Murphy Warns Trump Against ‘Trying to Have It Both Ways’ on Gun Control

President's willingness to listen and negotiate shocked lawmakers on both sides of aisle, sent mixed signals after Parkland school shooting

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) warned Sunday on ABC News’ “This Week” that President Donald Trump is “trying to have it both ways” on gun control legislation. He says he’s doing so by appeasing both Democrats and Republicans after February’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

“The president has the potential to move mountains here,” said Murphy (shown above). “I think the president is trying to have it both ways. I think he knows that the mood of the country has shifted such that he and his party are going to pay a huge price in the polls in 2018 and 2020 if they don’t start supporting things like universal background checks.”

“At the same time,” Murphy continued, “the NRA was one of his earliest supporters once he was moving toward the [Republican presidential] nomination, as he was trying to consolidate the Republican Establishment in 2016. And so he’s trying to keep them happy as well.”

The senator was referring to Trump’s bipartisan roundtable discussion Wednesday with lawmakers to discuss legislation addressing gun restrictions, mental health reforms, and tightened background checks, among other issues.

He stunned Democrats and Republicans alike when he bucked the National Rifle Association (NRA) and showed support for at least some Democratic gun control ideas. But the president walked back some of his pro-gun control stances Friday and reaffirmed his support for the Second Amendment and constitutional due process.

Murphy, an ardent supporter of expanded gun control legislation, said Trump’s instincts “are not wrong.” The frequent Trump critic even praised the president for showing a willingness to listen to shooting survivors and gun control advocates and work toward a bipartisan solution.

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But Murphy also warned Trump that “if he and the Republicans don’t start showing some movement in the wake of Parkland, there aren’t going to be as many Republicans around for him come 2019. And for his entire agenda, and perhaps for his political salvation, that’s not good news for him.”

When “This Week” host George Stephanopoulos asked Murphy if he believed Trump would “come back around to your point of view on guns,” the senator replied, “I have a feeling he’s going to continue to bob and weave.”

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“And what I take confidence in, though, is that the movement that [Trump] showed in that meeting is reflective of what are at his foundation not terrible political instincts,” Murphy said.

Among the most shocking things Trump said Wednesday was, “Take the guns first, go through due process second.” GOP Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a frequent Trump critic and a minor player in the 2016 Republican presidential primary, said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” that such talk from Trump was “not the way we’re going to do it” in Ohio.

The state is considering legislation that would allow for pre-emptive gun violence restraining orders to be imposed while still protecting due process.

“What I tried to do out here was to bring those who are very strongly pro-gun with those who — they believe in the Second Amendment, but think there ought to be limits, and come up with a package that we think could pass,” Kasich said. “It’s not enough to just say something. You want to pass something. So, I’m optimistic we will.”

“We don’t want people who are … emotionally in upheaval, who could pose a threat either to themselves or to somebody else, to be in a position of where they can have a gun,” Kasich said. “What I hope is going to happen is, we will make some steps.”

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who co-sponsored a bill with Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) that was on the table at Trump’s meeting last week, said on “State of the Union” that he’s “not taking anybody’s guns away from them.”

Although Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) urged lawmakers to add a semi-automatic weapons ban to the bill — a move that Trump initially appeared to support before walking that back afterward — Manchin said that such a provision “wouldn’t help our bill at all.”

Related: Is Trump ‘Ignoring’ Constitution and Second Amendment? Bartiromo Grills Conway

“And I have told Dianne that. I’m not taking anybody’s guns away from them,” Manchin said, adding he believed Trump would sign his bill if it made it to his desk.

“I really believe he would,” Manchin said. “In my heart of hearts, I believe that.”

Manchin said it’s “up to President Trump” to lead lawmakers into delivering the reforms and protections that Americans are demanding.

“He can be the first president — and that can be a legacy for him — to do something that takes the commercial transaction of a gun, an openness as it can be, when the internet and the terrorists and criminals can go anywhere they want under any conditions in any state and buy what they want,” Manchin said. “That’s all we’re saying. Shut that down, but don’t take away my rights as a law-abiding gun owner.”

PoliZette writer Kathryn Blackhurst can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter.

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