President Trump said in an interview broadcast Thursday that bipartisan gun reform legislation is moving “very slowly,” partly putting the blame on Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke‘s comments supporting mandatory buybacks for assault-style weapons.
The president told Fox News’s Ed Henry on Wednesday that his administration is doing “a very careful job” when considering legislation and compromises between both parties.
“We’re not moving on anything,” he said in the interview that was broadcast on “Fox & Friends.”
“We’re moving very slowly in one way because we want to make sure it’s right.”
Trump added that O’Rourke’s comments at last week’s Democratic presidential debate are “part of the problem,” adding they are making other lawmakers on both sides nervous.
“Part of the problem that we have is because Beto O’Rourke’s statement about taking away guns,” he said. “All of the moderate Republications and some Democrats are now afraid to do anything to go down that slippery slope.”
O’Rourke, a former Texas congressman, asserted during the debate that he planned mandatory buybacks for assault-style rifles if elected president. “Hell yes we are going to take your AR-15, your AK-47,” he said.
Trump during the Fox News interview also described himself as a “very strong supporter of the Second Amendment” and said he does not plan on taking away guns from law-abiding citizens. He added he was willing to stand up against the National Rifle Association and the Republican Party to take action.
“I am if it’s not going to hurt a good, solid, great American citizen from keeping his weapon because they want that and they’re entitled to that,” Trump said.
Gun reform conversations have heightened since August, when mass shootings left almost 40 people dead.
The president has reportedly begun circulating a proposal for background checks, which Senate Republicans are approaching cautiously.
The House passed a bipartisan background checks bill in February that still awaits a vote in the Senate.
Updated at 11:14 a.m.