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story.lead_photo.caption President Donald Trump speaks with reporters before departing on Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019, in Washington. Trump is headed to Kentucky. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump said he is working with Republican and Democratic lawmakers to enhance background checks for gun purchases, denying reports that he had abandoned the idea after meeting with the National Rifle Association.

"We're working on background checks. There are things we can do," Trump said Wednesday as he left the White House for an event in Kentucky.

The president said he had a "great" talk with NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre on Tuesday and denied reports that he had pledged not to pursue more stringent background checks.

The debate over gun control has heated up again this month after a pair of shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, that killed more than 30 people.

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Trump has blamed the mass shootings in part on mental illness, while also saying he believes video games are a factor.

The president on Wednesday said he considers gun violence a public-health issue and is considering ways to make background checks more strict.

While Trump said he backed tighter background checks for gun purchases, he said he wants to be careful that closing what he calls "loopholes" doesn't clear the way for more gun control.

"You're on that slope and all of a sudden nobody has any legal protection," he said. "Our Second Amendment will remain strong."

When a reporter said the "slippery slope" argument is a NRA talking point, Trump said, "It's a Trump talking point."

In the days after the recent mass shootings, Trump said he was eager to implement "very meaningful background checks" and told reporters there was "tremendous support" for action. He dismissed the "slippery slope" thinking, which he attributed to the NRA, saying, "I don't agree with that."

But he also has acknowledged that his core supporters back gun rights, highlighting the challenge of balancing the politics of gun control ahead of the 2020 elections.

He also said Tuesday that while the current system has "sort of missing areas and areas that don't complete the whole circle," it is overall "very, very strong."

Information for this article was contributed by Jordan Fabian of Bloomberg News; and by Jill Colvin, Laurie Kellman and Kevin Freking of The Associated Press.

A Section on 08/22/2019

Print Headline: President: 'Working' on 'things' for guns

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