Senators await Trump's decision on gun proposals
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The gun debate is intensifying on Capitol Hill heading into the weekend as senators anticipate President Donald Trump’s decision on what gun safety measures the White House will support. The week comes to an end after a tense partisan battle on the issue.
“I’ve been urging the President to support the idea that we would require background checks on all commercial gun sales,” said U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), the lead Senate Republican in talks with the White House.
“We can and should ban assault weapons and large magazines,” U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said this week during a speech on the Senate floor.
Democrats are calling on Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to allow a vote on an expanded background checks bill the house passed back in February.
“If they don’t do that, I think the American people are going to really doubt as to whether or not the Republican Party is going to surrender to the problem of gun violence,” said U.S. Sen. Bob Casey.
But getting a vote is unlikely to happen until McConnell knows what Trump will support.
“We’re waiting for something we know, if it passed, would actually become law,” McConnell said this week.
Toomey was among a group of lawmakers who spoke directly with Trump for 40 minutes on Wednesday. He called those talks “extensive.”
Toomey is proposing background checks on all commercial gun sales. But his plan would not go as far as the House version, which calls for background checks on private sales along with other provisions; the House version would allow transfers among relatives. “Manchin-Toomey,” as the bill is known in conjunction with West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin, is believed to be among several options Trump is considering, including “red flag” laws.
“I am not interested in supporting anything that would infringe on the 2ndAmendment rights of law-abiding citizens,” Toomey said. “But a background check does not infringe on anybody’s rights.”
A PBS NewsHour, NPR and Marist poll released this week found that most Americans agree, with 83 percent of believing Congress should expand background checks.; another 72 percent support a national red-flag law, which gives judges the right to remove guns from someone considered a threat to themselves or others.
The House Judiciary Committee advanced their version of a national red-flag law on Tuesday. The full House would have to pass it before it goes to the Senate.