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At CPAC, Trump's base trusts him on guns

In the aftermath of a high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 dead, President Donald Trump is ...

Posted: Feb 23, 2018 11:54 AM
Updated: Feb 23, 2018 11:54 AM

In the aftermath of a high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 dead, President Donald Trump is urging the country and Congress to act.

But, pushing the boundaries of conservative orthodoxy on something as fundamental to the Republican Party as the Second Amendment has the potential to reveal schisms between Trump and the base that elected him.

At the Conservative Political Action Committee, where the President is scheduled to speak Friday morning, voters appeared ready to follow Trump's lead.

"I think everything he's talking about is reasonable," said Sal DiCiccio, a CPAC attendee and a member of the Phoenix city council. "At the end of the day, you don't want crazy people carrying guns. I think they ought to be looking at that. I don't know how they'll get there ... it's going to require breaking barriers down on all sides."

Despite Trump's past positions on guns, conservatives at CPAC say that they were confident Trump would not infringe on the rights they hold dear. Most of what Trump had proposed -- raising the age limits on purchasers of rifles from 18 to 21, tightening background checks and banning the sale of bump stocks -- sits at the fringes of the gun debate, they argue, far from the kinds of more robust measures Congress voted on just five years ago in the wake of Sandy Hook.

"I will be strongly pushing Comprehensive Background Checks with an emphasis on Mental Health. Raise age to 21 and end sale of Bump Stocks! Congress is in a mood to finally do something on this issue - I hope!," Trump tweeted Thursday morning.

At CPAC, most conservatives have trust in their Republican President that they never had in Democratic President Barack Obama, who campaigned after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School to ban assault-style weapons and limit high-capacity magazines.

"I think the Second Amendment is a really important thing and I hate to see it tampered with too much, but I understand," 69-year-old Marleia Sire said as she began tearing up talking about the recent shooting. "It's just like, it happens over and over and over again. ... I am in favor of the background checks. Maybe raising the age to 21."

If Obama further polarized Republicans on the gun issue, Trump -- who once said he could back an assault weapons ban in a 2000 book titled "The America We Deserve" -- has the conservative credentials that could make him uniquely situated to tackle reforms that were once seen as a dangerous infringement of Second Amendment rights.

"Even though he had liberal tendencies, his Cabinet has been able to keep him in check and the Congress has been able to hold him to a standard as well as his base," said Kurt Schenher, a 21-year- old student at the University of Connecticut. "I'm not worried he'll go too far."

At a moment when the country is reeling from yet another school shooting, many Trump supporters at CPAC sympathized that the President was under a unique set of pressures to take on at least a modest gun proposal.

Taylor DuVall, a student at the University of Wilmington, said that at this point, "each side needs to give a little bit."

"I think it starts with making sure that every person who has a gun is entered in that system," she said referencing background checks and her belief that states need to improve their input of the records.

In recent days, Trump has been faced with the kinds of moments that no campaign can prepare a politician for. He met with parents and students, law enforcement and victims from Parkland. And over the weekend at Mar-a-Lago, Trump heard from guests grappling with what to do in the wake of the tragedy.

But Trump isn't the only Republican opening the door to changing gun laws in America. On Wednesday night, Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said he was reconsidering his past opposition to limiting high-capacity magazines. And, Sen. Jeff Flake, a Republican from Arizona, announced he is introducing legislation to raise the age at which a person can buy certain kinds of rifles like AR-15s from 18 to 21.

RELATED: 6 things Marco Rubio said at the CNN town hall that made news in the US gun debate

At CPAC -- an event that usually displays a wide range of views in election years -- there was little daylight that could be seen between Trump and the powerful NRA. During his speech Thursday morning, the National Rifle Association's executive vice president and CEO Wayne LaPierre, didn't address Trump's latest statements on guns even though the NRA has said they are opposed to raising the age limits on rifle purchases from 18 to 21.

Sen. Pat Roberts, a Republican from Kansas, told the Kansas City Star on Thursday that he thought "we're ready as a Congress to actually pass something and I think it's going to be better background checks. Certainly nobody under 21 should have an AR-15."

Over and over again, attendees at CPAC -- many of them students -- argued that they wanted to see more security in schools, but few seemed to be worried that Trump was abandoning the GOP's key principles on the Second Amendment.

"I would probably echo the sentiments of what Wayne LaPierre said this morning, which was that we don't need more background checks, we just need to make sure our background check system is working and that what we are looking for is effective," said Cassandra Stecker, a 17-year-old attendee at CPAC. "I think that the President has been a little bit vague about whether he's going to have just more or better background checks, but if he wants better background checks, I don't see a problem with that at all."

The President said Thursday afternoon that he wasn't looking to engage in a political fight with the NRA. Instead, he held out hope they could work together.

"I don't think I'll be going up against them. They're going to do what's right. They're very close to me. I'm close to them. The NRA wants to do the right thing," Trump said. "I've spoken to them often in the last two days. It's not a battle -- I think the NRA wants to do the right thing."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 320174

Reported Deaths: 7390
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22294271
Hinds20755424
Harrison18450317
Rankin13923282
Jackson13733249
Madison10273225
Lee10063176
Jones8473167
Forrest7837153
Lauderdale7263242
Lowndes6523150
Lamar636288
Lafayette6314121
Washington5427138
Bolivar4841133
Panola4671110
Oktibbeha466398
Pearl River4606148
Marshall4574105
Warren4440121
Pontotoc425973
Monroe4162136
Union415877
Neshoba4065180
Lincoln4009113
Hancock387687
Leflore3516125
Tate342586
Sunflower339491
Pike3373111
Alcorn327474
Scott320374
Yazoo314571
Adams308486
Itawamba305178
Copiah299966
Coahoma299084
Simpson298689
Tippah292268
Prentiss284261
Leake272374
Marion271280
Covington267283
Wayne264842
Grenada264087
George252451
Newton249064
Tishomingo232369
Winston230282
Jasper222148
Attala215173
Chickasaw210659
Holmes190574
Stone188733
Clay187954
Tallahatchie180041
Clarke178980
Calhoun174232
Yalobusha167940
Smith164134
Walthall135447
Greene131834
Lawrence131224
Montgomery128643
Noxubee128034
Perry127538
Amite126342
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Jefferson Davis108334
Tunica108127
Claiborne103130
Benton102325
Humphreys97533
Kemper96729
Franklin85023
Quitman82316
Choctaw79118
Wilkinson69632
Jefferson66328
Sharkey50917
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 549013

Reported Deaths: 11311
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson810461571
Mobile42145831
Madison35718525
Tuscaloosa26179458
Shelby25626254
Montgomery25089614
Baldwin21901314
Lee16287176
Calhoun14724327
Morgan14639285
Etowah14183364
Marshall12454230
Houston10791287
Elmore10301214
Limestone10188157
St. Clair10161251
Cullman9958201
Lauderdale9612250
DeKalb8977190
Talladega8462184
Walker7341280
Autauga7242113
Jackson6953113
Blount6950139
Colbert6415140
Coffee5638127
Dale4930116
Russell454941
Chilton4478116
Franklin431782
Covington4279122
Tallapoosa4144155
Escambia401880
Chambers3728124
Dallas3610158
Clarke353161
Marion3245107
Pike314578
Lawrence3134100
Winston283572
Bibb268564
Geneva258481
Marengo250665
Pickens237062
Barbour234559
Hale227178
Butler224671
Fayette218962
Henry194443
Randolph187644
Cherokee187345
Monroe180641
Washington170739
Macon163051
Clay160159
Crenshaw156357
Cleburne153644
Lamar146937
Lowndes142254
Wilcox126930
Bullock124542
Conecuh113630
Coosa111629
Perry108626
Sumter105832
Greene93634
Choctaw62125
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