Politics: After Lobbying by Gun Rights Advocates, Trump Sounds a Familiar Retreat - PressFrom - US

PoliticsAfter Lobbying by Gun Rights Advocates, Trump Sounds a Familiar Retreat

05:30  20 august  2019
05:30  20 august  2019 Source:   nytimes.com

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WASHINGTON — The top lobbyist for the National Rifle Association claimed late Thursday that President Trump had retreated from his surprising support a day earlier for gun control measures after a meeting with N.R.A. officials and Vice President Mike Pence in the Oval Office.

After a made-for-television moment in which he appeared to embrace expansive gun control, President Trump completed his reversal on Monday. The president’s retreat is a stark reminder — if anyone in Washington needed one — that the gun debate remains stuck where it has been for more than a

WASHINGTON — Days after a pair of deadly mass shootings in Texas and Ohio, President Trump said he was prepared to endorse what he described as “very meaningful background checks” that would be possible because of his “greater influence now over the Senate and over the House.”

After Lobbying by Gun Rights Advocates, Trump Sounds a Familiar Retreat© Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times “People don’t realize we have very strong background checks right now,” President Trump told reporters in New Jersey on Sunday.

But after discussions with gun rights advocates during his two-week working vacation in Bedminster, N.J. — including talks with Wayne LaPierre, the chief executive of the National Rifle Association — Mr. Trump’s resolve appears to have substantially softened, and he has reverted to reiterating the conservative positions on the gun issue he has espoused since the 2016 campaign.

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Gun rights advocates say Mr. Trump has delivered in an area where many of them say it matters most: reordering the judiciary by appointing two Supreme Court justices. In its next term, in October, the Supreme Court will take up its first Second Amendment case in nearly a decade when it reviews a

WASHINGTON — President Trump stunned Republicans on live television Wednesday by embracing gun control and urging a group of lawmakers at the White House to resurrect gun safety legislation that has been opposed for years by the powerful National Rifle Association and the vast majority of his party.

Speaking to reporters on Sunday as he departed from New Jersey and returned to Washington, Mr. Trump said he was “very, very concerned with the Second Amendment, more so than most presidents would be,” and added that “people don’t realize we have very strong background checks right now.”

He also echoed the standard response to mass shootings delivered by the N.R.A., which since 1966 has pushed the government to focus on the mental problems of the gunmen rather than how they were able to obtain their guns. “I don’t want people to forget that this is a mental health problem,” Mr. Trump said. “I don’t want them to forget that, because it is. It’s a mental health problem.”

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Gun rights advocates in Congress quickly made clear that they were unlikely to be swayed by Trump ’s decision to jump into the debate. But Sessions said that gun control is “not the greatest issue in the world” and that congressional Republicans shouldn’t take cues from Trump on the subject.

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At a rally in Manchester, N.H., last week, he noted that “it is not the gun that pulls the trigger, it is the person holding the gun,” paraphrasing a decades-old bumper sticker slogan from the gun rights group.

Mr. Trump’s turnaround is the latest example of the president ultimately capitulating to the views of his populist white and working-class political base, and it came after N.R.A. officials flooded the White House, Congress and governors’ offices around the country with phone calls since the back-to-back mass shootings on Aug. 3 and 4.

White House officials insisted that Mr. Trump would shift back again toward supporting more aggressive legislation in the fall, when lawmakers return from their August recess. But they also said Mr. Trump had sounded less aggressive in private over the past week in discussions about possible gun legislation, a change that coincided with the N.R.A. mounting a full-court press.

Trump tells NRA chief that universal background checks are off the table

Trump tells NRA chief that universal background checks are off the table After extensive lobbying by the gun rights group, the president’s interest wanes.

Trump criticized past presidents for not “stepping up” to address gun violence. They did — with varying success. President Bill Clinton signed bills in the 1990s that banned certain semi-automatic weapons and created the background check system for prospective gun buyers.

HOUSTON — Before the election, gun rights activists were so worried Hillary Clinton would win the presidency that some of them bought extra ammunition and guns , fearing a crackdown on certain weapons, bullets and magazines. They’re not worried now.

After Lobbying by Gun Rights Advocates, Trump Sounds a Familiar Retreat© Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times A vigil outside the National Rifle Association headquarters in Fairfax, Va., in response to mass shootings this month. For now, Mr. Trump’s response to the most recent mass shootings, which together resulted in the deaths of 31 people, has followed a pattern similar to the one that played out after the February 2018 mass shooting in Parkland, Fla., where 17 students and staff members were killed at a high school.

After the shooting, Mr. Trump expressed support for universal background checks, keeping guns away from mentally ill people and restricting gun sales for some young adults. But that support quickly evaporated after a late-night Oval Office meeting with N.R.A. officials. Mr. Trump later threatened to veto a background check bill.

“We’ve seen this movie before,” Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, said in a statement. “President Trump, feeling public pressure in the immediate aftermath of a horrible shooting, talks about doing something meaningful to address gun violence, but inevitably, he backtracks in response to pressure from the N.R.A. and the hard right.”

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Hobbled NRA shows strength with Trump The National Rifle Association (NRA) may be down, but it's not out - and the group appears to have been successful in lobbying the most important player in the gun control debate. © The Hill Hobbled NRA shows strength with Trump After saying earlier this month that he wants "very meaningful background checks" on gun purchasers, President Trump has since changed his tune. He argued Tuesday that the U.S. already has "very strong background checks" and that officials need to be wary of a potential "slippery slope" where "everything gets taken away." Democrats attribute that shift, and the language he used, to the work of the NRA.

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Donald Trump attempted to issue a rallying cry to Republicans with a wide-ranging political stump speech at the annual NRA meeting in Dallas on Friday, making clear he would fight November’s midterm elections with a staunch defense of gun rights . “We cannot get complacent,” Trump said.

Mr. Schumer reiterated that the way forward is for the Senate to vote on a bipartisan universal background checks bill already passed by the House.

“I pray that the president will listen to the 90 percent of the American people who support universal background checks,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in her own statement.

A White House spokesman declined to comment on the record, but said Mr. Trump’s latest comments did not constitute a reversal of anything he had said before.

Some aides to Mr. Trump claimed that his comments on Sunday did not signify a change of position and that he was simply engaging in a public negotiation with Mr. Schumer and Ms. Pelosi, to get them to back off their support for a universal background check bill and compromise.

But Mr. Trump has not spoken to Ms. Pelosi or Mr. Schumer since Aug. 8, their aides said, when he told them that he “understood” their interest in moving quickly to pass a universal background check law in the Senate. And his Capitol Hill allies have told Mr. Trump directly that he will need to push hard if he wants to see something done, and that a bipartisan move would require him to engage in extensive arm-twisting of fellow Republicans, the type of legislative politicking he has had a mixed record of success with and interest in during his presidency.

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President Trump hosts state governors at the White House on Monday to lead a discussion on school safety. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images hide caption. Trump started out voicing support for several options that crossed party lines. But lately the bipartisan message has gotten muddled.

But several prominent gun - rights advocates say they aren’t convinced that Trump is one of their own. As evidence, they cite comments he made before “In tone that sounds like improvement, but we’re withholding our endorsement until we get the specifics.” Bob Owens, editor of the website Bearing

One top Republican aide said that unless the president gave lawmakers cover on background checks, it was not clear what could be accomplished.

Democrats, who have watched Mr. Trump play to his base in recent months, with his frequent attacks on four Democratic congresswomen of color, as well as on Representative Elijah E. Cummings, Democrat of Baltimore, said spearheading any significant action on gun legislation now would seem to run counter to his re-election playbook.

Some gun control advocates hoped the calculus would be different for Republicans on Capitol Hill.

“If I were a Republican senator up in 2020, I’d be asking myself three things,” said John Feinblatt, the president of Everytown for Gun Safety, a national group that advocates tougher gun laws. “How many women are in my state who expect me to be voting on gun safety, how many young people are expecting me to do something to protect them, and how bad the dumpster fire is over at N.R.A. headquarters.”

Mr. Feinblatt also noted that he had never seen the N.R.A., which is under investigation by attorneys general in New York and Washington, D.C., and mired in legal battles and internal riffs, seem “weaker.” He said Republicans were “looking at the polls, and certainly looking at the suburbs and balancing that against whether the N.R.A. has any muscle left.”

In private, Mr. Trump has echoed Mr. Feinblatt’s bleak assessment of the N.R.A. But aides have warned him that its members are among his voters, and they may be less attuned to the internal drama at the organization than to its mission statement.

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WASHINGTON ― The nation’s top gun rights advocates were notably quiet this week after Donald Trump proposed more aggressive stop-and-frisk policing with a focus on taking away people’s guns . All that sounds like the kind of initiative that should disturb gun rights advocates .

President Donald Trump 's retreat on gun control wasn't a surprise. Trump acknowledged his changed position on increasing the age at which one can Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is unlikely to devote another week to a contentious issue after last month’s fruitless immigration debate.

Officials at the gun rights group have been looking to show it still has muscle amid a series of stories about its finances and management, and responding to Mr. Trump has given them an opportunity to do that.

Officials at the organization would not directly comment on discussions with the president or his staff. But Andrew Arulanandam, a spokesman for the group, said, “If anyone looks at it from a very logical standpoint, they’ll realize that the sound bite remedy being offered by many just won’t work.”

He said that what was required was “enforcement of laws” and shoring up “our mental health system.”

Behind the scenes, Ivanka Trump, the president’s elder daughter and senior adviser, has been talking to lawmakers like Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, helping out a depleted White House legislative affairs team that has recently had major departures.

Ms. Trump favors passing legislation on background checks, but her involvement on the issue is not welcomed by most Republicans, who privately say the perception of her as a liberal voice in Mr. Trump’s circle will not help them sell more aggressive measures in their states. Ms. Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, departed Bedminster last Thursday, leaving Mr. Trump without one of the voices in his inner circle pushing him on the issue.

Instead, Mr. Trump spoke with gun rights advocates, who flagged for him a weekend shooting in Philadelphia that wounded six police officers as an example of an incident that they said tougher gun measures would not have prevented. The shooting, they said, had more to do with the mental health of the assailant.

At Bedminster, Mr. Trump also spent time with Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who has been pushing for “red flag” laws, which allow guns to be taken from individuals who may be a danger to themselves or others. But such laws are seen by gun control advocates as relatively insignificant measures.

Annie Karni reported from Washington, and Maggie Haberman from New York.

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