Trump urges ban on gun devices like bump stocks

2018-02-21 06:12
Jamie Lambert visits a makeshift memorial for victims of the mass shooting in Las Vegas. (John Locher, AP, file)

Jamie Lambert visits a makeshift memorial for victims of the mass shooting in Las Vegas. (John Locher, AP, file)

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Washington - As a grieving Florida community demanded action on guns, US President Donald Trump on Tuesday directed the Justice Department to move to ban devices like the rapid-fire bump stocks used in the 2017 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.

READ: Once an obscure device, 'bump stocks' are in the spotlight

The president, a strong and vocal supporter of gun rights, has not endorsed more robust changes sought by gun control activists.

Willing to listen

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

"Whether we are Republican or Democrat, we must now focus on strengthening Background Checks!"

READ: Survivors of deadly school shooting lash out at Trump

Asked at a press briefing on Tuesday if Trump was open to reinstating a ban on assault-type weapons, spokesperson 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".

Still, Senator 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".

The president's action was "a small, but vital step in the history of our movement" against gun violence, Murphy added.

Trump said he wanted to crack down on a device that was used in the October 2017 shooting in Las Vegas that left 58 people dead. A bipartisan legislative effort to ban bump stocks in 2017 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.

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".

The Department of Justice, reacting to Trump's memo, 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."

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