WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is expected to reveal next week what gun legislation, if anything, he supports, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday, and that will determine which bills he will bring to the Senate floor for consideration.
In a radio interview, McConnell once again put the onus on Trump for identifying gun bills he'd back following three deadly mass shootings in the past month, amid demands by Democrats and the public for enactment of universal background checks, red-flag laws and even assault weapon bans.
“We’re in a discussion about what to do on the gun issue in the wake of these horrendous shootings,” McConnell told radio show host Hugh Hewitt.
“And the administration is in the process of studying what they are prepared to support, if anything. And I expect to get an answer to that next week,” he said. “If the President is in favor of a number of things that he has discussed openly and publicly, and I know that if we pass it, it’ll become law, I’ll put it on the floor.”
Trump, who initially spoke in favor of expanded background checks after the weekend shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, that left 32 dead, now appears to have cooled on that idea, despite the mass shooting that killed seven on Saturday in Odessa and Midland, Texas.
The Democratic majority in the House approved two bills that would expand background checks to most firearm transactions and would lengthen the time from three to 10 days for the FBI to conduct background checks.
Democrats have urged the Senate to pass those two bills, but McConnell hasn't brought them to the Senate floor for consideration.
Trump also said he supports "red-flag laws," or extreme-risk protective orders, which create a process to get a court order to remove guns from people deemed to be dangerous. New York's red-flag law just went into effect.
“Well, we're looking at a lot of different things. We're looking at a lot of different bills, ideas, concepts. It's been going on for a long while. Background checks,” Trump told reporters Sunday upon his return to the White House on Marine One.
“I will say that, for the most part, sadly, if you look at the last four or five — going back, even five or six or seven years — for the most part, as strong as you make your background checks, they would not have stopped any of it,” he said.
“So it's a big problem. It's a mental problem,” he said.
Trump added the administration is consulting with both parties in Congress and others, including National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre, on a package of gun legislation. “I think you're going to see some interesting things coming along,” Trump said.
After the El Paso and Dayton mass shootings, McConnell asked the chairmen of the Senate’s Judiciary, Commerce and Health Education Labor and Pensions committees to work on legislation to deal with mass shootings.
California's Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Judiciary Democrat, issued a statement Tuesday urging the president and the Senate to act on gun legislation when it returns to work next week.
“There are bills ready to go that will reduce these deadly shootings,” she said. “Bills strengthening universal background checks, banning high-capacity magazines, putting in place extreme risk prevention order laws, raising the age to buy assault rifles and prohibiting the manufacture and importation of assault weapons.”
She added, “President Trump and Senate Republicans need to stand up to the NRA and say it’s time to take action, it’s time to save lives.”
The House Judiciary Committee had planned to debate and amend gun-control bills on Wednesday, but canceled the meeting because of Hurricane Dorian’s trajectory toward Florida and along the East Coast. The working session will be held next week instead.
The committee will consider a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines, a federal process for “extreme-risk orders” to remove guns from people deemed dangerous, grants to states to create extreme-risk order laws, and barring gun sales to people convicted of hate crimes.