Graham: Trump wants to expand background checks for firearms

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

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamDemocratic group plans mobile billboard targeting Collins on impeachment Paul predicts no Republicans will vote to convict Trump Roberts sworn in to preside over Trump impeachment trial MORE (R-S.C.) said President TrumpDonald John TrumpLev Parnas implicates Rick Perry, says Giuliani had him pressure Ukraine to announce Biden probe Saudi Arabia paid 0 million for cost of US troops in area Parnas claims ex-Trump attorney visited him in jail, asked him to sacrifice himself for president 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 MurphyDemocrats request briefing on intel behind Trump's embassy threat claim US citizen dies in Egyptian prison after hunger strike President Trump's strike of choice 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 ThuneSenate to vote on Trump's Canada, Mexico trade deal Thursday Senate braces for Trump impeachment trial Republicans face internal brawl over impeachment witnesses 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) ManchinTrump's trial a major test for McConnell, Schumer Poll: West Virginia voters would view Manchin negatively if he votes to convict Trump Pelosi set to send impeachment articles to the Senate next week 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.