gun reform

Trump Is ‘Convinced’ McConnell Will Move on Gun Reform. His Aides Say He Won’t.

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

It’s been almost two weeks since the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton that killed 22 and 9 people respectively, meaning the diversionary thoughts-and-prayers phase has ended, and the refusal to pass gun-control measures in the Senate can begin. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stepped into his role in the choreographed post-shooting process, saying on local radio that he would not call the Senate back from its August break to vote on gun-control measures. Though there have been more mass shootings than days this year, McConnell’s aides have reportedly let it be known that their boss doesn’t intend to endorse any gun-control legislation.

But a little thing like political reality won’t get in the way of President Trump, who said before boarding Air Force One on Tuesday that he is “convinced that Mitch wants to do something,” adding that he believes “McConnell wants to do background checks. I do, too. I think a lot of Republicans do.”

A lot of Republicans don’t. According to CNN, “several conservative allies and Republican lawmakers have privately voiced opposition to his push for background checks, claiming they wouldn’t have stopped the shootings in Dayton and El Paso. These officials have tried to relay their concerns to Trump, encouraging him to advocate for so-called ‘red flag’ laws instead, but he has not been receptive, they said.”

Red flag laws, which also picked up momentum after the Parkland shooting, allow law enforcement to seize guns from people believed to be a danger to themselves or others; in the 17 states in which such laws are on the books, a judge makes the determination on whether or not firearms can be revoked for up to a year, and refusal to comply is treated as a criminal offense. Though Senate Republicans like Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio, and South Dakota’s John Thune have expressed interest in the laws, Democrats are concerned that the measures aren’t strong enough to seriously impact gun violence: Chuck Schumer called such acts “half-measures” after the shootings this month.

The president isn’t the only Trump making a tepid effort in the name of gun control during the Senate recess. Axios reports that Ivanka Trump has “quietly been calling” lawmakers since the El Paso and Dayton shootings in an attempt to prod them toward reform. And according to CNN, the window for Trump’s interest in fortifying gun legislation may be closing: Sources close to the president reportedly worry that his focus may soon pass on to other interests, as it did after the Parkland shooting, when Trump briefly advocated background checks before settling back into routine.

Trump Convinced McConnell Wants Gun Reform, But Aides Say No