Trump Says Gun-Safety Talks ‘Going Slowly,’ Blames O’Rourke Plan

Kathleen Hunter and Josh Wingrove

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump said renewed Republican concerns that Democrats want to confiscate weapons are slowing his administration’s efforts to negotiate gun safety legislation with Congress.

“I don’t want to have crazy people have guns. I don’t want to have bad people have guns. But we’re going to do nothing to hurt the Second Amendment,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News aired Thursday.

The president’s comments come as Attorney General William Barr is circulating a proposal that would expand background checks for gun buyers.

White House officials say Trump still hasn’t made a decision on what steps he’d back.

In the Fox interview, Trump blamed Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke’s unabashed “hell, yes” about a mandatory assault weapons buyback for making it more difficult to reach a deal.

“Part of the problem that we have is because of Beto O’Rourke’s statement, about taking away guns,” he said. “All of the -- a lot of Republicans, and some Democrats, now are afraid to do anything to go down that slippery slope. A lot of people think this is just a way of taking away guns. And that’s not good, because we’re not going to allow that.”

Trump in the past has publicly stated support for expanded background checks. But he’s shifted his position, most recently expressing doubt about whether they would be effective in curbing gun violence.

He also has threatened to veto a House bill that would extend background checks to sales between individuals.

The proposal being circulated includes requiring background checks for all commercial guns sales, including at gun shows, according to a copy of the document obtained by Bloomberg.

The idea was dismissed by the National Rifle Association’s lobbying arm as a “non-starter” in a tweet that said it would burden gun owners without addressing mental health issues and “the prosecution of violent criminals.”

Negotiations on potential new firearms restrictions spurred by mass shootings last month in Texas and Ohio have been stymied while Republicans look to the White House for any idea of what the president would sign.

--With assistance from Erik Wasson, Laura Litvan and Steven T. Dennis.

To contact the reporters on this story: Kathleen Hunter in London at khunter9@bloomberg.net;Josh Wingrove in Washington at jwingrove4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Craig Gordon at cgordon39@bloomberg.net, Elizabeth Wasserman, Kathleen Hunter

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