Don’t worry about powerful gun lobby NRA, Trump tells US governors

WASHINGTON: United States President Donald Trump on Monday urged governors not to be afraid of the nation's most powerful gun lobby as they seek to beef up school safety after the recent deadly mass shooting in Parkland, Florida.

Mr Trump has embraced the National Rifle Association (NRA)'s call to safeguard schools by arming teachers, but he also has voiced support for strengthening background checks for prospective gun buyers - a proposal the politically powerful NRA has traditionally resisted.

"Don't worry about the NRA. They are on our side," Mr Trump told more than 35 governors during a meeting.

"If they are not with you, we have to fight them every once in a while. That's okay. They are doing what they think is right."

Mr Trump, who backed gun rights during and since his 2016 presidential campaign, has been under pressure to show he is responding without alienating Republicans who oppose firearms restrictions. He plans to meet with lawmakers from both parties to discuss possible legislation today, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said.

The debate between proponents of gun rights and advocates of firearms controls was reignited by the Feb 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

The 14 students and three adult educators killed were shot with a semi-automatic AR-15-style assault weapon, which the authorities say was purchased legally last year by the accused gunman, Nikolas Cruz, when he was 18.

Cruz, now 19, a former student at the school who the authorities say had a history of run-ins with the law and was expelled from school, has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. - REUTERS