Republicans inclined to impose gun background checks

Yet, Trump and Senate leaders claim that the debate can wait until the end of legislators's summer break

Photo: Reuters Gun enthusiasts inspect rifles displayed at the MagPul booth during the annual National Rifle Association (NRA) convention

The United States' President Donald Trump said Friday that fellow Republicans will set aside resistance to restricting access to firearms by supporting background checks for people buying weapons in the wake of mass shootings in Ohio and Texas.

The progress in efforts to curb the United States' freewheeling relationship with firearms came despite talks between Trump and the head of the fierce NRA gun lobby, Wayne LaPierre.

Republicans have long resisted imposing background checks on gun buyers, a measure that the powerful NRA argues would be the thin end of the wedge, leading to ever tighter restrictions on the constitutional right to carrying weapons. But after 31 people were shot dead in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, last weekend - just the latest in an ever growing list of bloodbaths carried out by men with powerful rifles - political momentum has apparently shifted.

Trump said that Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was "totally onboard" with background checks. Even "hardline" gun rights supporters in the Republican party "understand we don't want insane people, mentally ill people, bad people, dangerous people" buying firearms, Trump told reporters at the White House.

He said he'd spoken with LaPierre and had "a good talk." Yet, despite his claims, LaPierre said he had rejected calls for tougher restrictions on firearms, indicating he'd raised those concerns with Trump.

"The inconvenient truth is this: the proposals being discussed by many would not have prevented the horrific tragedies in El Paso and Dayton," LaPierre said in a statement.

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged Trump to bring the Senate into session to debate gun control legislation previously approved by House Democratic lawmakers, including a bill passed in February mandating federal criminal background checks. But despite the apparent shift in White House and Republican positions on the issue, Trump and Senate leaders said there's no need to call legislators back from their summer break.

"I think we'll have a very good package by the time they come back," Trump said.

Trump and the Republicans also seem certain to oppose Democrats' call for banning assault weapons - the military style rifles commonly used in mass killings. According to gun lobbyists the rifles like the AR-15 are hugely popular, legitimate weapons for hunting and self-defence.

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