Trump Urges Ban on Bump Stocks 02/21 06:13
As a grieving Florida community demanded action on guns, President Donald
Trump on Tuesday directed the Justice Department to move to ban devices like
the rapid-fire bump stocks used in last year's Las Vegas massacre. It was a
small sign of movement on the gun violence issue that has long tied Washington
WASHINGTON (AP) -- As a grieving Florida community demanded action on guns,
President Donald Trump on Tuesday directed the Justice Department to move to
ban devices like the rapid-fire bump stocks used in last year's Las Vegas
massacre. It was a small sign of movement on the gun violence issue that has
long tied Washington in knots.
"We must do more to protect our children," Trump said, adding that his
administration was working hard to respond to the shooting in Parkland that
left 17 dead.
After past mass killings yielded little action on tighter gun controls, the
White House is trying to demonstrate that it is taking the issue seriously. The
president, a strong and vocal supporter of gun rights, has not endorsed more
robust changes sought by gun control activists. But the White House cast the
president in recent days as having been swayed by the school shooting in
Florida and willing to listen to proposals.
In a tweet Tuesday night, Trump indicated he wants to strengthen the
background check system, but offered no specifics.
Trump said: "Whether we are Republican or Democrat, we must now focus on
strengthening Background Checks!"
Asked at a press briefing Tuesday if Trump was open to reinstating a ban on
assault-type weapons, spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said White House
officials "haven't closed the door on any front." She also said that the idea
of raising the age limit to buy an AR-15 was "on the table for us to discuss."
Sen. Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat and leading advocate for tighter
gun controls, said Trump's directive suggested the president was aware of fresh
energy on the issue and called it a sign that "for the first time" politicians
are "scared of the political consequences of inaction on guns."
A bipartisan legislative effort to ban bump stocks last year fizzled out.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives announced in December
that it was reviewing whether weapons using bump stocks should be considered
illegal machine guns under federal law.
Under the Obama administration, the ATF had concluded that bump stocks did
not violate federal law. But the acting director of the ATF told lawmakers in
December that the ATF and Justice Department would not have initiated the
review if a ban "wasn't a possibility at the end."
The Justice Department had not made any announcement regarding its review
when Trump on Tuesday signed a memorandum directing the agency to complete the
review as soon as possible and propose a rule "banning all devices that turn
legal weapons into machine guns."
Reacting to Trump's memo, the department said in a statement that it
"understands this is a priority for the president and has acted quickly to move
through the rulemaking process. We look forward to the results of that process
as soon as it is duly completed."
A day earlier, Trump sent another signal he had been swayed by the Parkland
shooting and the dramatic calls for action in its aftermath. A White House
statement said Trump was looking at a bill that would strengthen federal gun
background checks. On Wednesday, he will host parents, teachers and students at
the White House for a "listening session" that will include people impacted by
mass shootings in Parkland, Columbine, Colorado and Newtown, Connecticut.
The president was moved by a visit Friday with Florida victims in the
hospital and is trying to work on solutions, said a person familiar with his
thinking who sought anonymity to discuss internal conversations.
Among the steps sought by gun control advocates: closing loopholes that
permit loose private sales on the internet and at gun shows, banning
assault-type weapons and to passing laws to enable family members, guardians or
police to ask judges to strip gun rights temporarily from people who show
warning signs of violence.
The Parkland shooting also has prompted the Republican-controlled Florida
Legislature to take a fresh look at gun control legislation, although so far
GOP leaders are refusing to endorse calls to ban assault rifles. 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
The federal background check bill was developed in response to a mass
shooting last November in which a gunman slaughtered more than two dozen people
at a Texas church. It would penalize federal agencies that don't properly
report required records and reward states that comply by providing them with
federal grant preferences. The measure, which is pending in the Senate, was
drafted after the Air Force acknowledged that it failed to report the Texas
gunman's domestic violence conviction to the National Criminal Information
The GOP-controlled House paired the background checks bill with a measure
making it easier for gun owners to legally carry concealed weapons across state
lines. The concealed carry measure, a top priority of the National Rifle
Association, would allow gun owners with a state-issued concealed-carry permit
to carry a handgun in any state that allows concealed weapons.
Murphy said any attempt to combine background checks with concealed-carry
provisions would significantly jeopardize the chances of passing bipartisan
reform of the background checks system.
Associated Press writer Gary Fineout contributed from Tallahassee, Florida.