shooter “should have been nabbed a number of times,” alluding to warning signs ignored by the FBI and local police.

Trump says Nikolas Cruz “is a sick guy and he should have been nabbed a number of times, frankly.”

The FBI has launched an internal review to determine how it failed to notify the Miami field office of a critical warning about the alleged shooter.

Meeting with students and parents affected by school shootings, Trump says he’s looking to keep a focus on mental health.

Trump also bemoans how there are fewer “mental institutions” in which to institutionalize those whose activities are troubling but might not be criminal. “There’s no place to bring him,” Trump says.


5 p.m.

Students and parents are delivering emotional appeals to President Donald Trump to act on school safety and guns after last week’s school shooting.

Andrew Pollack, the father of slain Florida student Meadow Pollack, yelled, “”Fix it!”

He says: “It’s not about gun laws right now. We need our children safe.”

Sam Zeif, a Parkland student whose text messages with his brother during last week’s shooting went viral, fought back tears as he told Trump, “I don’t understand why I can go into a store and by a weapon of war.”

“How is it that easy to buy this type of weapon?” he asks of the AR-15 used in the shooting.


4:55 p.m.

Parkland, Florida, Mayor Christine Hunschofsky is encouraging President Donald Trump to strengthen gun laws on the behalf of parents who lost children in last week’s school shooting.

She read messages from the parents of Gina Montalto and Jaime Guttenberg, both 14-year-old students killed last Wednesday.

Hunschofsky says Fred Guttenberg wants the Trump administration to “publicly acknowledge the role of guns” in violence.

“We need action and we need to be solution-oriented,” she tells Trump.

Trump is listening as emotional students and family members recount how they’ve been affected by gun violence in schools and offer solutions for preventing mass shootings in the future.


4:50 p.m.

Senators from both parties are introducing a bill to raise the minimum age required to purchase rifles from gun dealers, including assault weapons such as the AR-15 used in the deadly shooting in Parkland, Florida, last week.

The suspected shooter, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, legally purchased an AR-15 and other long guns after passing a background check.

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California and Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona says they will introduce a bill to raise the minimum age required to purchase rifles from gun dealers from 18 to 21, the same age required to purchase a handgun.

Flake tweeted that, “A kid too young buy a handgun should be too young to buy an #AR15.”


4:45 p.m.

President Donald Trump is hearing the stories of students and parents affected by school shootings, following last week’s deadly shooting in Florida.

Trump says he wants to hear suggestions for addressing gun violence in schools, saying, “After I listen we’re going to get things done.”

Trump says, “We’re going to be very strong on background checks.”

Survivors of last week’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman High School in Parkland, Florida, are at the White House encouraging the president to take steps to strengthen gun ownership laws and consider boosting safety measures at schools.

Ariana Klein, who survived the shooting, tells Trump: “This is not just Parkland anymore, this is America. This is every student in every city.”


4:10 p.m.

Maryland high school students who rallied at the U.S. Capitol in support of stronger gun control have marched to the White House.

Students held a moment of silence Wednesday in memory of those killed at a Parkland, Florida, high school last week, and listened as the names of the dead were recited.

Daniel Gelillo, a senior at Richard Montgomery High in Rockville, Maryland, who helped organize the protest, says students are hoping to pressure lawmakers to finally act on gun control.

Gelillo says that “up ’til now nothing has quite fazed them. The Orlando shooting, Las Vegas and now Parkland. Something has to happen. Innocent people are dying because of the easy access to firearms in this country.”


4 p.m.

President Donald Trump will meet with six students from the south Florida high school recovering from a mass shooting, along with their families and people affected by other mass shootings.

Trump is holding a listening session at the White House today in the wake of the shooting last week that killed 17.

He will also meet with parents of students killed in the Sandy Hook and Columbine massacres, a pastor from Las Vegas and the mayor of Parkland, Florida.

The White House says the goal of the session is to talk about school safety.


1:23 p.m.

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein says the Trump administration lacks authority under current law to ban bump stocks, as President Donald Trump has urged.

Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, says in a statement that leaders of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have made it clear since at least 2013 that bump stocks are not subject to federal firearms laws.

The ATF announced in December that it was reviewing whether weapons that use bump stocks should be considered illegal machine guns. Feinstein said that “if ATF tries to ban these devices after admitting repeatedly that it lacks the authority to do so, that process could be tied up in court for years.”

Feinstein urged Trump to support legislation she has co-sponsored to ban bump stocks.

A gunman in Las Vegas used the so-called “bump stock” devices during a deadly October rampage that killed 59 people.


1:09 p.m.

Hundreds of Maryland high school students are ditching class and rallying at the U.S. Capitol in support of stronger gun control.

Students chanted “Hey hey NRA you can’t beat the PTA!” and waved signs that said, “Make Our Classrooms Safe” and “Fear Has No Place in School.”

Nyrene Monforte, a junior at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, Maryland, says students feel as if their lives are threatened, “and it shouldn’t be like that because we’re children.”

Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland told the crowd that “America’s high school students are leading a revolution against political complacency and collusion with the NRA.” He says students across the country are acting in a long tradition of youth activism “to change America when nobody else would do it.”


12:20 p.m.

The White House says President Donald Trump will host students from the Florida high school recovering from a mass shooting during a “listening session.”

The White House says Trump will “host a conversation on how to improve school safety.” Also in attendance will be people from groups representing survivors of the Sandy Hook and Columbine shootings.

Local parents, students and teachers will participate, as will Vice President Mike Pence and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

The administration is seeking to respond to the shooting in Parkland that left 17 dead. The White House says Trump “looks forward to an open discussion on how we can keep our students safe.”


12:05 p.m.

Geraldo Rivera says he’s discussed the idea of raising the minimum age to purchase assault-type weapons with President Donald Trump, and says Trump “took it under advisement.”

The Fox News contributor says in an email Wednesday that he spoke with Trump during a dinner at Trump’s Florida estate over the weekend. He says Trump “further suggested strongly that he was going to act to strengthen background checks.”

Rivera says Trump was “deeply affected” by visiting survivors of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 dead.

The gunman used an AR-15. Rivera says Trump was “shocked and distressed” by the wounds inflicted.

The White House has said the idea of raising the age limit to buy an AR-15 was on the table for discussion.


1:15 a.m.

President Donald Trump says more must be done to protect America’s children.

Trump is directing the Justice Department to ban devices such as the rapid-fire bump stocks used in last year’s Las Vegas massacre.

Trump is hosting parents, teachers and students for a “listening session” at the White House later Wednesday that will include people affected by school shootings in Parkland, Florida, Columbine, Colorado, and Newtown, Connecticut.

Trump is a strong and vocal supporter of gun rights, and he hasn’t endorsed more robust changes sought by gun control activists.

But the White House is casting the president as having been swayed by the school shooting in Florida and willing to listen to proposals.

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