WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump said Wednesday that all “mentally stable” Americans should be able to own firearms amid reports he retreated on plans to toughen gun purchase background checks in the wake of a string of mass shootings.
“I want guns in the hands of people that are mentally stable,” Trump told reporters.
“Those people, I want them to be easily able to get a gun. But people who are insane, people who are sick… I don’t want them to be able to get a gun.”
Trump denied media reports that on Tuesday he had promised National Rifle Association head Wayne LaPierre that he would not press Congress for a law tightening background checks on people seeking to purchase guns.
Several leading media outlets including the Washington Post and The Atlantic quoted White House sources as saying Trump promised LaPierre he would not pressure Congress for a stringent, universal, pre-sale review of all gun buyers.
Public safety and anti-gun groups are demanding Trump close a gaping loophole in federal laws which exempts private sellers of guns online and at gun shows from running background checks on buyers.
Doing so would make it harder for many people to purchase guns, and conceivably help reduce gun violence.
Trump said he had talked to LaPierre, whose organization has a commanding influence on any legislation to do with guns, but denied making a commitment on background checks.
“I didn’t say anything about that,” he told reporters.
“We just talked about concepts,” he said.
“We have a lot of background checks right now. But there are certain weaknesses. We want to fix the weaknesses.”