The House will vote on widely popular universal background checks this week, but Trump has already threatened to veto it.
The House of Representatives is poised to pass a bill that would implement universal background checks, an idea supported by 97 percent of the general public. On Monday night, the Trump White House threatened to veto the bill if it makes it to his desk.
The bill represents a commitment by House Democrats to take the issue of gun safety seriously. While NRA-backed Republicans spent years offering nothing but empty "thoughts and prayers" as an epidemic of gun violence and mass shootings ripped communities apart, the new Democratic majority is putting forward real legislation to deal with the problem.
For the first time in almost a decade, the House held a hearing about the issue of gun violence and gun safety. And despite overwhelming Republican opposition, Democrats passed the universal background check bill out of committee, setting up a vote by the full House on it.
The bill would require universal background checks on all gun purchases, helping to keep deadly weapons out of the hands of criminals and those who may seek to do harm to others.
Before the committee hearing about the bill, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) celebrated the bill as a "most elementary proposal, to deny firearms to anyone who cannot pass a universal criminal and mental background check."
A 2018 poll showed overwhelming support for the idea of universal background checks. A stunning 97 percent of Americans support universal background check legislation, including 97 percent of Republicans, 98 percent of independents, and 99 percent of Democrats. Even 97 percent of gun owners support the idea. The poll was taken before Democrats were in control of the House, and did not ask about this specific legislation, but rather the concept of background checks.
In the aftermath of the gun-fueled massacre of students and adults at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Florida, Trump came out in support of universal background check legislation. Six days after the shooting, Trump said, "Whether we are Republican or Democrat, we must now focus on strengthening Background Checks!"
Less than a month later, Trump made another promise, saying, "Very strong improvement and strengthening of background checks will be fully backed by White House."
But when such legislation finally began moving through Congress, Trump immediately went back on his word. Instead of standing up for the safety of Americans, Trump aligned with the NRA in opposition to extraordinarily popular commonsense gun-safety legislation.
The bill is expected to pass the House, but Republicans in the Senate are already threatening to block it. Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsey Graham already ruled out taking up the bill in his committee, even if it passes out of the House. "We're kind of going our own way," Graham told Politico, saying he wants to hold hearings on "red flag" legislation.
Trump and his Republican allies are so beholden to the gun lobby that they oppose legislation with near-universal support from Americans.
When the next mass shooting happens, Republicans are sure to offer their thoughts and prayers for the victims' families. But those thoughts and prayers come with a catch: Opposition to any legislation that could prevent the next mass shooting, and the one after that, and the one after that.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.