After the horrific mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, actual progress on gun legislation seems unusually close amid a groundswell of public anger and an NRA crippled by internal fighting and financial problems.
But even now, Senate Republicans aren't ready to cave to public pressure. There are signs that they might be open to seriously debating expanded background checks and "red flag" laws — but according to The Daily Beast, they are waiting to see whether President Donald Trump will give them permission.
"Many Hill Republicans are waiting to see what Trump will get behind,” one Republican Senate aide told The Daily Beast. "He gives them political cover. I don’t think you're going to see any one bill or one proposal get any momentum until the President publicly endorses it."
Trump, who supported gun control decades ago before he fell in with the GOP, has previously suggested he would be open to various gun restrictions in the immediate aftermath of mass shootings like Parkland, only to change his mind after intense NRA pressure. Now, however, he is reportedly rethinking his loyalty to the gun rights group because he doubts they have the money to run ads against him.
While Trump's pro-gun loyalty may be conditional, however, it remains to be seen whether the Republican Party as a whole would really be willing to shift its attitude on the matter. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has refused to call back the Senate from recess to debate the issue, a sign he may be trying to simply ride out public anger and drop the issue once people lose focus.