‘I think background checks are important,’ he said Wednesday. ‘I don’t want to put guns into the hands of mentally unstable or people with rage or hate, sick people. I don’t want to. I’m all in favor of it.’
But he said there isn’t a significant enough ‘appetite’ in Congress for action to ban certain types of firearms commonly referred to as ‘assault rifles.’
Federal law currently requires background checks for anyone who buys a firearm from a licensed dealer, but most private sales are exempt.
Rifles like the popular AR-15 and the less common AK-47 are legal to own in the U.S. as long as they are not converted to fire multiple rounds, machine-gun style, with a single press of the trigger.
Reporters pressed the president about new gun control measures as he left the White House Wednesday to visit Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas, where gunmen killed a total of 41 people on Saturday.
‘There’s a great appetite, and I mean a very strong appetite, for background checks,’ he said, describing the mood in Congress, ‘and I think we can bring up background checks like we’ve never had before.’
‘I think both Republicans and Democrats are getting close to a bill, doing something,’ he said.
Trump has framed the latest gun massacres as the result of a mental health crisis, not as a sign that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution has been applied too broadly, allowing too many Americans to own too many guns.
The Amendment requires that ‘the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.’
Conservatives and gun-rights advocates say banning one type of rifle because its design resembles a military weapon would be unfair and arbitrary.
Trump signaled that Congress, especially the Republican-controlled Senate, isn’t prepared to tread that far.
‘You have to have a political appetite within Congress and so far I have not seen that,’ he said.
And in what might be a reference to his power to change federal regulations, he concluded that ‘I can only do what I can do.’
But he did say an appetite exists on Capitol Hill for ‘making sure that mentally unstable, seriously ill people aren’t carrying guns. And I’ve never seen the appetite as strong as it is now.’
But ‘I have not seen’ such a willingness to act ‘with regard to certain types of weapons,’ Trump concluded.