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US President Donald Trump open to tougher gun background checks after Florida high school massacre

Monday - 19/02/2018 15:29
AS AMERICA reels from the massacre of 17 people at a Florida high school, Donald Trump has suggested he’s willing to act.

THE White House signalled that US President Donald Trump would be open to bolstering gun background checks in the wake of a mass shooting at a Florida high school last week that rekindled the debate about gun control.

The president spoke on Friday to Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn about a bill the Texas Republican introduced with Democrat Senator Chris Murphy that would “improve federal compliance with criminal background check legislation,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement overnight.

“While discussions are ongoing and revisions are being considered, the president is supportive of efforts to improve the federal background check system,” she said.

President Trump and first lady Melania with Dr. Igor Nichiporenko at Broward Health North hospital, where victims of the shooting are being treated. Picture: AP
President Trump and first lady Melania with Dr. Igor Nichiporenko at Broward Health North hospital, where victims of the shooting are being treated. Picture: APSource:AP

Mr Cornyn and Mr Murphy were among a bipartisan group of politicians who supported the background check bill introduced in November after a church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, that left 26 people dead.

It’s the first indication that Mr Trump would back a measure to bolster background checks.

In the days after 17 people were gunned down at Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS in Parkland, Florida last Wednesday, Mr Trump blamed mental illness and called on “neighbours and classmates” to report erratic behaviour.

The White House also said Mr Trump will host a “listening session” this Wednesday with high school students and teachers, but didn’t confirm that Parkland teenagers will be part of the discussion.

Shooting survivor Emma Gonzalez’s passionate speech on gun control has sparked a movement in the US. Picture: AFP
Shooting survivor Emma Gonzalez’s passionate speech on gun control has sparked a movement in the US. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

A group of students who survived the rampage also announced that they will hold a “March for Our Lives” rally in Washington, D.C., on March 24 to highlight the need for gun control.

Mr Trump spent the three-day President’s Day weekend at his resort in Mar-a-Lago, which is about 65 kilometres north of the school shooting site, and surveyed members about gun control laws, The Washington Post reported.

Brian Gruzrnski hugs 14-year-old-son Joshua at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where 17 people were killed. Picture: AFP
Brian Gruzrnski hugs 14-year-old-son Joshua at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where 17 people were killed. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

He also spent much of his time on Twitter, unleashing several rants about the Russia probe and at one point blamed the FBI for not pursuing a tip about the Parkland school shooter because the bureau was so focused on trying to find evidence his campaign helped Russians meddle in the election.

“Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign — there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!” he wrote late on Saturday.

The FBI admitted it did not follow “protocols” in pursuing the tip it received January 5 at a call centre about Nikolas Cruz’s violent postings on social media and his desire to kill.

The president’s Twitter tantrum followed the indictment on Friday of 13 Russians by the Department of Justice on charges they carried out an elaborate plot to sabotage the 2016 election by creating chaos and supporting Mr Trump at the expense of Hillary Clinton.

This article originally appeared on the New York Post and has been republished with permission.

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