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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 
in knots.

   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 
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.


(KA)

 
 
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