President Trump suggested Democrats have given up any defense of the Second Amendment and pledged that he will not allow Americans’ gun rights to be swept away on the “slippery slope” of gun control.
House Democrats have pushed for federal background checks on the sale of any firearms, as well as the expansion of existing background checks to include virtually all sales of weapons at gun shows or online.
Currently, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) is employed for sales involving licensed firearms dealers, which constitute the majority of all firearm sales.
But Republicans have refused to take up several Democratic-backed gun control bills that passed the House, saying they would encroach upon the Second Amendment without preventing the vast majority of shootings.
The Trump administration unilaterally banned bump stocks and other gun modifiers that make semi-automatic firearms fire faster in 2018, after a deadly mass shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada in 2017 left 58 dead and more than 800 injured. The move angered some conservatives, but the Supreme Court upheld the ban earlier this year.
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who spoke with Trump last week, said the president expressed support then for working across the aisle “to come up with a background checks bill that can pass the Senate and save lives.”
Trump, however, made his decision clear when he made the following comments while speaking to reporters in the Oval Office on Tuesday.
He said, “We have very, very strong background checks right now. But we have, sort of, missing areas and areas that don’t complete the whole circle. And we’re looking at different things.”
He added, “And I have to tell you that it is a mental problem. And I’ve said it a hundred times: It’s not the gun that pulls the trigger; it’s the person that pulls the trigger. These are sick people, and it is also that kind of a problem.”
Trump was then asked point blank if he wanted to see Senate passage of gun control bills passed in the Democrat-controlled House.
“Well, I’m not going to get into that. But we are in very meaningful discussions with the Democrats. And I think the Republicans are very unified. We are very strong on our Second Amendment. The Democrats are not strong at all on the Second Amendment. I would say they’re weak on the Second Amendment, and we have to be careful of that.”
“The Democrats would, I believe — I think they’d give up the Second Amendment. And the people that — a lot of the people that put me where I am are strong believers in the Second Amendment — and I am, also. And we have to be very careful about that.
You know, they call it the “slippery slope,” and all of the sudden, everything gets taken away. We’re not going to let that happen.”
Politico reported that Trump was asked about the background check gun control push and he said, “I’m not saying anything. I’m saying Congress is going to be reporting back to me with ideas. And they’ll come in from Democrats and Republicans. And I’ll look at it very strongly. But just remember, we already have a lot of background checks.”