Gun control advocates and Democratic lawmakers are keeping the pressure on President TrumpDonald TrumpGraham says he hopes that Trump runs again Trump says Stacey Abrams 'might be better than existing governor' Kemp Executive privilege fight poses hurdles for Trump MORE and Republicans to act on gun reform even as other controversies threaten to consume the spotlight nearly three weeks after a school shooting that left 17 people dead in South Florida.
On Sunday, both Republicans and Democrats indicated the onus is on Trump to lead the way on gun regulation reform — and suggested signs of optimism in the debate if the president takes a firm position.
But amid ongoing intense discussions on the issue, Republican Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham says he hopes that Trump runs again Trump pushes back on book claims, says he spent 'virtually no time' discussing election with Lee, Graham The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden meets with lawmakers amid domestic agenda panic MORE (S.C.) on Sunday expressed a lack of clarity on where the president stands.
“Propose something, Mr. President. And I think Republicans have an obligation to work with Democrats to make it law if we can,” Graham said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
With midterms looming this year, Graham said that both parties would suffer if Congress does not take up some sort of gun legislation.
Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyCongress facing shutdown, debt crisis with no plan B Senators slow Biden with holds at Pentagon, State Tell our troops: 'Your sacrifice wasn't in vain' MORE (D-Conn.) echoed his point during a separate interview with ABC’s “This Week,” suggesting to host George Stephanopoulos that a failure to act on gun reform could hurt the GOP in the upcoming elections.
“If [President Trump] and Republicans don’t start showing some moving in the wake of Parkland, there aren’t going to be as many Republicans around for him come 2019,” Murphy said.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) praised advocates pushing for stricter gun legislation and expressed optimism that there will be progress despite a Congress that has been slow to action.
“What I tried to do out here was to bring those who are very strongly pro-gun with those who, they believe in the Second Amendment, but think there ought to be limits, and come up with a package that we think could pass,” Kasich told Jake Tapper of his state.
“It's not enough to just say something. You want to pass something. So, I'm optimistic we will.”
The discussions continue, with a number of options on the table after Trump hosted a group of bipartisan lawmakers last week for a televised meeting about guns. There, the president expressed support for several Democrat-supported reforms, including raising the minimum age requirement to purchase weapons like the AR-15 to 21.
But while Trump demonstrated a diplomatic tone in the meeting, skeptics were quick to point out that the president took a similar approach to immigration negotiations, which have yet to reach a bipartisan solution.
Appearing on a panel for ABC, progressive commentator Van Jones said Trump could easily change his mind on the gun issue later down the road, suggesting the administration holds a vacillating position.
“Because nobody believes a word [Trump] says anyway. Everybody knows it, in 15 seconds it could be something totally different,” Jones said.
“That is more dangerous than any of these policy positions or personnel decisions, you now have a president of the United States who literally can say anything and nobody on planet Earth believes him.”
Murphy, who has for years has advocated for stricter gun laws, said the president is “trying to have it both ways” on guns, as Trump courts both gun control advocates and the National Rifle Association (NRA).
But Murphy also said he thinks Trump is aware of the issue's importance to voters.
“I think he knows that the mood of the country has shifted such that he and his party are going to pay a huge price at the polls in 2018 and 2020 if they don’t start supporting things like universal background checks,” Murphy said during the ABC interview.
But the gun reform push puts the president up against one of his most loyal supporters during the 2016 campaign: the NRA, which has shown no signs of altering any of its positions following the Parkland, Fla., school shooting on Feb. 14.
Still, the advocates have refused to back down and remain in the public spotlight, with growing support from the corporate sector. Multiple major retailers in the past few weeks have announced new restrictions on firearm sales, and several companies have cut ties with the NRA.
The high school survivors of the shooting have also emerged as outspoken backers of stricter gun laws.
“And the more they push, the better chance we have of getting something done to have greater gun safety and better protection for everybody in our country,” Kasich said Sunday of the young people pushing for reforms.