If No New Gun Control In September, It Won't Happen

Gun control appears to be fairly popular at the moment, and that’s a problem. It’s not surprising, though. After all, support for anti-gun legislation surges following mass shootings and there have been a number of those in recent months.

Yet gun control legislation actually passing is still as tricky as it ever was.

Now, it appears that unless a deal can be reached to pass gun control by the end of September, it’s not happening at all.

If new gun legislation doesn’t pass in September, it won’t get done before the 2020 election, sources involved in the talks between the White House and Capitol Hill tell Axios.

The bottom line: “It’s September or bust,” said a source involved in the discussions. “We’ll either have everything ready for when Congress returns, drop it on the floor, vote on it and move on — or we blow it.”

The state of play: The president genuinely wants to expand background checks, according to White House and Hill officials. He’s directed the Domestic Policy Council and Office of Legislative Affairs to provide him with options for a reform package, these sources said.

  • As of now, Trump has expressed support for big, vague ideas — including tougher background checks and restrictions on firearms access to the mentally ill — but on the gun issue, consensus typically evaporates when lawmakers dive into the details.
  • It’s also still unclear whether House Democrats, who have already passed a bill to extend background checks to all gun purchases, would support a slimmer package.

Trump’s interest in expanding background checks is still troubling. Especially since the case is being made that his alliance with the NRA will allow him to provide cover for Senate Republicans.

The more troubling part is that I think they’re right. While the NRA has never expressed support for universal background checks, there’s not really anywhere else for gun rights groups to go. They either back Trump or get someone worse with the Democrats.

However, if we’re only needing to hold on for six weeks or so, there’s hope.

After all, legislation takes time and there are a lot of ways kinks can be thrown into the mix. All of those can create delays and those delays are rarely over in a few hours.

What really matters is just how much pressure Trump will try to exert on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. McConnell holds the authority to either pave the way for a universal background check bill or stymie it completely. If McConnell is on board, consider it a done deal regardless of what else gets thrown at it. If he’s not, well…then things get interesting.

So far, McConnell hasn’t really given a strong indication that he’s willing to pass such a measure. There have been grumblings here and there, but McConnell hasn’t done to publicly just yet. That suggests he’s still considering his options. Is he willing to cross Trump, be the butt of the president’s Twitter-tirades, and weather that storm?

If so, there’s a hope of killing more background checks.

How great that hope is, though, remains to be seen.

Sep 22, 2021 6:30 PM ET