Aug 21, 2019

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

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."

Go deeper:

Go deeper

After Texas shootings, 2020 Democrats push for gun control measures

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke speaks during the 2020 Public Service Forum hosted in Las Vegas. Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Democratic presidential candidates joined fellow 2020 hopeful Beto O’Rourke in speaking of the need for gun control on Saturday following a second mass shooting in Texas in August.

"Don’t know what the motivation is, do not yet know the firearms that were used or how they acquired them, but we do know this is f**ked up. We do know that this has to stop in this country. There is no reason that we have to accept this as our fortune, as our future, as our fate, and yet functionally right now we have. ... To have a Congress that will not ... even pass universal background checks or close those loopholes that allow people to buy a firearm when they should not be able to."
— Former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke at an event in Fairfax Station, Virginia
Go deeperArrowUpdated Sep 1, 2019

March for Our Lives launches gun control plan to spur 2020 youth vote

David Hogg speaks onstage at March For Our Lives in 2018. Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for March For Our Lives

March for Our Lives, started by student activists who survived the 2018 mass shooting in Parkland, Fla., launched a massive gun control plan Wednesday aimed at kicking off a youth voting surge in 2020.

Why it matters: It was the influential group's first public action since the recent mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton.

Go deeperArrowAug 21, 2019

Democrats step up pressure for Republicans to act on gun control

House Judiciary Committee Rep. Jerry Nadler speaks to members of the press. Photo: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

Democrats increased pressure on Republicans Tuesday to act on gun control, advancing new measures and sending a letter to Sen. Mitch McConnell. But McConnell made clear after meeting with President Trump on the issue that the decision rests with Trump, ABC News reports.

Why it matters: Gun violence has become a hot-button issue after August's mass shootings in El Paso, Dayton and the West Texas sister cities of Odessa and Midland. Per Reuters, there's a coordinated Democratic strategy to press McConnell to allow a vote on gun control bills.

Go deeperArrowSep 11, 2019