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WATCH: TRUMP SPEAKS IN NEW HAMPSHIRE

Trump to CPAC: NRA ‘Friends of Mine’ But ‘We Really Do Have to Strengthen Up Background Checks’

In a lengthy and rambling speech at CPAC today, President Donald Trump addressed the subject that has been at the heart of the national discussion these past few days — gun reform. In the wake of the horrific Parkland school shooting that left 17 dead, Trump has expressed openness to expanding background checks and raising the minimum age to purchase AR-15s.

With the CPAC crowd this week already showing a resistance to the mere mention of gun control, Trump walked a fine line in his speech as he touted his proposal to arm teachers and push for more background checks while contrasting it with his love for the NRA. (He conspicuously left out the age requirement for assault-style weapons.)

“So we have to do something that works,” he told the audience. “And one of the big measures that we will do and everybody in this room, I think, has to agree, and there is nobody that loves the Second Amendment more than I do, and there is nobody that respects the NRA, the friends of mine, they backed us all, great people, patriots, but great people.”

He continued, “But we really do have to strengthen up, really strengthen up background checks. We have to do that. And we have to do it for the mentally ill, we have to do very, very — we don’t want people that are mentally ill to be having any form of weaponry. We have to be very strong on that.”

He would then go on to pillorize the notion of “gun free zones,” stating that schools need to be “hardened” and “can’t be soft.”

It should be noted that recent polling shows that there is nearly unanimous support in the country — and among gun owners — for universal background checks.

Watch the clip above, via CNN.

[image via screengrab]

Follow Justin Baragona on Twitter: @justinbaragona

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