Trump says 'serious discussions' underway on background checks

President TrumpDonald TrumpHillicon Valley — State Dept. employees targets of spyware Ohio Republican Party meeting ends abruptly over anti-DeWine protesters Jan. 6 panel faces new test as first witness pleads the Fifth MORE on Friday said that "serious discussions" over background checks for gun purchases are taking place between Democratic and Republican leaders of Congress after a pair of mass shootings last weekend thrust gun violence back into the national conversation.

In a pair of tweets, the president said that mentally ill and "deranged" people should not have access to firearms, while conceding that he had spoken with the National Rifle Association (NRA) on the issue and vowing that the group's views would be "fully represented" in the discussions.

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"Serious discussions are taking place between House and Senate leadership on meaningful Background Checks. I have also been speaking to the NRA, and others, so that their very strong views can be fully represented and respected," Trump tweeted.

"Guns should not be placed in the hands of mentally ill or deranged people," the president continued in a second tweet. "I am the biggest Second Amendment person there is, but we all must work together for the good and safety of our Country. Common sense things can be done that are good for everyone!"

 

His remarks come days after he visited Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, the sites of two mass shootings last weekend that left more than 30 dead and dozens injured. The president and first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpBidens to attend Kennedy Center Honors following Trumps' absence The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden's message on the 'omicron' variant Jill Biden unveils traditional White House holiday décor MORE visited with victims of the shootings at hospitals in the two states Thursday before returning to Washington last night.

Trump has expressed support for "red flag" laws that would allow law enforcement to legally confiscate guns from dangerous individuals and has said he's "all in favor" of background checks.

But the NRA has rejected both measures, and Trump has previously walked back his support for tougher gun laws amid opposition from the gun-rights group, making it unclear whether he will continue to back the legislation in the wake of the latest mass shootings.

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPhotos of the Week: Schumer, ASU protest and sea turtles Hospitals in underserved communities face huge cuts in reckless 'Build Back Better' plan GOP infighting takes stupid to a whole new level MORE (D-Calif.) on Thursday urged the president to call back the Senate to discuss the issue, while faulting Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellUS could default within weeks absent action on debt limit: analysis The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Congress avoids shutdown Senate dodges initial December crisis with last-minute deal MORE (R-Ky.) for not voting on House-passed background check legislation.

McConnell indicated Thursday that he will not bring the Senate back early from its five-week August recess to debate gun legislation, despite the pressure from Democrats.

"Mr. President, we have an opportunity to work in a bipartisan way to pass gun violence prevention background checks," Pelosi wrote in a letter to Trump. "However, Leader Mitch McConnell, describing himself as the 'grim reaper,' has been an obstacle to taking any action."

The El Paso shooting, as well as another shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival last week in California, are suspected to have been carried out by gunmen who espoused white supremacist and racist anti-immigrant rhetoric, which Democrats have blamed on the president's own rhetoric on immigration.

Brett Samuels contributed.