Trump Wants ‘Comprehensive Background Checks’ for Gun Buyers. What Does That Mean?

Today on Twitter, Donald Trump announced that he “will be strongly pushing Comprehensive Background Checks with an emphasis on Mental Health.” I’m not sure what he means by that, and I’m not sure he knows what he means by that. But it is worth considering a few possible interpretations and whether they make sense as a response to last week’s mass shooting at a high school in Florida.

By “comprehensive background checks,” Trump might mean “universal background checks,” a policy advocated by his predecessor that would require FBI clearance for every gun transfer and not just for those involving federally licensed dealers, as under current law. The perpetrator of the Florida attack, like most mass shooters, did not have a criminal or psychiatric record that would have legally disqualified him from owning a gun, and he passed a background check when he bought the rifle he used to kill


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