Trump 'supportive' of bolstering background checks on gun purchases

By Sara Shayanian
Students and teachers protest at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., Sunday. Seventeen people were slain there last week. Photo by Gary Rothstein/UPI
Students and teachers protest at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., Sunday. Seventeen people were slain there last week. Photo by Gary Rothstein/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 19 (UPI) -- The White House said Monday that President Donald Trump is supportive of efforts to help strengthen background checks for gun purchases.

Trump spoke to Sen. John Cornyn on Friday about the bipartisan bill he and Sen. Chris Murphy introduced to strengthen how state and federal governments report offenses that could prohibit people from buying a gun.


"While discussions are ongoing and revisions are being considered, the president is supportive of efforts to improve the federal background check system," a statement from the White House said.

The White House said Trump will take part in a "listening session" Wednesday with high school student and teachers after 17 people were gunned down at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

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A 19-year-old former student is charged with the Valentine's Day slayings. His weapon was an AR-15 assault rifle.


On Thursday, Trump is set to meet with with state and local officials on school safety, although it's unclear whether gun control will be part of the discussion. Friday, Trump is scheduled to speak to the Conservative Political Action Conference, a group for which gun rights are a top issue.

One survivor of the Florida shooting said he would not attend any "listening session" with Trump.

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"If Donald Trump wants to listen to us, he should have taken the first invitation," Alex Wind told CNN. "We are not going to come to him. He is going to need to come to us."

Meanwhile, students are organizing marches and walkouts aimed at urging federal lawmakers to act to end gun violence.

A branch of the Women's March dedicated to young activists is calling on students, teachers, school administrators, parents and allies to take part in a national school walkout on March 14.

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The planned walkout will last for 17 minutes, symbolizing the 14 students and three teachers who were killed in Parkland.

"Congress must take meaningful action to keep us safe and pass federal gun reform legislation that addresses the public health crisis of gun violence," the Women's March Youth EMPOWER said in a statement. "We want Congress to pay attention and take note: Many of us will vote this November and many others will join in 2020."


Students in Parkland are planning their own event on March 24 in Washington, D.C. Called the "March for Our Lives," a mission statement for the students said they believe the time to discuss ways to end gun violence "is now."

"The mission and focus of March For Our Lives is to demand that a comprehensive and effective bill be immediately brought before Congress to address these gun issues," the event's website said. "No special interest group, no political agenda is more critical than timely passage of legislation to effectively address the gun violence issues that are rampant in our country."

Other Parkland students will travel to Tallahassee, Fla., this week to speak to state legislators to push for new legislation.

The GOP is also facing pressure from donors to ban military-style firearms.

Al Hoffman, Jr., a Florida-based real estate developer and former finance chairman of the Republican National Committee, says he won't offer financial support to GOP leaders until they "all support a ban on assault weapons."

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