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Senators eye gun background checks progress after 40-minute phone call with Trump

2019-09-11

A bipartisan group of moderate senators is making a new push for gun background checks after an upbeat phone conversation with President Trump on Wednesday.

The group, including Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), say they are optimistic about reaching a deal with Trump that would revive their bill that died after the Sandy Hook school massacre in 2012.

The bill closes the so-called gun show loophole and other ways for gun buyers to avoid background checks.

"Our best chance of success would be to broaden background checks to include commercial gun sales," such as those conducted over the internet and at gun shows, Toomey said.

Those largely unregulated gun sales let “violent criminals and those dangerously mentally ill ... easily obtain firearms,” Toomey added.

Manchin said he hoped to hear back from Trump by Thursday about the proposal.

Trump also spoke positively about progress on guns at a Wednesday news conference but was characteristically vague about specifics. He said any new restrictions would have to respect the “great Second Amendment,” a euphemism for approval by gun-rights advocates like the National Rifle Association.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has blocked consideration of a bill passed by the House of Representatives that would require background checks for virtually all gun purchases among other restrictions.

Both Trump and McConnell have promised to consider new gun rules following the mass shootings last month in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.

But they have waffled on actual restrictions and said renewing the assault weapons ban is off the table.

Trump also has told leaders of the NRA that he will not agree to significant new gun restrictions, which would enrage a significant portion of his right-wing base.