The Lead

Pa. Rep. Dwight Evans: Trump isn’t a ‘reliable’ partner on gun control

By: - August 26, 2019 2:57 pm

U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans, D-3rd District, speaks during the monthly Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon in Harrisburg, Pa. on Monday, Aug. 26, 2019 (Capital-Star photo by John L. Micek)

There’s still a chance that a sharply divided Congress might be able to make progress on anti-gun violence measures when it returns from its summer recess next month. But President Donald Trump “isn’t the most reliable” negotiating partner, U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans said Monday.

“I’m sort of optimistic that something will happen,” Evans, D-3rd District, said after a speech to the Pennsylvania Press Club at the Hilton Harrisburg. “… There’s a lot pressure building to get something done.”

Lawmakers got an earful from their constituents during their annual summer break on such anti-gun violence measures as expanded background checks and so-called “red flag” laws that would allow law enforcement to seize someone’s weapons if they’re believed to pose a threat to themselves or to public safety.

Such was the case in suburban Pittsburgh earlier this month, when constituents of U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, D-17th District, said their safety concerns were mounting as the start of a new school year drew ever closer.

“I have a son who’s a senior in high school. Since middle school they’ve been going through active shooter drills in the schools and that just makes me sick to my stomach,” a man named Ed Modaro told Lamb during that town hall, NBC News reported. “I’d like to know why you support putting military style assault weapons in the hands of civilians.”

Speaking in Harrisburg on Monday, Evans said he’s ready for a serious discussion, and could consider supporting an expanded gun control measure co-sponsored by Pennsylvania Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey and U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va, even though it’s “not my preference.”

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The majority-Democrat U.S. House passed a background checks measure of its own earlier this year. But along with other Democratic bills, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has declined to bring the legislation to a vote.

But even if the bill did a get vote, Evans acknowledged that Trump — who initially called for background checks in the wake of mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, that left 31 people dead and dozens more wounded, and then abruptly pivoted after talks with the National Rifle Association — could not be counted on to be a reliable negotiating partner.

Trump “tweets one thing,” and then goes in a different direction, Evans said.

Evans pointed to widespread public support for background checks as impetus for congressional Republicans to get on board with anti-violence measures.

“The statistics show people want something done,” he said.

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John L. Micek
John L. Micek

A 3-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. An award-winning political reporter, Micek’s career has taken him from small town meetings and Chicago City Hall to Congress and the Pennsylvania Capitol. His weekly column on U.S. politics is syndicated to 800 newspapers nationwide by Cagle Syndicate. He also contributes commentary and analysis to broadcast outlets in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Micek’s first novel, “Ordinary Angels,” was released in 2019 by Sunbury Press.