AP

President Trump says he wants background check laws, also reassures NRA

Aug 9, 2019, 11:26 AM | Updated: 11:52 am
Trump background check laws Ukraine talking points...
File: President Donald Trump walks down the steps of Air Force One at Francis S. Gabreski Airport in Westhampton Beach, N.Y., Friday, Aug. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump said Friday he believes he has the influence to rally Republicans around stronger federal background check laws as Congress and the White House work on a response to last weekend’s mass shootings in Texas and Ohio.

At the same time, Mr. Trump said he had assured the National Rifle Association that its gun-rights views would be “fully represented and respected.”

He said he was hopeful the NRA would not be an obstacle to strengthening the nation’s gun laws.

What’s changed for background check legislation

President Trump has promised to lead on tougher gun control measures before, including after the 2018 Parkland, Florida, school shooting, but little has come of it. His comments in the wake of the twin massacres marked his most optimistic and supportive words in favor of more stringent gun laws, though he left the details vague and it remained to be seen how much political capital Trump would throw behind marshaling Republicans on the issue.

He said Friday he now is looking for “very meaningful background checks” but is not considering a resurrection of an assault weapons ban. He said he also believes lawmakers will support “red flag” laws that allow guns to be removed from those who may be a danger to themselves and others.

“I see a better feeling right now toward getting something meaningful done,” the president told reporters when asked why the political environment was different now.

“I have a greater influence now over the Senate and the House,” he said at the White House.

Democrats and others have been skeptical of Mr. Trump’s commitment to genuine gun control, judging from past experience. But he said he was behind it.

“The Republicans are going to be great and lead the charge along with the Democrats,” he declared, saying he’d spoken with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell whom he proclaimed to be “totally on board.”

But McConnell, thus far, has only committed to a discussion of the issue. Republicans have long opposed expanding background checks — a bill passed by the Democratic-led House is stalled in McConnell’s Senate — but they face new pressure after the shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, that left 31 people dead.

Bipartisan support for background check laws?

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted in response Friday that McConnell must bring up the House-passed legislation, which President Trump had previously threatened to veto. “To get anything meaningful done to address gun violence, we need his commitment to hold a Senate vote on the House-passed background checks legislation,” Schumer said.

As for the NRA, which has contributed millions to help Mr. Trump and other Republicans, the gun lobby’s chief executive, Wayne LaPierre, said this week that some federal gun control proposals “would make millions of law-abiding Americans less safe and less able to defend themselves and their loved ones.”

But the president said he’d spoken with LaPierre this week and “I think in the end, Wayne and the NRA will either be there or either be a little more neutral.”

“Frankly, I really think they’re going to get there also,” he added.

On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader McConnell said he now wants background checks and other action, setting up a potentially pivotal moment when lawmakers return in the fall.

Next steps

The Republican leader won’t be calling senators back to work early, as some are demanding. But he told a Kentucky radio station that President Trump called him Thursday morning and they talked about several ideas. The president, he said, is “anxious to get an outcome and so am I.”

“What we can’t do is fail to pass something,” McConnell said.

Traveling with President Trump to New York, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said he intended to discuss the issue with the president over the weekend. He said he’s in favor of a state-run list system that would prohibit certain people from buying guns.

“I just think the space to do nothing is gone,” he said. “And that’s a good thing.”

McConnell said he and the president discussed background checks and “red flag” laws. “Those are two items that for sure will be front and center as we see what we can come together on and pass,” McConnell told Louisville’s WHAS-AM.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Schumer said Mr. Trump assured them in phone calls Thursday he will review the House-passed bill that would expand federal background checks for firearm sales.

In a joint statement, they said President Trump called them individually after Pelosi sent a letter asking the president to order the Senate back to Washington to consider gun violence measures.

Schumer and Pelosi said they told Mr. Trump the best immediate step would be for the Senate to take up and pass the House bill. Trump, they said, “understood our interest in moving as quickly as possible to help save lives.”

Campaign spending and the gun lobby

The politics of gun control are shifting amid the frequency and toll of mass shootings. Spending to support candidates backing tougher gun control measures — mostly Democrats — surged in the 2018 midterms, even as campaign spending by the NRA declined.

The NRA says proposals being discussed in Congress would not have prevented the shootings in Texas and Ohio.

McConnell rejected the idea of reconvening the Senate, saying calling senators back now would just lead to people “scoring points and nothing would happen.”

Instead, the GOP leader wants to spend the August recess talking with Democratic and Republican senators to see what’s possible. Senators have been talking among themselves, and holding conference calls, to sort out strategy.

The politics of gun violence are difficult for Republicans, including McConnell. He could risk losing support as he seeks reelection in Kentucky if he were to back restricting access to firearms and ammunition. Other Republicans, including those in Colorado, Maine and swing states, also would face difficult votes, despite the clamor for gun laws.
___

Associated Press writer Bruce Schreiner in Louisville, Kentucky and Jill Colvin in Westhampton, New York contributed to this report.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

AP

Microsoft is cutting 10,000 workers, almost 5% of its workforce, in response to "macroeconomic cond...
MATT O'BRIEN, Associated Press

Job cuts in tech sector spread, Microsoft lays off 10,000

Microsoft said in a regulatory filing Wednesday that had just notified employees of the layoffs, some of which begin immediately.
15 days ago
exxon mobil sign pictured...
SETH BORENSTEIN and CATHY BUSSEWITZ Associated Press

Study: Exxon Mobil accurately predicted warming since 1970s

Exxon said its understanding of climate change evolved over the years and that critics are misunderstanding its earlier research.
21 days ago
FILE - Protesters, supporters of Brazil's former President Jair Bolsonaro, stand on the roof of the...
The Associated Press

Brazil and Jan. 6 in US: Parallel attacks, but not identical

RIO DE JANIERO, Brazil — Enraged protesters broke into government buildings that are the very symbol of their country’s democracy. Driven by conspiracy theories about their candidate’s loss in the last election, they smashed windows, sifted through the desks of lawmakers and trashed the highest offices in the land in a rampage that lasted hours […]
23 days ago
President Joe Biden pictured...
ZEKE MILLER AP White House Correspondent

DOJ reviewing potentially classified docs at Biden center

Special counsel to the president Richard Sauber said “a small number of documents with classified markings” were discovered at the offices of the Penn Biden Center.
24 days ago
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 06: A poster advertising the launch of Prince Harry's memoir "Spare" is s...
Jill Lawless Associated Press

Prince Harry says explosive book is a bid to ‘own my story’

Prince Harry defended his decision to publish a memoir that lays bare rifts inside Britain’s royal family.
24 days ago
utah capitol, a new bill heading to lawmakers will affect the utah sex offender registry...
HANNAH SCHOENBAUM Associated Press/Report for America

States target transgender health care in first bills of 2023

After a record flow of anti-transgender legislation last year, Republican state lawmakers this year are zeroing in on questions of bodily autonomy.
26 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...
Macey's

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
President Trump says he wants background check laws, also reassures NRA