Just how far is President Trump willing to push expanded background checks? Over the weekend, Senator Joe Manchin told CBS News that there’s been “good dialogue” with the White House on the issue, but the president himself seemed more interested in talking about mental health reform on Sunday.
“It’s the people that pull the trigger, not the gun that pulls the trigger so we have a very, very big mental health problem and Congress is working on various things and I will be looking at it,” Trump told reporters on the tarmac before heading back to Washington after a vacation at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.
The White House, Trump said, is “very much involved” in the discussions Congress is having to address gun violence and while “a lot of things are happening on the gun level” he said “the concept of mental institutions” must be addressed.
“These are people that have to be in institutions for help, I’m not talking about as a form of a prison, I’m saying for help and I think it’s something we have to really look at, the whole concept of mental institutions,” he said. “I remember growing up we had mental institutions, then they were closed — in New York, I’m talking about — they were, many of them closed. A lot of them were closed and all of those people were put out on the street.”
“So I think the concept of mental institutions has to be looked at,” he said.
Gun control groups, meanwhile, are doing their best to focus attention on things like “universal background checks,” “red flag” laws, and sweeping gun and magazine bans, holding rallies in support of new anti-gun laws in cities across the country over the weekend.
Dozens gathered in Foley Square in lower Manhattan to pressure the Senate, specifically Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, to take action on tougher gun safety laws, CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported.
“Mitch McConnell has had that bill on his desk since February, over 200 days,” said Scott Pappalardo of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “We need that bill to be put forward. It’s a bi-partisan bill. It will pass the Senate. He just needs to put it up to vote.”
Dozens gathered in lower Manhattan? That’s it? I’m pretty sure “dozens gather” in lower Manhattan on a daily basis, which doesn’t say much for the engagement of gun control groups, even in an anti-gun stronghold like New York City. Still, the weekend protests were more about getting press attention. The real lobbying by Everytown for Gun Safety will be taking place on Capitol Hill and in battleground districts and states. The anti-gun group founded by Michael Bloomberg says it will spend at least one million dollars targeting Republican lawmakers in an attempt to get their support for any gun control legislation considered by Congress in September.
Now is the time to make sure your lawmakers hear from you. Even if your Senators have never voted for to strengthen or protect Second Amendment rights, or if they’ve never voted for a gun control bill in their life, they still need to know what you’re thinking. Be polite, be civil, but be heard.