Trump: Congress discussing background checks
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump said Friday that congressional leaders are talking about new “meaningful background checks” for gun buyers – but with input from the National Rifle Association and other gun groups that oppose current legislative proposals.
Trump predicted ongoing talks would produce “a very good package” for Congress to consider when it returns from summer recess in September. He also suggested there is a better “feeling” for getting something done than after a school shooting that killed 17 students and staff members in Parkland, Florida last year.
“We don’t want guns in the hands of the wrong people,” Trump told reporters before departing the White House for a pair of fundraisers in New York.
Trump called for “common-sense background” checks, but did not detail what that might include. But he suggested the NRA would have input on whatever package emerges.
“We’ll see where the NRA is … but we have to have meaningful background checks,” Trump said, adding that the gun group has “good people” who want to do the right thing.
“I have a great relationship with the NRA,” he said.
Earlier Friday, Trump said in a pair of tweets that “serious discussions are taking place between House and Senate leadership on meaningful Background Checks,” adding that “guns should not be placed in the hands of mentally ill or deranged people.”
Trump also acknowledged his talks this week with Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the NRA, and other gun rights groups in the wake of last weekend’s mass shootings in Texas and Ohio. Trump said “their very strong views can be fully represented and respected” during the debate over gun policy.
“I am the biggest Second Amendment person there is, but we all must work together for the good and safety of our Country,” Trump said.
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Some congressional Democrats said they are skeptical about Trump’s commitment to new gun safety laws, given his support of the NRA and other gun groups.
“We’ve seen it before,” tweeted Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., the Senate’s top Democrat, on Monday. “An awful shooting occurs. @realDonaldTrump expresses interest in helping. Republicans try to get him off the hook with lesser measures. Nothing happens.”
Trump has heard repeated objections from NRA and some of his own aides who are pushing back against new background check proposals.
While LaPierre has not detailed his discussions with Trump this week, he said in a statement that “the NRA opposes any legislation that unfairly infringes upon the rights of law-abiding citizens.”
Gun control supporters back bills approved by House Democrats that would expand and improve the background check system. The Republican-run Senate has refused to take up the measures.
Congressional action in the short term is highly unlikely. There are no apparent plans to call Congress into session during its August recess. As of mid-day Thursday, Trump had no meetings scheduled with congressional leaders.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has urged Trump or Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to call Congress back into session immediately, breaking up the August recess to address the gun violence crisis.
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McConnell said Thursday he is willing to consider expanding background checks for gun buyers, telling WHAS radio that “what we can’t do is fail to pass something.” He also said that Senate will not take up gun safety issues until September, after the August recess.
“Only serious, bipartisan, bicameral efforts will enable us to continue this important work and produce further legislation that can pass the Senate, pass the House, and earn the president’s signature,” he said.