As President Donald Trump dithers on requiring tougher background checks before someone can buy a gun, I’d like to point out that he doesn’t need to care if the National Rifle Association is opposed.

I mean, seriously, if NRA Chief Executive Wayne LaPierre doesn’t like it, what are his choices? Send campaign donations to Joe Biden or Elizabeth Warren? Bankroll a Republican challenger to Trump?

I’ll frame this in the kind of language Trump seems to understand best.

Mr. President, you’re you, and LaPierre is a nasty guy.

You don’t have to take orders from him. You don’t have to listen to him. He can’t hurt you. He may pout, posture, mumble and threaten to dig up Charlton Heston to see if his cold, dead hands remain wrapped around a flintlock.

But he’s got nothing.

I think Trump really does want tougher background checks. Guess what? So do the vast majority of Americans. A Quinnipiac University poll in May found that 94 percent of the country favors that.

Democrats, Republicans, and, yes, even a majority of NRA members support that idea.

A Fox News poll reported, “… overwhelming and bipartisan majorities of voters favor background checks on gun buyers and taking guns from people who are a danger to themselves or others.”

Yet, the president has been all over the map on this issue.

After the massacres in Dayton and El Paso, the President tweeted, “Republicans and Democrats must come together and get strong background checks, perhaps marrying this legislation with desperately needed immigration reform.”

Of course, he said the essentially same thing following other mass killings, only to change the subject when it was time for action. But the wind is at his back on this one. Surely, he knows that.

I was kind of glad to see LaPierre be so petulant, by the way. Public opinion is trending against this smarmy, blood-stained worm, and this can only accelerate the process.

Maybe, someone got that message through to Trump. During a Wednesday chat with reporters, Trump reversed course again. He said, “I have an appetite for background checks.”

Maybe he can invite human roadblocks like Sen. Mitch McConnell to join him at the background checks buffet.

Of course, it’s risky to believe any policy position put forth by the president. He could change his mind five more times before midnight.

However, one thing won’t change, at least for now.

He is the president and has more stripes on his shoulder than LaPierre or anyone with the NRA. On background checks, he doesn’t need to care what they think or say. Nothing is stopping him from doing the right thing.

The next time LaPierre tries to slither into the conversation, Trump should tell him he’s busy watching old Sean Hannity tapes. Or eating lunch, or thinking about eating lunch.

What he could do, and this is just me talking, is remind LaPierre who is the boss.

The president could always dust off that old line, “You’re fired.”

Whatever he chooses to do, it’s time to show some backbone on background checks.

While he is doing that, it might show everyone that Wayne LaPierre really doesn’t run this country.

Joe Henderson has had a 45-year career in newspapers. This column moved on


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