Optimistic Senator Holding Out Hope That Trump Could Still Come Around on Passing New Gun Laws

Photo: J. Scott Applewhite (AP)

Sen. Chris Murphy has been one of the strongest proponents of gun law reform in the Senate for years, working tirelessly to break through the brick wall of Republican obstinacy to make actual progress that could save lives. Donald Trump has been, well, the exact opposite of that.

But despite Trump apparently abandoning a push for universal background checks last week, Murphy’s not giving up. Is this naive? In my opinion, probably! But I applaud him for trying.

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Per Politico’s reporting on Friday:

Fresh off Thursday evening conversations with White House staffers and a recent call with the president himself, the Connecticut Democrat says it is still possible that Trump and Senate Republicans will act in the wake of several recent mass shootings. While Murphy puts the chances of movement at less than 50 percent and recognizes some may deem him naive, he said it’s his “obligation” to keep pushing.

“The president and the White House have been clear. That they are willing to support background checks legislation that might not today be popular in the Republican Party,” Murphy told reporters in Hartford, Conn., on Friday. “The president and the White House has made it clear that they are open to leading on this issue and trying to bring Republicans along with them.”

Is it still possible that Republicans will act? Sure. But it ain’t likely. The gist of Murphy’s point, however, is that reports earlier this week that Trump had promised to give cover to NRA President Wayne LaPierre were overblown and that there’s still a chance the White House will be on board for some kind of background check legislation.

The problem is, what kind of legislation are we going to get out of this? As Politico notes, the Trump admin may draw a distinction between “expanding” background checks (probably in the form of very mildly changing existing laws) and doing actual universal background checks, which would slam shut several popular loopholes and lay the groundwork for a far better system in the future.

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And even the latter has the potential to be an extremely flawed process: as we’ve seen with other legislation, the Republican plans about guns evidently includes slipping in as many poison pills to bills as possible, basically forcing the Democrats to fight to pass legislation that in any just system of government they should shoot down on sight. They’ve already done this to a background check bill in the house. Sure seems to me like the Trump administration is feeding everyone involved a huge load of bullshit, but if Murphy can get anywhere with it, more power to him.

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About the author

Jack Crosbie

Contributing Writer, Splinter