By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - U.S. President Donald Trump said Friday he supports instituting "very meaningful background checks," but assured the powerful National Rifle Association (NRA) lobbying group its views would be "fully represented and respected."
"We have tremendous support for common sense background checks," Trump said of firearm purchases the NRA is staunchly opposed to being implemented. "I think we can get something really good done. I really want to see it happen."
Trump is hopeful the NRA will not stymy the background check push, saying he received support from Democratic leaders in the House and Senate, as well as Republican Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell.
"We need intelligent background checks. This isn't a question of NRA, Republican or Democrat," he said.
The Democratic-controlled House previously passed legislation to expand background checks but it stalled in the Senate under McConnell whom Trump said is now "on board" following devastating back-to-back mass shootings last Saturday in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas.
But a spokesman for the senator quoted by the Washington Post newspaper said McConnell has yet to endorse any legislation. McConnell had previously blocked the House legislation from reaching the Senate floor.
The two gunmen in last weekend shootings killed 31 people and injured dozens more.
The NRA has clawed back at successive efforts to tighten America's gun laws, but Trump said he is confident it will either "be there or a little more neutral."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a joint statement after their telephone call Thursday with Trump that the president "gave us his assurances that he would review the bipartisan House-passed legislation."
Trump was met with significant public disapproval Wednesday when he visited Dayton and El Paso with rallies in both cities calling for greater gun control, and many taking issue with the president's oftentimes divisive rhetoric.