President Trump renewed his call for “meaningful background checks” for gun purchases on Tuesday, but suggested Democrats could be the hurdle to getting any bill done.
“I don’t know frankly that the Democrats will get us there,” the president told reporters.
He also said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the key Republican on Capitol Hill, is in favor of expanding background checks.
“I am convinced that Mitch wants to do something,” the president said, adding he’d spoken with the Kentucky Republican. “He wants to do background checks, and I do too, and I think a lot of Republicans do.”
Mr. McConnell has not publicly said that. Instead, he’s asked three GOP committee chairmen to see what kind of bipartisan legislation they can craft that can earn Mr. Trump’s signature and stay within the confines of the Second Amendment, which protects individuals’ rights to gun ownership.
Mr. Trump has braved criticism from within conservative circles to repeatedly say he wants to see some action on background checks in the wake of two mass shootings earlier this month.
Democrats already pushed a background check bill through the House this year, but it cleared on a near-party line vote, giving it dim prospects in the Senate. A key Republican senator has said he would try to strike a deal on a bill that could gain support in the Senate, but party leaders have not been publicly encouraging of that effort.
Mr. Trump said he had a “good conversation” with Sen. Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat and prominent gun-control advocate who’d been begging the president to take leadership on the issue.
Mr. Trump did not expand on his statement that Democrats may be the hurdle to passing a bill, but defended his own willingness to take action even in defiance of some Republicans.
“There’s nobody more pro-Second Amendment than Donald Trump, but I don’t want guns in the hands of a lunatic or a maniac,” the president said. “I think if we did proper background checks you could prevent that.”
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