Mulvaney: Government can't 'protect everybody against everybody'

The White House chief of staff said the administration has taken steps to close gun loopholes but won't infringe on Second Amendment rights.

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By Ben Kamisar

WASHINGTON — Following the nation's latest mass shooting, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney argued Sunday that while President Donald Trump’s administration has taken steps to combat gun violence, “laws are not going to fix everything.”

Mulvaney cautioned against getting “too deep into politics too soon” after 12 people were killed in a Friday shooting in Virginia Beach.

When pressed on whether the administration thought it should do more, he pointed to recent moves to ban bump stocks and a bipartisan deal passed last year to shore up the national background check system as concrete actions that have been taken by the administration.

But he warned that the president doesn’t believe that “exceptions” should infringe on the Second Amendment rights of Americans.

"There are things the government can do and there are things this government is doing, but we are never going to protect everybody against everybody who is deranged,” he said Sunday on “Meet the Press.”

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“You have laws on the books that make murder illegal, yet they still do it. Laws are not going to fix everything."

The gun control debate is back in the spotlight after a gunman killed 12 people at a Virginia Beach government building on Friday. The suspect, who is a longtime city engineer, was killed by police responding to the shooting.

Trump tweeted his condolences on Friday, saying he had spoken to city leaders and that “the Federal Government is there, and will be, for whatever they may need.”

The president has had a mixed record on gun control, taking unilateral efforts to make some changes to how guns are sold in America but resisting calls for an overhaul.

His Justice Department outright banned bump stocks — which were used in the 2017 massacre in Las Vegas — through a federal regulation in late 2018. That move came despite outcry from the National Rifle Association, which raised concerns about people who legally bought the devices before they were made illegal.

He signed a Defense Appropriations bill in 2018 that included the Fix NICS Act, a bipartisan measure that made improvements to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

And Trump has also supported a controversial plan to arm teachers to protect against school shootings.

Still, many gun control advocates have balked at the president’s moves, arguing he either hasn’t gone far enough or that his proposals on arming teachers could create more danger for students.

The White House threatened to veto legislation passed by the Democratic-controlled House earlier this year that would require a background check for every gun sale, closing loopholes that allow some firearms to be purchased without one.