President Trump open to improving background checks, spokesman says

WASHINGTON DC — President Donald Trump “is supportive of efforts to improve the federal background check system” for gun purchases, less than a week after the Florida school shooting that killed 17 people.

Principal Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah said in a statement on Monday that Trump spoke with Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, on Friday about a bill he introduced with Sen. Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat, that aims to strengthen how state and federal governments report offenses that could prohibit people from buying a gun.

“While discussions are ongoing and revisions are being considered, the President is supportive of efforts to improve the federal background check system,” Shah said. Students, teachers and lawmakers have urged Trump and other Republican lawmakers to take action on guns in the wake of the Parkland, Florida, shooting.

Trump, however, ran for president as a pro-gun candidate and tied himself to the National Rifle Association throughout the campaign. He also said he was open to banning bump stocks in the wake of last fall’s Las Vegas shooting, but there hasn’t been significant further action by the White House on that front.

Trump’s only action on guns as president undid restrictions aimed at mental illness by signing a measure that nixed a regulation that required the Social Security Administration to disclose information quarterly to the national gun background check system about certain people with mental illness. It’s unclear whether that measure would have helped prevent last week’s massacre.

A pro-gun candidate

Though Trump ran as an anti-gun control candidate in 2016, before he was a political figure he backed a ban on assault weapons and a longer waiting period for people to buy a weapon.

“I generally oppose gun control, but I support the ban on assault weapons and I support a slightly longer waiting period to purchase a gun,” he wrote in his 2000 book, “The America We Deserve.” “With today’s Internet technology, we should be able to tell within 72 hours if a potential gun owner has a record.”

Trump, who said at a 2016 debate that he no longer supported an assault-weapons ban, made gun rights a centerpiece of his campaign.

“The Second Amendment is on the ballot in November,” he said at an NRA gathering during the 2016 campaign. “The only way to save our Second Amendment is to vote for a person that you all know named Donald Trump.”