President Donald Trump tweeted a new gun policy stance Tuesday night, calling on both parties to strengthen background checks.
Whether we are Republican or Democrat, we must now focus on strengthening Background Checks!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 21, 2018
The tweet lacked specifics (and was weirdly threaded with an unrelated rant against the media about coverage of an “anti-Trump Russia rally”), but it marks a potential opening in the debate over gun control that has intensified in the wake of the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, last week that killed 17.
Trump’s tweets aren’t always followed up with a willingness to actually push for new policies in Congress. But this latest tweet is one of the first real signs that Trump could be willing to consider such legislation.
Trump’s first speech about the Parkland shooting, delivered the day after the high school massacre, barely mentioned guns. In a weekend tweetstorm, he also blamed Democrats for failing to enact gun control when they had control of the House and Senate during President Obama’s first term. But earlier this week, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders indicated the president was open to bipartisan legislation to strengthen background checks.
Bipartisan background check legislation has been stalled in the Senate. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced the Fix NICS Act in the Senate after the mass shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, last year, where the Air Force failed to alert federal authorities about the gunman’s violent past, which allowed him to purchase firearms. The bill strengthens the laws already on the books and gives states a financial incentive to report crimes to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
“The President spoke to Senator Cornyn on Friday about the bipartisan bill he and Sen. Murphy introduced to improve Federal Compliance with Criminal Background check Legislation,” Sanders said in a statement. “While discussions are ongoing and revisions are being considered, the President is supportive of efforts to improve the Federal background check system.”