Graham: Trump wants to expand background checks for firearms

Graham: Trump wants to expand background checks for firearms
© Aaron Schwartz

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamWe've lost sight of the real scandal The Hill's Morning Report - What is Trump's next move on Iran? The Memo: Times correction gives GOP lifeline in latest Kavanaugh controversy MORE (R-S.C.) said President TrumpDonald John TrumpBusiness, ballots and battling opioids: Why the Universal Postal Union benefits the US Sanders supporters cry foul over Working Families endorsement of Warren California poll: Biden, Sanders lead Democratic field; Harris takes fifth MORE is looking for a way to expand background checks for firearms sales, which could lay the groundwork for a bipartisan deal after a string of mass shootings this summer.

Graham, a top ally of Trump's who has lead jurisdiction over gun control measures as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, expressed optimism about a potential measure after spending time with Trump the previous day.

“The White House is working with Sen. Murphy from Connecticut. I talked to Sen. Murphy. We’ve got some bumps but I think we’re getting there in a space where we can expand background checks to cover more commercial transactions,” Graham said of negotiations between Trump and Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyProspects for Trump gun deal grow dimmer This week: House jump-starts effort to prevent shutdown Senators struggle to get spending bills off ground as shutdown looms MORE (Conn.), a leading Democrat on the issue of gun violence.

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“Most people feel like I do, you know, giving a gun to your son or daughter is not going to trigger a federal background check, but we can do other things,” Graham added.

“We’re trying to expand background checks,” he said.

Trump has sent mixed signals on where he is on the issue of expanding background checks for gun sales following mass shootings this summer in Ohio and Texas that killed dozens.

Under current law, sales made through federally licensed firearms dealers are subject to background checks, but not sales between individuals who are not dealers.

Immediately after the mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, early last month, Trump tweeted that “serious discussions” were taking place between Senate and House leaders on “meaningful background checks.”

But early this month the president appeared to back away from strengthening background checks, telling reporters that doing so likely wouldn’t have prevented recent mass shootings.

He instead spoke more generically about “strong measures to keep weapons out of the hands of dangerous and deranged individuals” and reforms to the nation’s mental health system.

In late August, Trump also said the nation already has “very, very strong background checks” for firearms sales.

Senate Republican Whip John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneProspects for Trump gun deal grow dimmer Trump, lawmakers consider app that would conduct background checks: report 'Mike Pounce' trends on Twitter after Trump slip at GOP retreat MORE (S.D.), however, said that Trump is still weighing the option of strengthening background checks and did not rule out legislation sponsored by Sens. Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyNSA improperly collected US phone records in October, new documents show Overnight Defense: Pick for South Korean envoy splits with Trump on nuclear threat | McCain blasts move to suspend Korean military exercises | White House defends Trump salute of North Korean general WH backpedals on Trump's 'due process' remark on guns MORE (R-Pa.) and Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinThe Hill's Morning Report - What is Trump's next move on Iran? Prospects for Trump gun deal grow dimmer The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation MORE (D-W.Va.) at a White House meeting Tuesday afternoon.

“I wouldn’t say that they’re ruling things out. I think they’re trying to figure out what is achievable. So there’s still a lot of discussion about that,” he said.

“They’re looking at a lot of different ideas that individual senators who have bills have proposed or members who don’t have bills but have ideas are proposing and trying to distill that.”

Thune added that the president and his advisers are trying to “figure out if there’s a path forward that would get us a result.”

“There are some ideas out there that, to me, perhaps could actually pass,” he said.