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GOP senator says chances are "better than they have ever looked" for gun control measure

Behind Trump's changing stance on guns, taxes
Behind Trump's changing stance on guns, taxes... 04:20

Senator Pat Toomey says President Trump is still "very interested" in moving forward on a background check proposal, he told Politico in an interview Monday. The measure, which would be based on the failed bipartisan plan Toomey originally crafted with Democratic Senator Joe Manchin in 2013, would be more conservative than the universal background check legislation that passed the House earlier this year. 

Toomey, a Republican from Pennsylvania, told Politico he spoke with Mr. Trump late last week. He has been discussing the bill with the White House, despite the president's apparent shifts on his support for background checks. Toomey says he's optimistic about getting a bill passed.

"The chances are looking better than they have ever looked at any time, certainly, since Senator Manchin and I first pushed for Manchin-Toomey back in 2013," Toomey told Politico.  

As first reported by Politico, it's likely the measure will be amended in order to attract greater Republican support.

GOP Senator Lindsey Graham and Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal are also working on "red flag" legislation, which would include federal grants for states to assist and encourage states to adopt laws that would enable law enforcement to seek a quick, temporary court order to remove firearms from those who are deemed to be a danger to themselves or others.

In the weeks since two mass shootings took the lives of 31 people in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, Mr. Trump has gone back and forth on whether he would support background check legislation. Shortly after the shootings, Mr. Trump said he was looking to implement "very meaningful background checks," claiming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is on board.

Before the August congressional recess, McConnell suggested that gun control measures would be considered by Congress, but he was cautious about what the Senate would discuss. 

"The key to this is making a law, not a point," he told Louisville radio station WHAS 840 in early August. Referring to guns as a "front-and-center" issue, McConnell said, "What we can't do is fail to pass something. What I want to see here is an outcome, not a bunch of partisan back and forths, shots across the bow." McConnell said that there was "a lot of support" for the Toomey-Manchin legislation.

The group Everytown for Gun Safety, which advocates for greater gun control measures, is running ads urging McConnell to support red flag laws and background check legislation. The $350,000 ad run across multiple markets also targets Republican Senators Cory Gardner of Colorado and Marco Rubio and Rick Scott of Florida.

Rubio told reporters Tuesday that he had "communicated" with Mr. Trump about red flag legislation.

Mr. Trump told reporters last week that the U.S. already has "very, very strong background checks" for gun purchases, and he noted that many of his supporters "are strong believers in the Second Amendment."

Second Amendment advocates have urged Mr. Trump not to support red flag legislation. Mr. Trump also spoke with National Rifle Association chief executive Wayne LaPierre in the wake of the shootings. The NRA has long opposed any kind of background check legislation.

However, a White House official said that conversations about background check legislation are ongoing.

"As we work to find consensus on meaningful policies to actually reduce gun violence, we continue to engage congressional staff as we have been doing for the past several weeks," the official said in a statement.

Natalie Brand contributed to this report

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