President Donald Trump gestures as he walks as he leaves the White House, Friday, Feb. 16, 2018, in Washington, for a trip to his private Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Trump says more must be done to protect children

In a tweet Tuesday night, Trump indicated he wants to strengthen the background check system, but offered no specifics.

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.

Related: Trump refuses to address gun control following deadly Florida shooting

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.”

Related: Students head to Florida capital to press for gun law change

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 policies.

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 Center database.

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.

Catherine Lucey And Matthew Daly, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

BCHL Bulldogs are for sale

The Port Alberni Junior Hockey Society seeks a buyer after six full seasons of operation

Changes coming to BC Ferries reservations for Vancouver Island routes

Many customers are booking multiple reservations, inflating wait times

Port Alberni will consider cannabis bylaws at committee of the whole meeting

Members of the public are invited to provide input

Port Alberni Black Sheep win match against Island rivals

Black Sheep squared off against the Nanaimo Hornets for TC Cup action

11th annual Magic Cottage kicks off this weekend in Port Alberni

Cottage will be open over two weekends in November

Six students arrested, charged in sex assault probe at Toronto all-boys school

The school’s principal, Greg Reeves, described the video of the alleged sexual assault as ‘horrific’

Elections BC keeps eye on Canada Post dispute, but no change in Nov. 30 deadline

Vote No spokesman say an extension of one or two weeks would ensure all ballots are counted

Langley school pulls Japanese ‘rising sun’ flag after student petition

School district promises consultation with students and parents, defends using flag for war history

Calgary bobsled death inquiry recommends infrared technology, safety audits

A judge found the deaths of 17-year-old twins Evan and Jordan Caldwell were accidental and caused by blunt-force head and neck trauma

First ski hill in B.C. opened this weekend

Sun Peaks, near Kamloops, was the first ski hill in the province to open for season

$50k fine and community service for Vancouver Island tax evader

David Gonyea was given a nine-month conditional sentence

Island connection to launch of new $10 bill

Great nephew of Viola Desmond says bill is a ‘step in the right direction’

Paved Pacific Rim National Park trail costs balloon to $51 million

Feds kick in an additional $17 million to complete trail running between Tofino and Ucluelet

Most Read