After El Paso shooting, Trump pushed again on gun control. His aides talked him out of it. & More Trending News


One of probably the most extraordinary moments of Donald J. Trump’s presidency was an hourlong assembly with U.S. senators within the aftermath of the college taking pictures in Parkland, Fla., by which he forcefully argued for a litany of gun security measures that the National Rifle Association had lengthy opposed.

Mr. Trump’s assist for gun management measures — which he unrolled on dwell tv from the White House on Feb. 28, 2018 — astonished lawmakers from each events. But the subsequent day, N.R.A. officers met with Mr. Trump with none cameras or reporters within the room, and he instantly backed down.

That obvious give up to N.R.A. strain got here to sum up Mr. Trump’s file on gun management within the eyes of his critics.

Unbeknownst to the general public, nonetheless, Mr. Trump again pushed contained in the White House for vital new gun-control measures greater than a 12 months later, after a pair of grotesque taking pictures sprees that unfolded over 13 hours. Those discussions haven’t beforehand been reported.

On Aug. 3, 2019, a far-right gunman killed 23 individuals at a Walmart retailer in El Paso. Early the subsequent morning, a person shot and killed 9 individuals outdoors a bar in Dayton, Ohio. Both assailants used semiautomatic rifles.

At the White House the subsequent day, Mr. Trump was so shaken by the weekend’s violence that he questioned aides a couple of particular potential resolution and made clear he wished to take motion, in keeping with three individuals current through the dialog.

“What are we going to do about assault rifles?” Mr. Trump requested.

“Not a damn thing,” Mick Mulvaney, his performing chief of employees, replied.

“Why?” Trump demanded.

“Because,” Mr. Mulvaney informed him, “you would lose.”

Mr. Trump by no means pursued an assault weapons ban, although he had known as for one in his 2000 guide, “The America We Deserve” — by which he additionally criticized Republicans for opposing even restricted gun restrictions.

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Mr. Trump was scheduled to face the N.R.A. again on Friday in Houston, the place he’ll tackle the gun group’s annual convention. The occasion is happening days after a gunman killed 19 kids and two adults at an elementary college in Uvalde, Texas.

“America needs real solutions and real leadership in this moment, not politicians and partisanship,” Mr. Trump stated in a social media put up this week after the college bloodbath, explaining his choice to talk on the occasion.

Other scheduled audio system, together with Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas, have opted to skip the assembly.

Mr. Trump’s repeated curiosity in pushing for gun management as president flew within the face of his public picture as an absolutist on Second Amendment points who fiercely guarded his standing with the N.R.A.

On the marketing campaign path in 2016, he promised to abolish gun-free colleges on his first day in workplace and claimed that he generally carried a hid weapon. “I feel much better being armed,” he stated on CBS’s “Face the Nation” through the Republican major.

Seeking re-election in 2020, Mr. Trump informed voters that he had “saved the Second Amendment.”

But the truth was extra sophisticated.

After each the Florida college taking pictures at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018 and again in the summertime of 2019, Mr. Trump publicly pushed for extra background checks earlier than gun purchases and talked about elevating the age requirement to purchase weapons to 21 from 18.

The gunman who carried out the Uvalde bloodbath was 18, as was the person accused of killing 10 Black individuals at a grocery store in Buffalo on May 14.

“We have tremendous support for really common-sense, sensible, important background checks,” Mr. Trump informed reporters in August 2019.

Mr. Trump entered workplace in 2017 largely unencumbered by his occasion’s orthodoxy, or by any specific political ideology, relying principally on his personal instincts. He carried no scars from the battlefield of mental conservatism, the place debates over the advantage of supply-side tax cuts, health-care coverage and gun rights had formed a era of Republicans.

He’d been a registered Democrat and a Republican and donated a whole lot of hundreds of {dollars} to candidates in each events. For points past commerce and immigration, Mr. Trump’s preliminary response was usually to facet with public opinion polls and assist concepts that no different current Republican president would have thought of.

That usually occurred on gun points. And it usually fell to Mr. Trump’s aides within the administration, together with Vice President Mike Pence, to tug him again into positions the place Republicans had been most snug.

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According to individuals accustomed to the conversations, Mr. Pence was notably influential in talking with Mr. Trump after the shootings in 2018 and 2019.

“He has those Democrat talking points in his head,” one White House coverage adviser stated of Mr. Trump, “because he lived in New York forever.”

On Second Amendment points, Mr. Trump’s staff usually wore him down by burying him within the technical particulars of gun coverage.

Indeed, within the August 2019 dialog, when Mr. Trump recommended he wished to discover a method to ban assault weapons, Mr. Mulvaney requested how he outlined them, in keeping with the individuals within the room. Commonly, the time period refers to a category of weapons together with the AR-15 semiautomatic rifles commonly utilized in mass shootings.

“Well, it’s the military weapons,” Mr. Trump responded.

Legally, AR-15s are civilian variations of a navy weapon that has been closely regulated because the Nineteen Thirties.

“Mr. President,” Mr. Mulvaney shot again, “military assault weapons are already against the law.”

The president deserted the thought.

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