- The Washington Times - Friday, March 2, 2018

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Friday that President Trump will not support the so-called Toomey-Manchin gun bill on background checks until lawmakers finalize the details.

Mrs. Sanders told reporters that the president “certainly wants to focus and improve the background check system,” but said Mr. Trump is “not necessarily [supporting] universal background checks” in the Toomey-Manchin bill.

“Universal means something different to a lot of people,” she said at the White House.

The Toomey-Manchin plan would expand background check regulations to gun show and online sales, but does not require them for personal sales, such as a father selling his gun to his son or sales between neighbors. Mrs. Sanders said that once the bill is finalized, the president will decide whether he supports it.

Mr. Trump is on board with the so-called Cornyn-Murphy plan that aims to improve the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, also known as the “Fix NICS” bill.

“As of right now he supports the Cornyn legislation,” Mrs. Sanders said.

The president held a meeting with representatives of the National Rifle Association Thursday, as well as a meeting with families who have been lost loved ones in school shootings. Earlier this week, he met with a group of bipartisan lawmakers to discuss the issue of gun violence and school safety after a mass shooting at a Florida high school left 17 people dead on Feb. 14.

The NRA opposes Mr. Trump’s call to raise the age limit for purchasing certain long guns from 18 to 21, and on Friday, the president seemed to be backing off that proposal as a federal action.

“Conceptually, he still supports raising the age to 21,” Mrs. Sanders told reporters. “But he also knows there’s not a lot of broad support for that. But that’s something he would support. I think he thinks it would probably have more potential in the states than it would at the federal level.”

Asked if the president made promises to the NRA, Mrs. Sanders replied, “Only that he’ll continue to support the Second Amendment. That’s not something that he’s backed away from. The background check system is something that he’s still very much interested in improving.”

She said the White House began sending out invitations Thursday to representatives of the video-game industry for a meeting with Mr. Trump next week. The president and other Republicans say violent video games also can lead to gun violence from children.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York said Friday that Mr. Trump should “go with his instincts” in favor of universal background checks instead of following “the clarion and destructive call of the NRA.”

“He knows instinctively that this is the right thing to do both substantively, because it will save tens of thousands of lives, and politically because over three quarters of the American people support it,” Mr. Schumer said. “If he continues to bow to his right-wing ringmasters, we will get nothing done on guns and his presidency will continue to fail.”

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

• Sally Persons can be reached at spersons@washingtontimes.com.

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