Surprised by President Trump's apparent support for gun control legislation at a White House meeting on that topic, Sen. Chris Murphy warned the president not to underestimate the gun lobby. The Connecticut Democrat has fought for gun control since Sandy Hook, and said, "it's going to have to be you that brings the Republicans to the table on this ... because right now, the gun lobby would stop it in its tracks."
"If all we end up doing is the stuff that the gun industry supports, then this just isn't worth it. We are not going to make a difference," Murphy said.
"I like that responsibility, Chris. I really do," Trump said. "I think it's time. It's time that a president stepped up, and we haven't had them -- and I'm talking Democrat and Republican presidents. They have not stepped up."
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY: Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, thank you very much. Thank you for taking this seriously. Our hearts go out to Parkland. We know, having gone through this in Sandy Hook, that that community will never, ever be the same.
And I want to bring us back to this issue of background checks, if I could, becauase I think there's real opportunity.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I agree.
MURPHY: There is no other issue out there in the American public today like background checks. Ninety-seven percent of Americans want universal background checks. In states that have universal background checks, there are 35 percent less gun murders than in states that don't have them. And yet we can't get it done. There's nothing else like that, where it works, people want it, and we can't do it.
TRUMP: But you have a different president now.
MURPHY: Well, listen, I...
TRUMP: I mean, you went through a lot of presidents, and you didn't get it done. But you have a different president, and I think, maybe, you have a different attitude, too. I think people want to get it done.
MURPHY: Well, listen...
TRUMP: Go ahead.
MURPHY: In -- in the end, Mr. President, the reason that nothing has gotten done here is because the gun lobby has had a veto power over any legislation that comes before Congress. I wish that wasn't the case, but that is. And if all we end up doing is the stuff that the gun industry supports, then this just isn't worth it. We are not going to make a difference.
And so I'm glad that you sat down with the NRA, but we will get 60 votes on a bill that looks like the Manchin-Toomey compromise on background checks, Mr. President, if you support it. If you come to Congress, if you come to Republicans and say, "We are going to do a Manchin-Toomey-like bill to get comprehensive background checks, it will pass. But if this meeting ends up with just sort of vague notions of future compromise, then nothing will happen.
TRUMP: I agree. We don't want that.
MURPHY: And so -- so I -- I -- I think we have a unique opportunity to get comprehensive background checks, make sure that nobody buys a gun in this country that's a criminal, that's seriously mentally ill, that's on the terrorist watch list. But Mr. President, it's going to have to be you that brings the Republicans to the table on this...
MURPHY: ...Because right now, the gun lobby would stop it in its tracks.
TRUMP: I like that responsibility, Chris. I really do. I think it's time. It's time that a president stepped up, and we haven't had them -- and I'm talking Democrat and Republican presidents. They have not stepped up.