The Senate/White House/NRA gun kabuki continued Wednesday with a higher degree of incompetence than usual, which is because Trump. One part of the White House—represented by Attorney General William Barr and Legislative Director Eric Ueland—has been circulating a memo on Capitol Hill that would expand background checks to all commercial gun sales including gun shows. It’s much narrower than the universal background check bill from the House. The checks would be conducted either through the existing Federal Firearm Licensees (FFLs) or through a newly created group of licensed transfer agents. Sellers could choose where records of transactions would be held. It does not cover private sales.
But the fact that the document is coming from the White House doesn’t mean the White House supports it. “Not even close,” says White House spokesperson Hogan Gidley. “The President has not signed off on anything yet but has been clear he wants meaningful solutions that actually protect the American people and could potentially prevent these tragedies from ever happening again,” he said. And the document that Barr and Ueland have been circulating? “That is not a White House document, and any suggestion to contrary is completely false.”
Oh, okay. Sounds like maybe someone from the Hill maybe tipped off the NRA which then intervened with the White House to get them to disavow it. Because the NRA is not happy. It is “concerned about the White House’s handling of the talks, according to one top NRA executive who was not authorized to speak publicly,” reports the Washington Post’s Robert Costa, and the concern is being “quickly relayed to allies” the Hill. “NRA members and gun owners will not support the contents of this vague memo,” the executive told Costa. “It reads like a pathway to gun registration and confirms their worst fears.”
Trump is likely not involved in any of this. He certainly hasn’t sat through meetings in which the various former buyers and sellers are required to file and with whom have been discussed. But now that the NRA is freaking out, you can bet he’ll be involved. And once again, nothing will happen to protect Americans from gun violence.