Trump backs improved background checks on gun buys
- Author: Leroy Wright Feb 22, 2018,
Feb 22, 2018, 14:36
Trump spoke to Senator John Cornyn, a Republican, on Friday about a bipartisan bill that he and Democratic Senator Chris Murphy introduced to improve federal compliance with criminal background checks, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said.
Bump stocks turn semi-automatic weapons into an automatics and were used by gunman Stephen Paddock, who killed 58 people and injured hundreds more when he opened fire on a Las Vegas concert in October.
Lawmakers who back the bill say following existing procedures better may have stopped the shooter who killed 26 people at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, a year ago from getting a gun.
The move comes as a Florida community grieving over the deaths of 17 people in a high school shooting last week demanded tougher gun control.
Asked on Tuesday whether the President would support steps to raise the federal minimum age for buying military-style weapons, such as the AR-15, Sanders did not rule it out.
Lawmakers in Tallahassee said they would consider raising the age limit to 21, the same standard for handguns and alcohol, although the state Senate on Wednesday opted not to take up a gun control measure. But they only have to be 18 to buy a rifle or shotgun.
After the Vegas massacre, the NRA said it backed a ban on bump stocks. Still, the discussion of some types of gun control legislation is a dramatic turnaround for Florida, which has earned the nickname the "Gunshine State" for its gun policies.
After the shooting in Parkland, a number of students have called for marches across the country to promote new gun restrictions.
Mr Trump's memorandum adds: "Although I desire swift and decisive action, I remain committed to the rule of law and to the procedures the law prescribes".
Speaking at the White House Tuesday evening at a ceremony recognising the valor of police officers, Trump said that he had directed the Justice Department to draft a bill to make bump stocks illegal.
He also showed interest in allowing teachers to carry concealed guns in schools. Democrats say that is a non-starter.
Samuel Zeif, a student at the Florida high school whose friend died in the shooting, cried as he said, "I'm here to use my voice because I know he can't".
Previous mass shootings in the United States have also stirred outrage and calls for action to tighten USA gun laws, with few results in Congress.
But previous gun tragedies have not led Congress to act. Five states have enacted so-called red flag laws, but the effort has not gained traction in Congress.
Hillary Clinton's political adviser, Adam Parkhomenko, wrote: "Trump brought Cliff notes to the gun violence listening session. I'm confident that you will do the right thing".