- The Washington Times
Sunday, August 18, 2019

Sen. Joe Manchin III said Sunday that while President Trump hasn’t pledged support for his bill to expand background checks — or for any other gun measures — he is “encouraged” by talks on Capitol Hill in the wake of mass shootings in Texas and Ohio.

“We haven’t had this before,” the West Virginia Democrat said of the dialogue.

Speaking to CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Mr. Manchin said he’s hoping to overcome GOP opposition to his bill, co-written with Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, that would expand the number of gun sales subject to background checks.

He also hailed Sen. Lindsey Graham’s work on so-called “red flag” legislation that would encourage states and localities to have a process to temporarily take guns from the hands of dangerous individuals.

“We have the ability to do these things that really make sense,” Mr. Manchin said.

It’s unclear which measures will win Mr. Trump’s support. Segments of his base are wary of gun control measures, and he’s said there is no political appetite for a ban on so-called assault weapons.

Mr. Trump reiterated later Sunday that he is open to signing bills on the issue, as long as mental-health issues are not ignored and the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms not be infringed.

“Congress is working on that, they have bipartisan committees working on background checks and various other things and we’ll see,” Mr. Trump said at an impromptu press gaggle as he returned to Washington from a working vacation in New Jersey. “I don’t want them to forget that this is a mental health problem.”

He said that “Congress is working on various things and I’ll be looking at it … We’re going to look at a whole list of things and I’ll make a determination then.”

His insistence on protection for the core Constitutional gun right, he said, does not mean he is taking universal background checks off the table.

“I’m not saying anything, I’m saying Congress is going to report back to me with ideas,” he said. “But just remember, we already have a lot of background checks.”

Mr. Manchin appealed to the president’s eagerness to break ground where past leaders failed.

“President Trump has a golden opportunity, truly a golden opportunity to start making America safe again,” he said. “We shouldn’t be living in fear in America.”

On the other side of Capitol Hill, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler has announced that his panel will cut short the summer vacation and come back early just after Labor Day next month to vote on gun control bills.

The bills would ban large-capacity ammunition magazines, allow courts to issue “extreme risk protection orders” to restrict certain individuals from possessing a firearm and prohibit individuals convicted of a hate crime from purchasing a gun.

The committee will take them up on Sept. 4 — cutting about a week out of members’ planned six-week summer vacation.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, has signaled he is not likely to recall his chamber early though.

Mr. Nadler also announced the committee will also hold a hearing on “military-style assault weapons” on Sept. 25.

“For far too long, politicians in Washington have only offered thoughts and prayers in the wake of gun violence tragedies,” Mr. Nadler said in a statement. “Thoughts and prayers have never been enough. We must act.”

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