Right after the shootings in El Paso and Dayton earlier this month, President Donald Trump took some time between complaining about movies and livetweeting Joe Biden’s speeches to call on Congress to pass “strong background checks.” A few days later, he endorsed “serious discussions” on “meaningful” background checks that were supposedly taking place between congressional leaders.
Anyone who’s listened to Trump over the past several years could tell at the time that this was probably a case of him vaguely wanting to look like he’s doing something without consulting the people who work for him. Today, the Wall Street Journal confirmed that this is the case.
According to the Journal, Trump’s public support for stronger background checks is “causing consternation among conservatives and some of his advisers, who have privately raised concerns about the political and policy fallout of the approach.” The Journal reports that White House advisers and congressional staffers are meeting this week to come up with some kind of compromise while Trump is on vacation.
The New York Times reported separately on Tuesday night that Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy, a leader on gun control in the Senate who formerly represented Newtown in the House, had spoken to Trump via phone, and that Trump indicated he was “serious about pressuring Republicans to act.” Politico reported on Wednesday that staffers for Murphy, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, and Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey—the co-authors of the gun control bill which failed after Sandy Hook—had been meeting with White House legislative affairs director Eric Ueland.
In the meantime, the Journal reports that Trump’s advisers are pleading with the president not to go rogue, lest he risk alienating his gun-happy fanbase a little over a year out from the presidential election:
Amid the increased discussion about gun control, some Trump advisers have urged the president not to throw his support behind any of the gun-control measures being discussed in Congress, including so-called red-flag legislation introduced by top Trump ally Sen. Lindsay Graham (R., S.C.), which aims at temporarily blocking dangerous people from accessing firearms. Some advisers have expressed concern that such legislation could violate the Second Amendment and alienate conservative voters.
And who is one of Trump’s biggest gun control advisers, you might ask? Per the Journal:
Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son who often speaks with his father about his views on gun laws, has raised concerns about both red-flag legislation and about tightening background checks, according to people familiar with the matter.
“Don Jr. is my gun expert,” Mr. Trump told supporters at a fundraiser Friday in Bridgehampton, N.Y., according to one of the people familiar with the matter. “He knows more about guns than anyone I know.”
We’re in fantastic hands.