As has become typical after any mass shooting tragedy, anti-gun Democrats immediately rushed to propose gun control infringements upon the Second Amendment after the shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, while many Republicans reiterated their firm stance against more restrictions on gun owners.
President Donald Trump, a generally pragmatic dealmaker in search of a compromise, has decided to look for a middle ground. Trump let the media know on Wednesday that he is “in favor of” legislation to expanded background checks for gun sales, but stopped short of supporting calls for another ban on so-called “assault weapons.”
Expanded background checks for gun purchases
The president stopped to speak with reporters prior to leaving the White House to visit Dayton and El Paso on Wednesday, and it didn’t take long before he was asked to weigh in on the current debate over potential laws to address mass shootings.
Asked about a bill currently mired in Congress that would expand background checks, Trump replied, “Well, I’m looking to do background checks. I think background checks are important. I don’t want to put guns into the hands of mentally unstable people or people with rage or hate, sick people. I don’t want to — I’m all in favor of it.”
Just prior to that question, Trump was asked if he would consider calling Congress, who are on their month-long August recess, back into session early, but he indicated that such a decision would be left up to the various leaders of Congress…unless there was some sort of unspecified deal reached that would require a full vote.
“Assault weapons” ban unlikely
President Trump was also asked where he stood on the idea of a new “assault weapons” ban, and replied, “Well, I can tell you that there is no political appetite for that at this moment.”
“If you look at the — you could speak, you could do your own polling. And there’s no political appetite, probably, from the standpoint of legislature,” he continued. “But I will certainly bring that up. I’ll bring that up as one of the points.”
“There’s a great appetite — and I mean a very strong appetite — for background checks. And I think we can bring up background checks like we’ve never had before. I think both Republican and Democrat are getting close to a bill on — they’re doing something on background checks,” Trump added.
“High-capacity” magazines ban also unlikely
A few moments later a reporter reminded the president of his ban on bump stock attachments and asked he would similarly consider banning “high-capacity magazines,” but the president appeared to relegate that idea to the same place as an “assault weapons” ban, meaning such a move would be unlikely at this point.
“So, you have to have a political appetite within Congress. And, so far, I have not seen that. I mean, I can only do what I can do,” he said in regard to a ban on “high-capacity magazines.”
“I think there’s a great appetite to do something with regard to making sure that mentally unstable, seriously ill people aren’t carrying guns. And I’ve never seen the appetite as strong as it is now. I have not seen it with regard to certain types of weapons,” Trump added, reiterating his openness to expanded background checks but not for bans on certain weapons and certain ammunition magazines.
Despite staunch opposition from Second Amendment supporters against any further infringement of gun rights, Trump is right to note that there is a “strong appetite” among many people, even on the right, to “do something” to address gun violence. The effectiveness of any of the proposed solutions is debatable, but it sure seems like expanded background checks are a thing that could soon happen with the president’s support.