CHARLESTON, W.Va. — U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., wants President Donald Trump to reconsider legislation to strengthen the national background check system for purchasing firearms.
Manchin and Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey spoke to the president on Monday about the proposal, which would expand background checks to online sales and gun shows.
“This morning, we both separately discussed with President Trump our support for passing our bipartisan legislation to strengthen background checks to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, the dangerously mentally ill, and terrorists while respecting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners and all Americans,” the senators said in a joint statement.
“The president showed a willingness to work with us on the issue of strengthening background checks.”
Manchin and Toomey introduced the legislation following the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. The Senate failed to pass the measure, as only 54 lawmakers voted for the bill.
The senators’ newest call follows two mass shootings over the weekend; 22 people have died in connection with the shooting Saturday in El Paso, while nine people died in an early Sunday morning shooting in Dayton, Ohio.
“Mass shootings and violent gun crimes are tragic American problems. It is past time for Congress to take action and the Manchin-Toomey background check legislation represents an opportunity to make actual bipartisan progress to help keep Americans safe,” Manchin and Toomey also said.
Manchin and Toomey took part in a roundtable with Trump and other lawmakers last year following the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida; they also urged changes to the national background check system.
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., did not issue a similar call when reached by MetroNews, but noted lawmakers should act in prevent future mass shootings.
“The details coming from Texas and Ohio have been horrifying and heartbreaking. There is absolutely no place in America — or anywhere — for this kind of hate, bigotry, and racism,” she said. “Charlie and I are continuing to pray for comfort for all the families affected. There are steps we can take to address this kind of violence, and it’s important that we seriously address these issues — particularly regarding reforms to improve our mental health system, identify threats and help make our communities safer.”
The president tweeted Monday morning he would consider backing changes to the background checks system, noting the legislation could come with “desperately needed” immigration legislation. He also blamed “fake news,” alleging the media has “contributed greatly to the anger and rage that has built up over many years.”
Trump also addressed both shootings from the White House; in regards to the El Paso suspect’s anti-immigration diatribe, the president said the nation must “condemn racism, bigotry, and white supremacy.”
Trump did not delve into possible policy, instead pointing to the internet, video games and current mental health laws as problems.
“Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun,” he said at one point.
Trump also directed the Department of Justice to consider the death penalty for people found guilty of violent hate crimes and mass shootings.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., urged Senate Majority Leader Mith McConnell, R-Ky., to allow the Senate to consider legislation to create new background check requirements for unlicensed people. The House of Representatives in February approved such changes.
“The public must weigh in and demand passage of this legislation for the safety of our children,” they said in a press release.
For his part, McConnell on Monday asked Republican leaders in the Senate to begin “bipartisan discussions” on possible legislative solutions.