The National Rifle Association is in complete turmoil, but embattled chief Wayne LaPierre took time to call President Donald Trump personally after he told the press he was open to stricter background checks, said The Washington Post.
Trump has been afraid of the NRA since the early days of his presidency when he faced a huge backlash from Parkland, Florida students taking to the streets. So, the president's claim he's open to background checks could be shortlived. While visiting the cities where Americans were gunned down, he said that there was "great appetite" for actions on background checks. There's also a great hunger for an assault weapons ban, but the president isn't that brave.
During a Feb. 2018 meeting with Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Trump asked if they included raising the age for some gun purchases in the bill they wrote.
“We didn’t address that, Mr. President,” Toomey said.
“You know why? Because you’re afraid of the NRA,” Trump chuckled.
But this week it seems Trump is the one getting the calls to back down, and it isn't his first time. After the Parkland shooting, Trump made promises before checking with LaPierre. Once the NRA came to the White House, things changed, and Trump was no longer a supporter of any regulations on weapons.
LaPierre told Trump a background check bill wouldn't be popular with his supporters. It's an interesting take given 90 percent of Americans want the background checks.
“I don’t think the president or his Republican allies are going to become out of nowhere advocates of aggressive gun control,” said conservative Matt Schlapp, whose wife works at the White House.
The Post reported that Trump asked his lawyers what he could do through executive order, according to officials. Some of the things he could do are to bring back some of the things he got rid of through executive order when he came into office.
“He seems determined to do something and believes there is space to get something done this time around,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who has befriended Trump since he took the White House. “The president has a pretty common-sense point of view. He’s never been a sports or gun enthusiast. But he is more determined than ever to do something on his watch.”
Trump reportedly also called Manchin, wanting to know about the past bills that never went anywhere.
“He was inquisitive, wanting to know why it hadn’t happened. He wanted to know all about it,” Manchin said. “I told him we couldn’t get enough Republicans to help us.”
Manchin warned Trump that unless he openly supports the legislation, Republicans won't.
“If you don’t stand up and say, ‘This is a piece of legislation I support,’ we’re not going to get enough cover to have Republicans stand tall. They won’t be able to do it,” Manchin said.
There could be the promise of progress if the NRA is in too much disarray to ensure the president's reelection. But, they could also weld the choke-hold they have on the president and stop any progress.