WASHINGTON — President Trump pledged Thursday to protect the Second Amendment, hours after huddling with top advisers to discuss gun control measures he might be willing to publicly stand behind.
Speaking to reporters before flying to Baltimore for a Republican retreat, Mr. Trump insisted “a lot of progress” had been made on background checks “and various things having to do with guns” during Thursday’s discussion. But he also made clear that he’s weary of angering gun proponents, suggesting Democrats’ push for new gun control measures following a summer of mass shootings might be nothing more than “a ploy.”
“There’s a possibility that this is just a ploy to take your guns away,” he said.
He added later in Baltimore, “Democrats want to confiscate guns from law-abiding Americans so they’re totally defenseless when somebody walks into their house with a gun.” No Democratic candidates have proposed stripping all guns from Americans, though former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke said during Thursday night’s Democratic debate that he supports a mandatory buyback program for assault-type weapons like the AK-47.
Mr. Trump’s comments came after he was briefed Thursday on a list of potential gun control measures that his aides, members of Congress and Capitol Hill staffers have been discussing and that there appears to be broad internal agreement on. That includes going after fraudulent buyers, taking measures to notify state and local law enforcement when a potential buyer fails a background check, issuing state-level emergency risk protection orders, boosting mental health assistance and expediting executions for those found guilty of committing mass shootings.
While the president has waffled publicly on expanded background checks, he directed his staff to continue to work with lawmakers— including Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Democratic Sens. Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Joe Manchin of West Virginia — to try to hash out an agreement he can support, according to a senior administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss closed-door conversations.
A formal announcement on the president’s plan is expected as soon as next week.
Kellyanne Conway, a counselor to the president, told reporters Thursday morning that the White House’s legislative and policy teams had been working for “seven straight weeks on the possibilities.”
“Things are happening,” she said.