Trump drops calls to raise guns age limit

Media captionWould we reduce the incentive to commit a mass shooting if we refused to report the killer?

US President Donald Trump’s plan to deter school shootings does not include his repeated calls to raise the age for buying semi-automatic rifles to 21.

But he is moving ahead with his controversial proposal to provide firearms training to school employees.

The president tweeted that there was not much political support for raising the minimum age on weapons sales.

Americans must be 18 to buy a rifle or shotgun and 21 to buy a handgun off licensed dealers under federal law.

Unlicensed sales, such as those at gun shows, are federally allowed at any age for rifles and shotguns, and 18 for handguns, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The White House unveiled its proposals on Sunday night, following an attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 dead in Parkland, Florida, on 14 February.

The 19-year-old suspect – who allegedly used a legally purchased semi-automatic rifle to attack Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School – is charged with 17 counts of murder.

The White House said a new federal commission on school safety would examine the age limit issue.

But Mr Trump tweeted on Monday: “On 18 to 21 Age Limits, watching court cases and rulings before acting.

“States are making this decision. Things are moving rapidly on this, but not much political support (to put it mildly).”

Speaking last month, the Republican president Trump had suggested it was a problem that Americans can legally buy assault rifles from the age of 18 yet have to wait until 21 to buy handguns.

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The president has come under pressure from the country’s main gun lobby

“I mean, so they buy a revolver – a handgun – they buy at the age of 21,” he told school officials.

“And yet, these other weapons that we talk about, they’re allowed to buy them at 18.

“So how does that make sense? We’re going to work on getting the age up to 21 instead of 18.”

White House officials described the plan revealed on Sunday as a fulfilment of the president’s call for action after Parkland.

Media captionFlorida students have lobbied for tighter gun control measures

As well as setting up the new committee, it proposes to:

  • Fund programmes to train school staff to use firearms
  • Encourage military veterans and retired police officers to become teachers
  • Improve background and mental health checks

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who will chair the new federal commission on school safety, said the proposals were “meaningful actions, steps that can be taken right away to help protect students”.

Mr Trump has come under pressure from the country’s main gun lobby, the National Rifle Association (NRA), not to change existing legislation.

Following his repeated calls to raise the age limit, a representative for the gun lobby visited the White House.

Afterwards, chief NRA lobbyist Chris Cox tweeted he had a “great meeting” and the president and vice-president “don’t want gun control”.

The NRA is suing Florida after it passed a gun control law which raises the legal age for buying rifles to 21.

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Florida has been mourning 14 students and three staff killed in Parkland

According to the NRA, the bill violates the US constitution.

Chuck Schumer, leader of the opposition Democrats in the Senate, tweeted that the White House’s action plan amounts to “baby steps”.

Avery Gardiner, co-president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said: “Americans expecting real leadership to prevent gun violence will be disappointed and troubled by President Trump’s dangerous retreat from his promise.”

Survivors of the Florida shooting have been pressing for a complete ban on sales of assault-style rifles to the public.

Trump drops calls to raise guns age limit

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