Trump Gives Cornyn Marketing Tip for Gun Bill: Call It the ‘U.S. Background Check Bill,' Not ‘Fix NICS'

WASHINGTON - President Trump gave full-throated support Wednesday to Sen. John Cornyn's bill to beef up federal gun buyer background checks. But at a freewheeling White House meeting on mass shootings and school safety, he gave the Texan tips for marketing the idea better.Rather than calling it the "Fix NICS" bill, a mouthful that refers to the national criminal records database, Trump urged Cornyn to dub it "The US Background Check Bill."The meeting, streamed live from the Cabinet Room, included lawmakers from both parties and strong advocates for gun control and for gun rights. Trump voiced support for a number of priorities, making clear that he wants a multifaceted bill that keeps guns from the "mentally ill" and those with a history of domestic violence, that raises the age for buying an assault style rifle to 21, and also beefs up school security.Trump has used such public sessions before to brainstorm, cajole and showcase on delicate issues and he didn't shy from laying down some markers - for instance, chiding House Majority Whip Steve Scalise for trying to use momentum for a gun bill to deliver an NRA priority, allowing people with a concealed carry permit in any state the right to use that permit in other states."I'm with you but let it be a separate bill. If you add concealed carry to this bill, you'll never get it passed. We want to get something done," Trump said.Cornyn, seated to the president's right, pitched the bill to improve reporting to the federal database used for background checks. The shooter responsible for the massacre at a Sutherland Springs, Texas, church, had a court martial record that should have precluded him from buying the weapons used, but it wasn't reported properly."It's a good place for us to start," Cornyn said, readily conceding that "it's not the be-all, end-all."Not all good ideas will pass, he added, but "e've acquiesced to failure and not done things that we know are within our power, like the Fix NICS bill.... None of us want to look these families in the face in the wake of another mass shooting and say we didn't do everything in our power."The powerful NRA supports the Cornyn idea but as Trump noted, the group opposes many other steps toward gun control, including some that he supports, and he emphasized that he's willing to defy the group."Some of you people are petrified of the NRA. You can't be petrified," Trump said.But on the other side of the issue, Trump ruled out getting rid of gun-free school zones, arguing that would-be shooters can't feel confident that "they're not going to have bullets coming at them from the other direction."Trump has called for encouraging teachers, coaches and other school personnel trained in firearms to carry guns at schools to deter attackers and protect students.Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., noted that she became mayor of San Francisco after an assassination. She expressed disappointed that an assault weapons ban she pushed after the Newtown, Conn., school massacre in 2012 failed."We thought Sandy Hook would be the end," she said. "The killings have gone on. The number of incidents have gone up."Trump vowed to ban bump stocks, the device used last October in a Las Vegas rampage that left nearly 60 concert-goers dead, by allowing continuous fire with a semi-automatic weapon."You won't have to worry about bump stocks. Shortly that'll be gone," Trump said.Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., noted that 97 percent of Americans support universal background checks, closing a loophole that allows sales online and at gun shows to take place without a background check."People want to get it done," Trump responded, though it wasn't entirely clear he meant to endorse that expansion of background checks.He did make clear his view that the mentally ill - "like this guy" who killed 17 at a Parkland, Fla., high school earlier this month - shouldn't be allowed to buy guns and should any guns they own confiscated."I don't want mentally ill people to be having guns," he said.He also expressed dismay that people under 21 can't buy a handgun, but can buy an assault-style rifle of the sort used in the Florida massacre at age 18. Feinstein interjected to ask if he would sign a bill raising the age to 21."I'll tell you what, I'll give it a lot consideration...and I'm the one bringing it up," Trump said. "The NRA is opposed to it.... I'm a big fan of the NRA. They're big patriots... That doesn't mean we have to agree on everything."He noted the political costs. "A lot of people are afraid of that issue, raising the age for that weapon to 21," he said.Trump also warned against going too far in "hardening" schools against armed intruders, raising the specter that if a shooter ever does get inside a heavily fortified school and locks the door behind him, he'd have students trapped with police unable to come to their aid.  Continue reading...

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