Aug 20, 2019

Trump warns of "slippery slope" on gun control amid NRA phone call

President Donald Trump (L) sits beside Executive Vice President and CEO of the National Rifle Association (NRA) Wayne LaPierre (R)in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on February 1, 2017

President Donald Trump and NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre in the White House in 2017. Photo: Michael Reynolds - Pool/Getty Images

President Trump told reporters Tuesday the U.S. already has "very, very strong background" background checks for guns, as he emphasized mental health issues when asked to clarify his stance following 2 mass shootings this month.

The big picture: The president's comments came as National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre said in a Twitter post he had spoken with Trump on Tuesday.

We are very strong on our Second Amendment. ... You know they call it the slippery slope, and all of a sudden everything gets taken away. We’re not going to let that happen."
— President Trump remarks to reporters

Why it matters: Trump's call with LaPierre is the latest sign that his initial motivation to pass meaningful and aggressive legislation in the aftermath of the shootings in El Paso and Dayton has faded.

  • It shows his relationship with the NRA remains strong, having told the gun right's group's conference in 2017 he "will come through" for them.
  • The New York Times notes that Trump's recent dealings with gun rights advocates "have been a reminder that even if his initial instinct after the mass shootings this month was to say he would press for aggressive gun legislation, any such push would be seen as a betrayal of the NRA members who helped elect him."

What he's saying: When asked by reporters to clarify his position on enhanced background checks, Trump would not comment on the 2 gun control bills that passed in the House earlier this year, other than to say "we are in very meaningful discussions with the Democrats." 

"[W]e’re looking at different things. 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."

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