“We need intelligent background checks,” Trump said in brief remarks to reporters as he left the White House for a political fundraiser in Southampton, New York, followed by a vacation at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey. “This isn’t a question of NRA, Republican or Democrat.”
He said there was “tremendous” support for “really common-sense, sensible, important background checks.” He added that he was confident that the gun lobby, which in the past has been effective in resisting such measures, would ultimately agree or “be more neutral.” And he asserted that the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, was “on board.”
But while Trump suggested there was a greater will now for new gun measures than after previous mass shootings, there were no new major signals Friday from the National Rifle Association, the White House or Capitol Hill that action on the politically fraught issue of gun rights was closer to compromise or resolution.
The NRA’s position on new gun safety measures had not changed. The association’s chief executive, Wayne LaPierre, said Thursday that additional background check measures being discussed in Washington “would not have prevented the horrific tragedies in El Paso and Dayton.”
The organization has succeeded in the past in convincing Trump to abandon gun control efforts. Trump on Friday said he had a “great relationship” with the NRA and reaffirmed his support for the Second Amendment.
Trump has not defined what “meaningful” background checks would entail. On Friday, he suggested that a person’s juvenile record, which is typically expunged when he or she turns 18, should be visible to those reviewing a prospective gun buyer’s background.
“I think a lot of really meaningful things on background checks will take place,” Trump said.
On Thursday, McConnell signaled that he would at least be open to considering new legislation on guns, although he did not call the Senate back from its August recess to address the issue immediately. In the past, both Trump and McConnell have opposed measures to expand background checks, including a bill the House passed earlier this year.
McConnell on Thursday said measures the Senate would consider would include so-called red flag laws, which are designed to make it easier for authorities to take firearms from people considered potentially dangerous. Those laws depend on someone — such as a friend or family member — contacting authorities with concerns about someone before they act.
Some 17 states have versions of a red flag law; Texas and Ohio are not among them. Democrats have said that a red flag law alone would not be enough, and new legislation would have to include requiring background checks for all prospective gun purchasers.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.