President Donald Trump has been in talks with key members of the Senate on potential gun control legislation in the wake of mass shootings that left more than 30 dead earlier this month.
Among the senators with whom Trump has been discussing a proposed bill, according to a senior administration official, are Chris Murphy, D-Conn., one of the Senate’s leading gun control advocates, along with Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., two authors of a 2013 background checks bill that failed to pass in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
White House and Senate aides have also been meeting to discuss the issue, marking the most substantive talks the Trump administration has had to date on gun control policy. The meetings were first reported by the New York Times.
Trump said last week that he had “tremendous support” for possible new measures to tighten background checks on gun buyers, claiming that even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., a traditional opponent of such laws, was backing the effort.
“I spoke to Mitch McConnell yesterday. He's totally on board, he said ‘I've been waiting for your call,’” Trump told reporters Aug. 9 before leaving the White House for his summer retreat in Bedminster, New Jersey. “I spoke to senators that in some cases, friends of mine, but pretty hard-line senators ... hard-line on the Second Amendment.”
“And they understand, we don't want insane people, mentally ill people, bad people, dangerous people, we don't want guns in the hands of the wrong people,” Trump said.
Following the February 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 students and teachers dead, the president at first indicated he could support tightening background checks for gun buyers, but backed away and instead threw his support behind a proposal to arm and train some teachers how to use firearms and called for institutionalizing mentally ill people believed to be capable of violence. Trump has also moved to ban bump stocks, devices that allows semi-automatic rifles to fire continuously like machine guns.
In February, the Democratic-controlled House passed two bills that would have tightened background checks on gun buyers, but the GOP-controlled Senate never took up either of the bills, and Trump had promised to veto the legislation.