WH: Trump supports efforts to improve gun background checks
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — President Trump indicated Monday he supports gun-background-check legislation in response to last week’s mass shooting at a Florida high school.
“The president is supportive of efforts to improve the federal background check system,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.
The statement comes five days after a gunman killed 17 people and injured more than a dozen others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
Sanders said Trump spoke Friday with Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) about a bill he co-authored with Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) to bolster the federal background check system. She cautioned that “discussions are ongoing and revisions are being considered” to the measure.
The bipartisan measure is narrowly focused on background checks; it would require states and federal agencies to produce plans to report offenses that would bar people from passing a check needed to purchase a firearm.
It also reiterates that federal agencies must report all violations to the National Instant Criminal Background Check system and creates new financial incentives for states to report information.
Cornyn and Murphy unveiled the measure last November in response to a mass shooting in Texas, but it was never passed into law. It is supported by the National Rifle Association (NRA).
It remains unclear whether the president would back more sweeping gun legislation.
Trump met behind closed doors on Sunday at his Mar-a-Lago club with Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who has shown resistance to new gun laws following last week’s shooting. The White House said the two discussed “the recent tragedy in Parkland” but did not provide further details.
The president, who has been a strong supporter of gun rights, has come under mounting pressure to back stricter gun laws in the aftermath of the massacre.
A group of students from the Parkland school staged a pro-gun control rally in nearby Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Saturday and called out Trump for the support he has received from the NRA.
Until Monday, the president had not indicated whether support for any new gun laws.
Trump met Friday night with injured victims and law-enforcement officials who responded to the Parkland shooting before heading to Mar-a-Lago, which is roughly 30 miles away, to spend the holiday weekend.
The president mostly stayed inside his palatial estate over the next two days because aides recommended he should not golf while the tragedy of the shooting was still raw. But Trump ventured out to his private golf club in West Palm Beach on President’s Day.
Over the weekend, Trump spent much of his time responding to television news.
He focused his frustrations on the developments in the Russia investigation, but took time to criticize President Obama for not passing gun-control laws when Democrats had one-party control of Washington.
Trump also accused the FBI of missing signs about the alleged Parkland shooter because it is “spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign.”
Last year, Trump overturned an Obama-era regulation designed to make it harder for certain people with mental health issues to buy guns.
Critics said nixing the regulation could potentially increase the danger to the gun buyers and others. The suspected gunman in the Parkland shooting had a troubled upbringing and was reportedly being treated by a therapist.
During his campaign, Trump cast himself as a pro-gun candidate.
At an NRA gathering in 2016, he said that the Second Amendment was “on the ballot in November.”
“The only way to save our Second Amendment is to vote for a person that you all know named Donald Trump,” he said.
Updated at 11:47 a.m.
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