Trump needs to take lead on universal background checks

Declared mentally unfit by the courts, Seth Ator couldn’t pass the background check to buy a gun. But he still managed to buy an assault-style rifle — and use it on a 10-mile West Texas shooting spree Saturday, killing seven and injuring 22.

The loophole: He bought it from a private seller, and the law doesn’t require private firearm sellers to run background checks. It doesn’t even order them to ask would-be buyers if they’re legally allowed to own the weapon.

Ator tried to buy a gun in January 2014, but a check in the nationwide system flagged his mental-health disqualification and prevented the purchase, the Wall Street Journal reported.

You couldn’t ask for clearer proof of the need for a universal background-check law.

The public overwhelmingly supports the idea, yet it’s up to President Trump to make it reality. He’s the only one who can make Congress act to pass such a law, because its members can’t seem to agree on anything by themselves.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made that quite plain on Tuesday, saying he’s willing to bring gun-control legislation to the floor — so long as Trump backs it.

“I said several weeks ago that if the president took a position on a bill so that we knew we would actually be making a law and not just having serial votes, I’d be happy to put it on the floor,” McConnell told radio host Hugh Hewitt. “If the president is in favor of a number of things that he has discussed openly and publicly, and I know that if we pass it it’ll become law, I’ll put it on the floor.”

Trump has acknowledged loopholes in the system and said he has “an appetite for background checks.” The case of Seth Ator ought to make that appetite huge.

It’s time, Mr. President: Push now, clearly and publicly, to get universal background checks passed into law.

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