The Trump White House is unwilling to throw its weight behind legislation to loosen restrictions on buying gun silencers. At least for now.
When asked on Tuesday morning for the president’s position on the bill, which is under consideration in the House, Marc Short, the White House’s Director of Legislative Affairs, told The Daily Beast that there currently is none.
“I don’t think we do yet,” Short said. “I think we view it as right now we’re still in the process of wanting to be responding” to the immediate needs of the victims of the Las Vegas shooting. “I think it’s premature to be discussing it,” Short said.
The Trump administration is a close ally of the gun lobby and the National Rifle Association. So it’s unwillingness to jump on board one of the most high-profile pieces of gun legislation is notable. It also reflects the White House’s desire to avoid talk of any firearm-specific policy at all in the immediate aftermath of the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
In the wake of the Las Vegas shooting, which left at least 59 dead and 527 injured, Democrats have turned their sites to the silencer bill, which would deregulate the sale of firearm suppressors. In the hours after the shooting, 2016 Democratic president nominee Hillary Clinton brought up the legislation to ding Republicans on the issue of gun control.
The legislation had progressed through the House prior to the Las Vegas shooting. But has stalled since. Leadership has no immediate plans to vote on the legislation, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said on Tuesday. “That bill is not scheduled now; I don’t know when it’s going to be scheduled,” Ryan told reporters. “Right now we’re focused on passing our budget.”
With the White House not publicly pushing the measure, the timeline for its consideration becomes less clear. President Donald Trump himself said on Tuesday, before departing to his visit to storm-ravaged Puerto Rico, that “we’ll be talking about gun laws as time goes by,” without specifying a time. Trump is scheduled to visit Las Vegas on Wednesday.
The White House comms shop did not immediately respond to a request for comment on this story.
Sources close to the president say that it is possible that he eventually comes out against, or at least does not explicitly support, the silencer bill, as a way of demonstrating independence on the gun policy in the wake of the Las Vegas massacre. Were he to do so, it would be an explicit break from his eldest son, who has been a top ally of business interests pushing the legislation.
“I love your product,” Donald Trump Jr. said in a promotional video for SilencerCo in September 2016. “It’s just a great instrument. There’s nothing bad about it at all. It makes total sense. It’s where we should be going."
Trump Jr. added that they could even help get “little kids into the game” of hunting.