A timeline of Trump's record on gun control reform

ABC News looked at statements and promises Trump has made on gun control reform.

August 5, 2019, 2:45 PM

Following mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, that left at least 31 victims dead, President Donald Trump tweeted on Monday that he wanted legislation providing “strong background checks” for gun buyers.

But he provided no details on how those background checks might work or how any such measure could pass Congress, except to suggest that it somehow should be paired with immigration reform.

“We cannot let those killed in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, die in vain. Likewise for those so seriously wounded. We can never forget them, and those many who came before them. Republicans and Democrats must come together and get strong background checks, perhaps marrying this legislation with desperately needed immigration reform. We must have something good, if not GREAT, come out of these two tragic events!,” Trump tweeted.

President Donald Trump makes a statement to the news media about the recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, from the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, Aug. 5, 2019.
Leah Millis/Reuters

In fact, in his nationally-televised remarks Monday, he made no new calls for new gun legislation.

Here’s a look at the statements and promises Trump has made on gun control.

Back-and-forth positions on effectiveness of background checks

May 16, 2013: Before becoming president, Trump was asked on Twitter his position on gun control to which he responded, “Big Second Amendment believer but background checks to weed out the sicko's are fine.”

Nov. 2, 2015: In his book, “Great Again: How to Fix Our Crippled America,” Trump said “Unfortunately, as expected, bringing more government regulation into the situation has accomplished very little. The main ‘benefit’ has been to make it difficult for a law-abiding American to buy a gun. As study after study has proven, few criminals are stupid enough to try to pass a background check or have their names in any kind of system.”

Feb. 28, 2017: Trump signed a bill into law rolling back an Obama-era regulation that made it harder for people with mental illness to purchase guns. That Obama-era measure had included people receiving Social Security checks for mental illnesses and people deemed unfit to handle their own financial affairs to the national background check database.

PHOTO: President Donald Trump holds his notes while hosting a listening session with students survivors of mass shootings in the State Dining Room at the White House, Feb. 21, 2018, after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
President Donald Trump holds his notes while hosting a listening session with students survivors of mass shootings, their parents and teachers in the State Dining Room at the White House, Feb. 21, 2018, after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, FILE

Feb. 21, 2018: During a listening session with teachers and students following the deadly Parkland, Fla. high school mass shooting now-president Trump said, “We’re going to be very strong on background checks. We’re going to be doing very strong background checks.”

Feb. 28, 2018: In a room full of lawmakers Trump declared “You’re scared of the NRA.” During the televised meeting, the president called for a “powerful” bill on background checks to address mental illness.

Feb. 26, 2019: Nearly a year later, and two days before the House passed sweeping gun legislation that would require universal background checks for most gun purchases or transfers, Trump threatened a presidential veto on the legislation if it passed Congress.

Contradictions on the assault weapons ban

Sept. 18, 2015: In a campaign position paper published on his website Trump stated that "Gun and magazine bans are a total failure. That’s been proven every time it’s been tried," the policy paper said. "Opponents of gun rights try to come up with scary sounding phrases like “assault weapons”, “military-style weapons” and “high capacity magazines” to confuse people.

Feb. 28, 2018: During that televised meeting with lawmakers Trump seemed open to supporting the assault weapons ban proposed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

“This is when the 10-year assault weapon ban was in — how incidents and deaths dropped. When it ended, you see it going up. So Senator Murphy —,” Feinstein said

"So we’ll take a look at it,” Trump interjected.

“— and 26 of us have co-sponsored a new bill. I would be most honored if you would take a look at it,” Feinstein added.

“I will. I will,” Trump said.

Walks back views on raising the age limit for buying guns

People take part in a rally against hate the day after a mass shooting at a Walmart store, in El Paso, Texas, Aug. 4, 2019.
Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters

Feb. 28, 2018: Trump in that same meeting with congressional leaders also proposed raising the age limit for buying assault rifles from 18 years old to 21.

March 12, 2018: Trump seemed to back away from his statements a month prior saying that he would leave it to states to set an age limit for buying assault rifles.

Reconsidering the right to bear arms

Feb. 4, 2016: In a campaign video released on Facebook, Trump posted bluntly, ““I won’t let them take away our guns!!”

Feb, 28, 2018: In a meeting with lawmakers, Trump said, “I like taking the guns early, like in this crazy man’s case that just took place in Florida. He had a lot of firearms. They saw everything. To go to court would have taken a long time. So you could do exactly what you’re saying, but take the guns first, go through due process second.”

March 12, 2018: Trump called for all states to adopt Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPOs), also known as “red-flag laws” which allow law enforcement, with approval from a court, to remove firearms from individuals who are a demonstrated threat to themselves or others and temporarily to prevent individuals from purchasing new firearms.

Followed through on banning bump stocks

Feb. 20, 2018: Following the Parkland massacre where a gunman killed 17 people, Trump ordered the Justice Department to issue a ban on bump stocks, which are used to convert semi-automatic guns into automatic weapons such as the one used in the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting that left 58 people dead.

Dec. 18, 2018: Trump administration issued an official rule banning bump stocks.

Confusion on arming teachers

Feb. 21, 2018: During the listening session with Parkland teachers and students Trump suggested arming teachers with guns.

“An attack has lasted, on average, about three minutes. It takes 5 to 8 minutes for responders, for police to come in. If you had a teacher who is adept at firearms, they could very well end the attack very quickly,” Trump said.

Feb. 22, 2018: Trump tweeted the next day, “I never said “give teachers guns” like was stated on Fake News @CNN & @NBC. What I said was to look at the possibility of giving “concealed guns to gun adept teachers with military or special training experience - only the best. 20% of teachers, a lot, would now be able to.”

Dec. 18, 2018: President Donald Trump's federal commission on school safety released a report suggesting that schools consider arming themselves and provides guidelines for schools who may wish to equip “highly trained school personnel” with firearms to protect students in the event of a shooting -- including teachers, custodians and extracurricular staff.

April 10, 2019: Education Secretary Betsy DeVos appeared before the House Education and Labor Committee where she was pressed by Rep. Jahana Hayes, D-Conn., on the department’s stance regarding states using Title IV-A funds from the “Every Student Succeeds Act” to train and arm teachers. DeVos told the committee that she did not believe it was the department’s responsibility to decide if arming and training teachers was a proper use of the funds, and only said that officials had “not advocated for nor against” it.

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