The White House and Department of Justice (DOJ) have met with multiple Republican senators and congressmen to shop legislation on expanding background checks consistent with the Manchin-Toomey bill, sources familiar with the effort told the Daily Caller.
The Daily Caller obtained a copy of an idea sheet circulating among Republican members, which indicates that the legislation in question would expand background checks to include all commercially advertised unlicensed sales.
“Consistent with the Manchin-Toomey draft legislation, a background-check requirement would be extended to all advertised commercial sales, including sales at gun shows,” the handout reads. “Background checks would be conducted either through a [Federal Firearm Licensee] or through a newly-created class of licensed transfer agents.”
Attorney General Bill Barr and White House Legislative Affairs Director Eric Ueland were both present at the Tuesday meetings, which took place on the Hill and included North Carolina Republican Rep. Mark Meadows, Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, and Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley.
Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee was also scheduled to meet to discuss the legislation, but Barr canceled the meeting, according to a Senate Republican staffer.
One source familiar with the meetings said that Barr pitched the legislation by warning that a lack of action could electrify the Democratic base prior to the 2020 election. Barr also did not consider the background check legislation a gun control measure, instead painting it as a tool to assist law enforcement in cracking down on gun smugglers, the source explained.
Another person familiar described the efforts to get Republicans on board as superficial, noting that there was no draft text or other follow-up action promised to them after the meeting.
While all gun sales through federally licensed dealers currently require background checks, private sales do not. The Manchin-Toomey legislation would ensure that any advertised gun sales through an unlicensed dealer would be subject to a background check. It would not apply to sales between family or friends or to loans, provided the firearms are not first advertised elsewhere.
The legislation would not address straw purchases, which account for nearly half of all illegally trafficked firearms, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
President Donald Trump has seemingly changed his mind on expanding background checks on several occasions, first stating after shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio that he is “all in favor,” only to later assert that such measures “would not have stopped any of it.” (RELATED: Trump Appears To Back Away From Background Check Legislation)
Nonetheless, the White House has been consistently meeting with key players in the gun debate — including pro-assault weapon ban Democrats — over the past month.
The White House and the DOJ did not immediately return a request for comment.
UPDATE (11:45 am):
White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley told The Atlantic’s Elaina Plott that President Donald Trump has not necessarily signed off on the plan being circulated to senators and congressmen.
“Not even close,” he said.
An update from the White House: Hogan Gidley tells me that just because WH legislative director Eric Ueland is among those pushing this on the Hill, it does NOT mean Trump himself has signed off on it. “Not even close.” https://t.co/BF7cGDdzqA
— Elaina Plott (@elainaplott) September 18, 2019
UPDATE (11:50 am):
Indiana Republican Sen. Mike Braun’s communications director disputed that Braun was in any meetings with Barr or Ueland regarding the gun proposal. Braun’s name has been removed from the article.