By Umar Farooq
WASHINGTON (AA) - U.S. President Donald Trump called Wayne LaPierre, chief executive of the National Rifle Association (NRA), and told him universal background checks for gun purchases are off the table, according to a report published Tuesday by The Atlantic magazine.
Trump’s comments in the report suggest he had backtracked from his position following deadly shootings earlier this month in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, which left a total of 31 people dead.
In the aftermath of the shootings, Trump said he was in favor of "intelligent background checks" and that the issue was not a matter of being Republican or Democrat.
The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives previously passed legislation to expand background checks, but it stalled in the Senate under Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whom Trump had said was "totally on board" with background checks following the devastating back-to-back mass shootings.
The Atlantic reported that Trump is no longer supportive of the initiative and instead told LaPierre he was "was cementing his stance that we already have background checks and that he's not waffling on this anymore," a source told the magazine regarding the president’s phone call.
The NRA chief confirmed the phone call with Trump but did not provide details on what was discussed.
"I spoke to the president today. We discussed the best ways to prevent these types of tragedies," LaPierre said on the NRA’s Twitter account.
The White House however rebuffed The Atlantic’s report.
"The president has not mentioned supporting universal background checks. Meaningful background checks remain on the table. The President and Wayne did speak today as the NRA’s tweet confirms," a White House official said in a statement to The Hill news website.