White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders disclosed in a statement that the President had spoken with No. 2 Senate Republican John Cornyn on Friday about legislation Cornyn introduced last year. The senator has proposed expediting updates of the criminal databases used in instant background checks, as well as penalizing federal workers who fail to update these databases regularly.
Secretary Sanders said:
While discussions are ongoing and revisions are being considered, the president is supportive of efforts to improve the federal background check system.
Following the outcry from Americans in response to the most recent school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the president took to Twitter, directing blame at everyone from the FBI and its investigation of Russian election interference to Democrats to lack of mental health awareness to survivors of the shooting themselves. Yet Trump has made little mention of gun control—until today. While the White House did not endorse the legislation, their willingness to consider a revamp of the current background check system is a sudden reversal.
To be clear, Trump isn't exactly going out on a limb.
Senator John Cornyn, who introduced the legislation in November of last year with seven other senators (including three other republicans), has a widely pro-gun voting record and voted against limits on high-capacity magazines and lawsuits against gun manufacturers for gun violence. He holds an NRA "A" rating.
The NRA itself has backed the Cornyn's proposed legislation.
Trump last year rolled back an Obama-era regulation making it more difficult for those with documented mental health issues to obtain guns.
Many people are understandably skeptical of this new position:
So why has Cornyn voted against stronger background checks in the recent past?! I guess he is all of the sudden growing a conscience!!! Or maybe it is because he just wants to be re-elected!!! Too little; too late Cornyn!!!— J S Hern (@StoweHerndon) February 19, 2018
While gun control advocates consider the legislation an important first step, the bill is hardly revolutionary:
Piecemeal regulation is not enough. Only comprehensive gun reform will do. The children at Parkland are right to be livid against #NRABloodMoney Support their #MarchForOurLives event on March 24. Sign up at https://t.co/Hw09Eclid3. Tweet or retweet their website to help.— Ralph D. Davis (@ralphddavis) February 19, 2018
Not enough. I can’t imagine a country that would think that is significant. We need to eliminate assault weapons. The only purpose they have is to enable mass murders.— Gary owen (@Myday2) February 19, 2018
The nation waits to see if this is an attempt to assuage the recent surge of activism from soon-to-be-voters emerging in the shooting's aftermath, or if this might just lead to the first major move toward bipartisan gun control reform in recent history. However, as being an American in the 21st century has repeatedly shown, we don't have much time before a mass shooting takes the lives of even more citizens. The country can't afford to wait.