Trump is reportedly feuding with the NRA after leaks about his calls with Wayne LaPierre
- President Donald Trump has reportedly been feuding with the National Rifle Association over next steps for legislation requiring background checks for gun purchases.
- Staffers inside the White House were frustrated with what they believed were efforts by NRA officials to cast itself as having more influence over Trump than they actually did, senior administration officials told The Daily Beast.
- Trump publicly switched stances on potential background check legislation after speaking with LaPierre.
- In early August, after the El Paso and Dayton shootings, he vowed to look into "strong background checks." But he reversed his stance just days later.
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President Donald Trump has reportedly been feuding with the National Rifle Association over next steps for legislation requiring background checks for gun purchases.
The clash reportedly began after Trump backed away from a public promise to look into background-check legislation. News reports quickly surfaced revealing that Trump made the pivot after a series of meetings and phone calls with gun-rights advocates, including chief executive Wayne LaPierre.
But senior Trump administration officials are disputing that characterization, telling The Daily Beast that the NRA pulled a "d--k move" and exaggerated the organization's influence over Trump.
The Beast quoted one unnamed senior administration official as saying that the president believes the NRA "is playing games with the White House," but has not ordered anything be done about it.
Trump's relationship with the NRA faced renewed scrutiny earlier this month after two back-to-back mass shootings in Ohio and Texas left 31 people dead.
Trump told reporters just days after the shootings that he supported heightened background checks for gun owners.
"I'm looking to do background checks," he said August 7. "I think background checks are important. I don't want to put guns into the hands of mentally unstable people, or people with rage or hate, sick people - I'm all in favor of it."
He also tweeted a suggestion on August 5 that "Republicans and Democrats must come together and get strong background checks, perhaps marrying this legislation with desperately needed immigration reform."
The NRA is under more pressure than ever, including legal battles, infighting, and financial concerns
Associated Press/Alex Brandon
Associated Press/Alex Brandon
Despite his vow, gun-control advocates and Democrats were doubtful Trump would keep his word. The president has backed gun-control measures in the past, only to abruptly change his mind after facing pressure from NRA officials and Republicans.
The New York Times reported that after several meetings and calls in recent weeks with gun-rights advocates and LaPierre, Trump reverted to using several traditional NRA talking points about gun-control legislation, including blaming mental illnesses rather than gun violence, defending the Second Amendment, emphasizing policy reform over proposals, and arguing that guns aren't to blame for their owners' actions.
"People don't realize, we have very strong background checks right now," Trump told reporters at the White House after his calls with LaPierre, according to The Atlantic. "You go in to buy a gun, you have to sign up. There are a lot of background checks that have been approved over the years, so I'll have to see what it is."
The NRA is reportedly facing internal and external tensions that could be the main motivation for its push for publicity that aligns Trump with LaPierre, the Beast notes, including legal battles, financial concerns, and worries about holding their base.