President Trump contradicted reports that the White House is moving forward with a legislative package on gun control, saying in an interview with Fox News anchor Ed Henry Thursday that negotiations on the issue are "going very slowly."
"No, we're not moving on anything. We're going very slowly in one way, because we want to make sure it's right. We want to — we're doing a very careful job," Mr. Trump said.
The White House was initially expected tothis week after consulting with Republican and Democratic senators over the last few weeks. A source familiar with the discussions told CBS News that a formal rollout is more likely to occur after the United Nations General Assembly next week.
Several proposals that House Democrats want to see in legislation, including universal background checks, are off the table for the White House, the source also said. The White House and Attorney General William Barr have been working with Senators Joe Manchin, Pat Toomey and Chris Murphy on a background check bill modeled after legislation proposed by Manchin and Toomey in 2013.
In the wake of two mass shootings in a 24-hour period in August, Mr. Trump said he would bealthough he later backed away from that statement.
In the Fox News interview, Mr. Trump also slammed Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke, who has called for a ban on assault weapons and a mandatory buyback for any assault weapons currently possessed by gun owners.
"Part of the problem that we have is because of Beto O'Rourke's statement about taking away guns," Mr. Trump said. "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."
Mr. Trump reiterated that he is a "strong believer in the Second Amendment." The president, who in 2018 boasted about his willingness to stand up to the National Rifle Association, had this to say when asked whether he would go against the NRA's wishes with regard to gun control policy:
"I am, if it's not going to hurt a good, solid, great American citizen from keeping his weapon because they want that and they are entitled to that. We have a Second Amendment. 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, and what we want to do is see if we can come up with a compromise, and that's what we're working on."
In her weekly press conference, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that she has prayed for Mr. Trump and his safety, and said that she "pray[s] he will open his heart to safety of American families as well."
She also faulted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for not bringing gun control legislation passed in the House to the Senate floor.
"This is not even obstruction, it's abandonment of your responsibility as a leader of the Senate of the United States," Pelosi said.
Sara Cook and Paula Reid contributed to this report