White House Signals Support for Strengthening Background Check System for Gun Purchases


The White House has signaled President Trump’s openness to strengthening federal background checks in the wake of the deadly school shooting in Parkland, FL, this week.  “While discussions are ongoing and revisions are being considered, the president is supportive of efforts to improve the Federal background check system,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said today.

Sanders revealed that President Trump spoke with Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas on Friday about a bill he introduced in the Senate last year.  The bill is designed to make the National Instant Criminal Background Check System function more effectively, although it does not necessarily expand its reach.  The FixNICS Act as it’s known, incentivizes states and federal agencies to do a better job of keeping the background system updated with the latest information about individuals who should be prevented from purchasing firearms.

Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA), a co-sponsor of the bill, in a statement to ITN said that he supports the bill’s passage.  Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), another supporter, called for rapid action on the bill on Twitter this morning.  “Our #FixNICS bill would close information gaps in the background check database – helping keep guns away from dangerous buyers. Bipartisan support, now Trump support, overwhelming popular support – no excuse for continued delay,” Blumenthal wrote.

A version of FixNICS passed in the House last year but included measures that would require all fifty states to honor concealed handgun permits, calling into question the bill’s viability in the Senate.  Similarly, the Senate version faces steep odds in the House because of the lack such a “reciprocity” measure.

Still, the President’s support did cause some Democrats to feel optimistic about the bill’s passage this go-round. “Trump’s support for the FixNICS Act, my bill with @JohnCornyn, is another sign the politics of gun violence are shifting rapidly,” Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) wrote on Twitter today.


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