Schumer and Pelosi, Talking to Trump on Guns, Try to Sweeten the Deal

The comment quickly went viral, playing into the hands of Republicans who fight gun bills by warning that Democrats will violate Americans’ Second Amendment rights. It also turned into a headache for Democrats on Capitol Hill, who are trying to propose what they often describe as “reasonable” gun legislation and are single-mindedly focused on forcing Republicans to take up the background checks bill, having decided to drop a push for an assault weapons ban.

“We know background checks work,” Representative David Cicilline, Democrat of Rhode Island and a member of leadership, said Sunday on “Fox News Sunday,” adding: “The American people are demanding that we do something. It is no longer safe to be in synagogues and churches and shopping malls and schools.”

After back-to-back mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Tex., in early August, the White House initiated bipartisan talks with senators to determine what, if any, gun bills they might work on together. Aides to Mr. Trump presented the president with his options last week, but the White House has not said precisely what Mr. Trump is considering.

The talks have included discussion of the so-called Manchin-Toomey bill, a bipartisan Senate measure named for its chief sponsors, Senators Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, and Patrick J. Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania. That bill is not as far-reaching as the House measure; it would extend background checks only for commercial sales, not for private sales, and includes some exemptions for friends and family members.

A White House official, speaking anonymously to discuss internal deliberations, said on Sunday that the president had instructed his advisers to continue to work to find a range of policies that would go after illegal gun sales while protecting the Second Amendment, and expand the role of mental health professionals.

Senators participating in the talks say they also have included consideration of “red flag” legislation, which would make it easier for law enforcement to take guns from people deemed dangerous by a judge. Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, is working on such a bill in the Senate.

In arguing for the background checks bill, Mr. Schumer and Ms. Pelosi said people subject to such orders might still be able to purchase firearms if the background checks system is not expanded. They vowed in their statement to “accelerate a relentless drumbeat of action to force Senator McConnell to pass our background checks bills.”