Trump willing to discuss gun controls

WEST PALM BEACH (Florida) • US President Donald Trump has signalled he is willing to join a discussion on gun restrictions amid the national outcry led by teenagers who survived last week's mass shooting at a Florida high school.

Mr Trump is open to improvements in federal background checks for prospective gun buyers, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement on Monday.

She said the President also spoke on Friday with Senator John Cornyn of Texas about legislation to revamp the system that the senator helped introduce last year.

The White House stopped short of backing the Bill, but the statement was a departure for a President who has focused on the mental health of gunmen and suspects rather than access to the firearms used in the attacks, after other mass shootings.

"While discussions are ongoing and revisions are being considered," Ms Sanders said, "the President is supportive of efforts to improve the federal background check system."

The proposed legislation - introduced by Mr Cornyn, three other Republicans and four Democrats in the Senate - would make significant changes to the national instant criminal background check system. The Bill would hold federal agencies accountable for failing to add relevant information. It would also establish an initiative to better monitor gun buyers with records of domestic abuse.

The Bill was also backed by the National Rifle Association, which spent tens of millions of dollars on supporting Mr Trump in the presidential campaign and against his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

But the legislation would have done little to stop the shooting last week at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people.

The suspect, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, had no criminal record. He bought at least seven guns legally, including an AK-47 he had purchased in the past month, a federal law enforcement official said on Monday.

Several other Republicans have expressed a willingness since the shooting to discuss a change in gun laws, though they have given few specifics.

Their remarks recalled other murmurings of change that ultimately fizzled out.

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 21, 2018, with the headline 'Trump willing to discuss gun controls'. Print Edition | Subscribe