- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 19, 2019

As lawmakers wait for President Trump to make a decision on gun control legislation, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Thursday defended the delay.

Mr. Trump has been using the past six weeks to meet with members from both sides of the aisle and in both chambers to find a solution to gun violence, Mr. McCarthy, California Republican, told reporters.

A string of mass shootings over the August recess left 50 people dead.

“I see President Trump gathering all the information to actually find some way to solve the problem,” Mr. McCarthy said. “I find it very positive that you will find people in his administration, walking and talking inside the Senate and listening to them.”

The administration took the first step in testing a potential position for Mr. Trump and the Republicans on Wednesday, as Attorney General William P. Barr met with lawmakers and floated an idea to expand background checks to all commercial firearm sales, including gun shows.



Senators were left needing more details about how that proposal would work but said it was a good starting-off point.

Their biggest question, however, was: Where did the president stand on the idea?

“That’s an important piece — if the president doesn’t support it, there’s no point. It’s not going to become law,” Sen. Josh Hawley, Missouri Republican, said.

Mr. McCarthy told The Washington Times he was reserving his decision on whether or not to support the idea until after he saw the proposal himself.

Meanwhile, at a press conference on Wednesday, Minority Whip Steve Scalise and several other House Republicans pushed back on the growing calls for gun background checks. They said Democrats were rushing to push through ineffective solutions.

When asked about the appetite among House Republicans for background checks in general, Mr. McCarthy focused on other solutions, such as the bump stock ban and their work to shore up the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

“The appetite in the Republican conference is to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” he told The Times.

Democrats, on the other hand, are holding out for universal background checks, which would apply to private sales.

When asked if Democrats could back something like Mr. Barr’s idea, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pointed out that the White House made it clear that Mr. Trump hadn’t signed off on it yet.

She noted that one of the summer’s deadly shootings occurred because of a “straw purchase” — when someone buys a gun for someone who can’t pass the background check — which doesn’t appear be addressed by the proposal.

Mrs. Pelosi also slammed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for letting the president take the lead on the issue.

“That is to abdicate your role as a leader,” she said.

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