Senators pitch Trump on expanded gun background check bill

Carolyn Kaster  AP

Carolyn Kaster AP

A bipartisan group of three United States senators on Wednesday said they were attempting to revive legislation that failed in 2013 to close loopholes on the law requiring gun sale background checks, but were awaiting word on whether President Donald Trump will support their effort.

Congressional Democrats have called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to hold a Senate vote on expanded background check legislation that previously passed the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he would not bring those background check bills to the floor unless Trump says he would sign them into law. Congress has not enacted any gun control legislation in decades.

Sen. John Cornyn told reporters that White House officials are expected to present gun violence policy options to Trump later in the week, but where the president will wind up on the issue is completely unpredictable. The U.S. had seen at least 295 mass shootings in 2019 as of September 11, meaning there have been more mass shootings than days in the year thus far, according to data compiled by the non-profit Gun Violence Archive.

But he offered few clues about what he is willing to put his weight behind, even as he insisted that "progress is being made". "We're having great dialogue".

"It's really 'Gun Sense, ' if you think about it", Trump said, suggesting that any bill lawmakers come up with should bear that name.

"We're looking at background checks, and we're looking at putting everything together in a unified way so that we can have something that's meaningful", he continued.

Trump expressed support for closing such loopholes following mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas in August, saying that he supported universal background checks. "It's very important to all of us".

The bipartisan Toomey-Manchin legislation failed to pass the Senate in 2013, and many Republicans continue to oppose the idea as an infringement on gun rights. Democrats are now working in a coordinated way between the House and the Senate to pressure McConnell to allow a vote on gun reform bills already approved by the House.

Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, the committee's top Republican, said the measures were problematic and could "work to make us feel better about what we're doing but in the end not actually help in those situations in a real way, and in many ways, could actually add to the problem".

Hoyer, though, was noncommittal about action on an assault weapons ban that is backed by many liberals in his party.

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