Trump stakes out a position on gun reform: 'We must now focus on strengthening background checks'

US President Donald Trump. Photo: Mark Wilson/ Getty Images.
  • President Donald Trump on Tuesday indicated his support for stronger background checks for gun purchases, nearly a week after a deadly mass shooting at a Florida high school.
  • “Whether we are Republican or Democrat, we must now focus on strengthening Background Checks,” Trump tweeted, echoing remarks the White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders gave earlier in the day.
  • The moment comes as student survivors amplify their calls for action in the interest of gun-law reform.

President Donald Trump indicated his support for stronger background checks for gun purchases on Tuesday night, nearly a week after a 19-year-old gunman opened fire on a Parkland, Florida, high school, killing 17 people.

“Whether we are Republican or Democrat, we must now focus on strengthening Background Checks,” Trump said in a tweet, echoing earlier remarks from the White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

“The President spoke to Senator Cornyn on Friday about the bipartisan bill he and Sen. Murphy introduced to improve Federal Compliance with Criminal Background check Legislation,” Sanders said. “While discussions are ongoing and revisions are being considered, the President is supportive of efforts to improve the Federal background check system.”

The Obama administration has previously sought to bee up background checks for gun sales after a 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School ended the lives of 20 children and six adults.

Trump’s comments follow what has been a concerted effort by student survivors of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to keep the conversation around gun-law reform at the top of the national consciousness. Such discussions had fizzled in recent months – most notably after a gunman killed 58 people in Las Vegas last fall.

The Parkland, Florida, shooting has prompted a national movement that is expected to spur demonstrations in major US cities next month.

The so-called “March for Our Lives” has already gained millions of dollars in pledges from some high-profile media figures.

Trump made his first move on gun control earlier Tuesday with his directive to the US Justice Department to propose a ban on devices that modify guns, known as bump stocks, which are devices designed to increase the rate of fire of semiautomatic firearms.

But any tangible movement on gun reform at the federal or state level has remained elusive, as evidenced Tuesday by a failed vote in Florida’s Republican-controlled House, which sought to consider a ban on large-capacity magazines and assault rifles such as the AR-15 – the same gun used by the Parkland shooter.

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