With pressure on both the administration and congressional leaders to move forward with gun policy reforms, it was no surprise that Monday’s White House Press briefing received a myriad of questions regarding President Trump’s position on various gun policy proposal. President Trump has met with students and parents of Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School, state Governors, and NRA leader Wayne LaPierre to discuss the initiation of safer schools and communities. According to Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, the goal of the administration is to “protect the rights of law-abiding Americans, while keeping guns out of the hands of those who pose a danger to themselves and society.” Here’s how Trump stands on various gun control measures:
Ever since the Las Vegas shooting, there has been a call for additional regulations on bump stocks, which even received support from the NRA. President Trump signed an executive memo directing the ATF and Department of Justice to work on solutions for the banning of bump stocks, an object which converts a semi-automatic weapon into having rapid firing potential. “If we cannot find an administrative fix, we would support a legislative solution to complete that,” Sanders stated. The outlawing of bump stocks has also received bipartisan support among members of Congress, however, even with legislative initiatives, there has been no success in passing legislation to ban bump stocks.
AGE LIMIT TO PURCHASE A RIFLE
The majority of U.S. states currently allow 18-year-olds to purchase an AR-15 rifle. With the Parkland shooter being able to purchase multiple rifles while only being 19 years old, requests to raise the age have become prevalent. Although the NRA has come out in opposition to raising the age, stating that it would be an infringement of a constitutional right for individuals ages 18-20, the President has backed the idea. Sarah Sanders stated that the President is still “supportive of the concept.” There will be further discussion on the issue when the President meets with members of Congress on Wednesday to look at how it can be implemented into legislation.
Another major proposal that has been discussed by both the President and Congress has been improving the federal background check system for firearm purchases. Although there is much support from Americans to implement stronger background checks, the screening process has failed to stop mass shooters in the past, including the Virginia Tech shooter in 2007. The NRA does not support expanding of the firearm background check for this very reason. The Administration is taking a different stance. “The President believes that we should look at strengthening background checks,” Sanders stated. Trump has also expressed support for the Fix NICS Act, a bipartisan attempt to ultimately increase the enforcement of the NICS among state and federal agencies while adding penalties to agencies that fail to upload their records.
ARMING INDIVIDUALS IN SCHOOLS
The Administration has proposed the arming of some school personnel in an effort to prevent an armed individual from entering or harming students on a school campus. Sanders explained in further detail that the Administration is “not advocating for the arming of every single teacher in the school. We think that hardening our schools and protecting our students with trained personnel is a viable path and one that we’re very much looking at.” The NRA has backed this plan, but House Majority Leader Paul Ryan refused to sign onto the President’s proposal. Various studies have shown that teachers and school districts are generally opposed to the idea.
MENTAL HEALTH REFORM
President Trump has become a proponent of implementing mental health reforms to stop mentally ill individuals from being able to purchase a firearm. In the case of the Parkland shooting, the shooter was being given mental health services by the school district but refused further help when he turned 18. The shooter’s social media account and various testimonies also foreshadowed the mass shooting that took place. “The President is very focused on mental illness, working with the Health and Human Services Department to determine the best path forward on that, and what is available and allowed under the law — certainly something that we take very seriously, and something that we want to address,” Sanders stated. Republicans in Congress have agreed that mental health should be a legislative priority when addressing the issue. The problem that Trump will face with mental health reform is whether or not this will actually fix the issue. “Mass shootings by people with serious mental illness remain exceedingly rare events and represent a fraction of a percent of all yearly gun-related homicides,” according to the American Psychiatric Association.
ASSAULT WEAPONS BAN
House Democrats have introduced a bill calling for a ban on semi-automatic weapons, which has not been accepted by the President and has received staunch opposition by the NRA. Although AR-15s have shown up in multiple mass shootings, the bill “permits continued possession of, but prohibits sale or transfer of, a grandfathered LCAFD (large capacity ammunition feeding device)” meaning there would still be millions of Americans with AR-15s. Additionally, the majority of gun violence in the U.S. is conducted with handguns, not semi-automatic weapons. The bill will also be discussed on Wednesday when Trump meets with Congressional leaders.