Trump blames O'Rourke for making it 'much harder' to reach deal on guns

President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP congressman slams Trump over report that U.S. bombed former anti-ISIS coalition headquarters US to restore 'targeted assistance' to Central American countries after migration deal Trump says lawmakers should censure Schiff MORE is blaming Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke for making it “much harder” for him to reach a bipartisan deal with Democrats on gun control legislation in the wake of a string of mass shootings.

Trump tweeted early Wednesday that the former Texas congressman, whom he labeled “dummy Beto,” had “convinced many” that Democrats want to take people’s guns away. The tweet came after O’Rourke, whose home state witnessed recent shootings in El Paso and Odessa, proposed a mandatory buyback for assault weapons.

“Dummy Beto made it much harder to make a deal. Convinced many that Dems just want to take your guns away,” Trump tweeted Wednesday, adding, however, “Will continue forward!”

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Trump has been engaging with lawmakers on potential gun legislation in the wake of the shootings, but hopes have dimmed on the prospect of a bipartisan deal that would expand background checks.

In the wake of August shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, Trump signaled support for expanding background checks and expressed optimism that Republicans would get on board.

But he has since appeared to waffle on his stance, casting gun violence as primarily a mental health issue and warning of the “slippery slope” — a popular talking point of the National Rifle Association — of enacting gun control measures. He has also said that the United States already has strong background checks and that he wants to focus on filling the gaps.

Trump told reporters at the White House on Thursday that he thought he would support strengthening background checks but quickly sought to shift the burden to Democrats on any agreements, saying he wouldn’t agree to anything if it were “a ploy to take your guns away.”

“It depends on whether or not the Democrats want to take your guns away — because there's a possibility that this is just a ploy to take your guns away — or whether or not it's meaningful. If it's meaningful, we'll make a deal,” Trump said.

His remarks came shortly before O’Rourke reinforced his support for mandatory gun buybacks for assault weapons at last week's Democratic presidential debate, telling the crowd, “Hell yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47.”

Trump, who is currently fundraising for his reelection in California, is expected to announce a proposal to address gun violence likely sometime this week, though the timing is unclear.