The Trump administration is expected to announce its proposal to curb gun violence as soon as next week. But after the Democrats’ fiery debate on gun control, what President Trump will support is far from clear.
The White House has been talking to a trio of lawmakers: Democrats Chris Murphy and Joe Manchin and Republican Pat Toomey. They all support tougher background checks.
“I’m talking about meaningful, write that word, meaningful, meaningful background checks,” Mr. Trump said on August 9.
But Mr. Trump never defined what meaningful means and quickly backed off after talking to the National Rifle Association.
“We already have very serious background checks,” Mr. Trump said on August 21.
Since then, Mr. Trump has called mass shootings a mental health issue and criticized what he sees as overzealous Democrats.
“Democrats want to confiscate guns from law-abiding Americans, so they are totally defenseless when somebody walks into their house with a gun,” Mr. Trump said.
Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke reinforced the president’s argument at this week’s debate.
“Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47. We’re not going to allow it to be used against fellow Americans anymore,” O’Rourke said to loud cheers.
Some of his fellow Democrats now fear O’Rourke’s words will be used against their efforts to pass new gun laws.
“I frankly think that that clip will be played for years at Second Amendment rallies with organizations that try to scare people by saying that democrats are coming for your guns,” said Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware.
The White House wants the president to be seen as taking some action on gun control because the majority of Americans support tougher laws. But his base is not as supportive and the president does not want to risk angering them going into an election year.