MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Congressman Ted Deutch was one of the lawmakers invited this week to discuss a possible bipartisan gun bill with President Donald Trump.
Discussions have drastically increased, and many people believe rightly so, in the wake of the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, which cost 17 people their lives.
Deutch represents District 22 in Florida, which includes Parkland.
Students at Stoneman Douglas High returned to their school this week.
It was far from normal, as scores of police and supporters from the community and around the country, lined the streets.
Nevertheless, it was a welcome first step for many of the students, faculty and staff.
“It’s really hard for these kids,” Deutch said on Facing South Florida. “Remember, they really are survivors. Some of them saw some of the most horrific images; they’re back in school but it’s a long process and they’re going to need the support of not just their teachers, who also are struggling, but the whole community.”
In Tallahassee, several bills are still moving through the process though it’s clear there will not be an assault weapon ban.
And then there was Washington, where President Trump held a bipartisan meeting with members of Congress on guns.
He appeared to endorse universal background checks, closing the so-called gun-show loophole.
He called on raising the age to buy assault-style weapons from 18 to 21.
The theme of saying how others are afraid of the NRA, but he isn’t, is something the President returned to time and again.
“It was pretty astounding to watch the reaction when the president looked at my colleagues, looked at members of the House and Senate, and repeatedly told them that they’re petrified of the NRA,” Deutch said.
He said it would be easy to get the 60 votes for a wide-ranging gun bill.
Trump also made some comments about taking away guns that left his fellow Republicans at the table in stunned disbelief.
“Everything he talked about has broad bipartisan support,” Deutch explained. “The only place it doesn’t enjoy full support is in Congress because of the power of the gun lobby, and the president pointed that out. That was very powerful. If this is going to get done, if we’re going to take meaningful action, he’s got to push to make that happen. He seemed committed to doing just that.”
While it seemed that those lobbying for gun law changes had scored a victory with the president, Deutch knows that what Trump said must be taken with a grain of salt.
“The president said a lot of the things that we would want anyone to say. The questions is where it goes from here,” Deutch said.
Meanwhile, the NRA continues to put out strong messages, even meeting with the president earlier this week.
Despite the confident posturing, some believe that there is some serious concern going on behind the scenes with the NRA.
“Here’s what the NRA is dealing with at this moment,” Deutch said. “They’re dealing with this change that is happening all around them that they can’t control. They look at what these kids, these student survivors from Stoneman Douglas have done, the fact that more than a dozen companies have severed their ties with the NRA. The fact that these major companies, Dicks and Walmart and others, have taken steps to raise the age to buy a gun to 21 or to stop selling assault weapons, or both. And they realize that this isn’t going to stop, that this movement is just beginning.”
Ultimately it will be the voters who hold the loudest voice and Deutch believes that those voters, who now only want to care about safety in schools, are scaring the NRA.
“[The NRA is] trying to preserve the position that they’ve held throughout, which is they get to decide gun policy. They don’t get to decide gun policy,” Deutch said. “There is a growing and loud and ferocious group of voters for whom there is one policy they care about in the next election and that’s whether you’re willing to take action to stop guns and keep our kids safe.”
The main difference this time around, Deutch believes, is the student survivors from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Those young adults are motivated and now the pressure is mounting on lawmakers to do something.
“I’ve heard…last night at dinner someone came up to me. It happens every day, there are people who come up and say ‘they messed with the wrong school, they messed with the wrong community.’ These student survivors are not going to just let this go,” Deutch said. “I think congress will have to [pass something on gun safety]. Here’s what’s going to happen; on March 24th there will be millions of people in Washington and around the country marching for gun violence prevention.”