President Trump says he will be working with Congress on legislation to address mass shootings in the US, starting with background checks and mental illness.
"I'm looking to do background checks. I think background checks are important," Trump said.
“I don’t want to put guns into the hands of… people with rage or hate,” the President went on. “We’ve made a lot of headway in the last three days,” he added.
Some context: Despite this claim, Trump has threatened a veto on a House-passed background checks bill that hasn't been taken up in the Senate. And he has previously voiced support for background checks — including during a freewheeling meeting with lawmakers in the Cabinet Room following the Parkland, Florida, shooting — only to back down.
And there is little to indicate Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who singularly holds power to take up legislation in the Senate, is willing to bring a background checks bill to the floor.
Trump also emphasized mental health, an issue that has appeared more appealing to Republicans.
“It’s a mental problem, and we’re going to be meeting with members of Congress,” President Trump said.
He added that he already has meetings scheduled, and the White House is dealing with leadership now.
“You have two sides that are very different on this issue,” Trump said. He said that he thinks the legislation will be “beyond anything that’s been done so far.”
But don’t expect that legislation to include a ban on assault rifles: “You have to have a political appetite in Congress, and so far, I have not seen that,” Trump said of a ban on assault weapons. “Making sure that mentally unstable, seriously ill people aren’t carrying guns… I’ve never seen the appetite as strong as it is now. I have not seen it with certain types of weapons.”
He said that he would “still bring it up,” and that he will be “convincing some people do things they don’t want to do, and that means people in Congress,” but he wouldn’t answer when asked if he personally supports a ban on assault rifles or weapons of war.
“I have a lot of influence with a lot of people, and I want to convince them to do the right thing,” he said.