The Slatest

Trump Says Background Checks Wouldn’t Have Prevented Recent Mass Shootings

President Donald Trump speaks to the press upon arrival at the White House in Washington, D.C. on September 1, 2019 after spending the weekend at the Camp David presidential retreat.
President Donald Trump speaks to the press upon arrival at the White House in Washington, D.C. on September 1, 2019 after spending the weekend at the Camp David presidential retreat.
NICHOLAS KAMM/Getty Images

President Donald Trump didn’t sound optimistic that stronger gun control could prevent mass shootings, claiming that background checks on those buying weapons wouldn’t have prevented mass shootings over the past few years. “Background checks—I will say that for the most part, sadly, if you look at the last four or five, going back even five or six or seven years—for the most part, as strong as you make your background checks, they would not have stopped any of it,” Trump said. “So it’s a big problem.”

The remarks appear to cement Trump’s newly found opposition to an idea that he once seemed to at least be willing to entertain. After the shootings in El Paso and Dayton last month, Trump said he would consider “meaningful background checks.” Trump later seemed to have a change of heart after lobbying from gun rights advocated. “People don’t realize we have very strong background checks right now,” he said a few days later.

On Sunday, the president proceeded to say that “it’s a mental problem” once again pushing the message that the problem isn’t the easy availability of weapons. Along those lines, Trump called the shooter who killed seven people in West Texas on Saturday “another very sick person.”

Speaking to reporters at the White House after returning to Washington from Camp David, Trump said that the shooting that took place in Texas on Saturday and killed seven people “really hasn’t changed anything” about the current debate over gun control legislation. “We are in the process of dealing with Democrats and Republicans, and there’s a big package of things that’s going to be put before them by a lot of different people I’ve been speaking to a lot of senators, a lot of house members, Republicans, Democrats — this really hasn’t changed anything, we’re doing a package and we’ll see how it comes about,” Trump said. “That’s irrespective of what happened yesterday in Texas.”

It isn’t clear exactly what Trump is referring to when he talked about the “big package of things.” But Republican Sen. Pat Toomey from Pennsylvania said he has discussed the issue with Trump and the president is “very interested in doing something meaningful” on the issue. “I’m not sure where this all ends,” Toomey told ABC’s This Week. “But the president is very interested, I remain very interested in measures that would make it harder for people who shouldn’t have guns to get guns.”