White House abandons gun legislation
By Josh Dawsey, Washington Post

WASHINGTON — President Trump has abandoned the idea of releasing proposals to combat gun violence that his White House debated for months following mass shootings in August, according to White House officials and lawmakers, a reversal from the summer when the president insisted he would offer policies to curb firearm deaths.

Trump has been counseled by political advisers, including campaign manager Brad Parscale and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, that gun legislation could splinter his political coalition, which he needs to stick together for his reelection bid, particularly amid an impeachment battle.

The president no longer asks about the issue, and aides from the Domestic Policy Council, once working on a plan with eight to 12 tenets, have moved on to other topics, according to aides who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the private deliberations.

Four White House officials said there haven’t been substantive discussions in weeks. And a person close to the National Rifle Association said discussions between the White House and the group have gone silent in a sign that the powerful gun lobby is no longer concerned the White House will act. Trump was pressed repeatedly by NRA President Wayne LaPierre this summer and early fall to not propose any gun control measures.

‘‘President Trump quietly moved gun control to the side and let it be replaced by breaking news,’’ said Dan Eberhart, a major GOP donor who said Trump is better off not advancing proposals at this time. ‘‘I suspect that was the plan all along.’’

The White House’s position is a marked, if not wholly unexpected, change from when the president vowed he would make a push to pass more restrictive laws after two gunmen killed scores of people in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso in early August, creating national outrage.

Trump repeatedly said he was a supporter of more aggressive background checks, would consider ‘‘red flag’’ laws that allow authorities to temporarily take weapons away from someone deemed a danger, and frequently mentioned the need to focus on mental health as it relates to gun violence.

He made a flurry of calls to lawmakers while crossing the country to visit victims and said he would be willing to go against the desires of the NRA.

In the face of skepticism that he would not push hard for gun restrictions his party has long opposed, Trump insisted he was serious about the issue and would release proposals.

Several senators working with Trump on gun proposals said they have not been involved in any recent talks.