Trump Signals Backing for Gun Background Check Fixes

Responding to the outcry over the Florida school massacre, the White House says the president will back some version of a bipartisan bill introduced in November aimed at improving the federal system to conduct background checks of gun buyers.

President Trump will back improving the federal background check system, The Hill reports. A White House statement said that Trump had spoken to Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) about a bill he and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) had introduced on background checks.

Trump didn’t endorse the bill per se—the White House said “revisions are being considered.” The bill, introduced last November after the mass shooting at a Texas church, would require states and agencies to produce plans for sending records to the National Instant Background Check System (NICS) that would show if an individual is prohibited from buying a gun and verifying that the information is accurate.

The measure would incentivize agencies and states to provide information by blocking bonus pay for political appointees in agencies that fail to upload records to the background check system and rewarding states that follow their implementation plans.

“For years agencies and states haven’t complied with the law, failing to upload these critical records without consequence. … This bill aims to help fix what’s become a nationwide, systemic problem so we can better prevent criminals and domestic abusers from obtaining firearms,” Cornyn said at the time.

Murphy said the bill “marks an important milestone that shows real compromise can be made on the issue of guns.” The bill had bipartisan support, including from Republican Sens. Orrin Hatch of Utah and Dean Heller of Nevada, and Democrats Danne Feinstein of California and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire.

The bill would attempt to improve a background check system that has been criticized for years. Its approval would not satisfy gun control advocates, who believe that Congress should act on assault weapon restrictions and other issues that are opposed by the National Rifle Association and many Republicans.