- The Washington Times - Friday, August 9, 2019

President Trump on Friday reiterated his support for new gun control measures, telling reporters on the White House’s South Lawn that he has consulted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and National Rifle Association Chief Executive Wayne LaPierre on how to move forward.

“We need intelligent background checks. I spoke to Mitch McConnell yesterday, he is totally on board. We don’t want insane people, mentally ill people. We don’t want guns in the hands of the wrong people. I think Republicans are going to lead the charge with the Democrats,” he said, adding he has had great conversations with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer.

“We have tremendous support for really common-sense, sensible, important background checks,” he added. “We don’t want people that are mentally ill, people that are sick, having guns. Who does?” he said.

The president’s push for background checks comes after last weekend’s mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, which killed 31 and injured dozens.

Mr. Trump said in tweets Friday that “meaningful Background Checks” is one of the “common sense things” that can be done to curb gun violence.

The president also said he “had a good talk with” Mr. LaPierre, tweeting that the NRA’s views would be “represented and respected.”

“That support has paid off, we now have two Supreme Court justices … who believe in the Second Amendment. There’s been no president who feels more strongly about the Second Amendment than I do,” he said.

“I think in the end Wayne and the NRA will either be there or maybe be a little bit more neutral. And that would be OK, too. I want to see it happen. I think the Democrats and Republicans have a chance to really come together,” he added.

In a statement released Thursday, Mr. LaPierre said the two shooters wouldn’t have been deterred by any of the current background check laws being proposed.

“Worse, they would make millions of law abiding Americans less safe and less able to defend themselves and their loved ones,” the statement said, calling them “soundbite solutions” that “fail to address the root of the problem, confront criminal behavior or make our communities safer.”

Other Republican leaders have supported additional background checks, which is a policy that polls show is supported by 90 percent of voters, including 90 percent of Republicans.

Mr. McConnell said Thursday passing gun legislation will be “front and center” after lawmakers return from the congressional recess in September.

Sen. Lindsey Graham told reporters on Air Force One that “the space to do nothing is gone.”

“I think there’s more pressure on all of us to do something. If you’re out there just living a normal life, this is hard to understand why we can’t do something … The space to do nothing is gone,” the South Carolina Republican and Senate Judiciary Committee chairman said.

The House passed a background check bill in February that Mr. McConnell has refused to take up and Mr. Trump promised to veto. Another bill allowing more time to conduct background checks stopped in the Senate.

The president said there was a “great appetite” for background check legislation but “no political appetite” for banning assault-style weapons, despite polling showing 60% of voters supporting the measure, including 54% of Republicans.

Dave Boyer contributed to this report.

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