President Trump says gun legislation is top priority for lawmakers

Politics

WASHINGTON (ABC News) – President Trump thinks he can bring Republicans and even the NRA around to supporting stronger federal background check laws.

His comments come about a week after mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton. Democrats are both hopeful and skeptical that there will be new action on guns.

After two more mass shootings left 31 dead, there are signs that Republicans are may be ready to take some action on gun control.

“I think we can have some really meaningful background checks. We don’t want people that are mentally ill, people that are sick, we don’t want them having guns,” Trump said. “I will tell you, I spoke to [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell yesterday — He’s totally on board.”

That would be a welcome change for gun safety advocates. Two bills expanding background checks were passed with bipartisan support by the House back in February and but were held up in the Senate. While the Senate Majority Leader is still not bringing lawmakers back from recess for immediate action, McConnell is signaling he’s open to reviewing new measures in the fall.

“Background checks and red flags will probably lead the discussion. Those are two items that for sure will be front and center,” McConnell said.

The NRA is warning Republicans that expanding background checks would not be popular with their members, but Trump said he is not worried about the gun lobby.

“I have a lot of respect for the people at the NRA, and I have already spoken to them on numerous occasions,” said Trump. “This isn’t a question of NRA, Republican or Democrat.”

But some Democrats worry the president could change course again.

“We cannot hold our breath and hope that it will. All of us need to come together and provide that pressure to ensure that they will,” said Democratic hopeful Beto O’Rourke.

Another Democrat running for president, Julian Castro also epressed his worry that nothing would change.

“I expect, that probably what’s going to happen is in a few days the president is going to drop this,” he said.

Trump has gone back on promises to lead on tougher gun control measures before, including after the 2018 Parkland, Florida, school shooting. No legislation was passed after that shooting.

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