US President Donald Trump, a strong supporter of gun rights, planned to meet on Wednesday with parents, students and teachers who have been victims of gun violence, including those affected by last week’s school shooting in Florida.
The White House meeting comes a day after Trump said his administration would take steps to ban bump stocks, an accessory that enables a rifle to shoot hundreds of rounds a minute.
The Republican president, who was endorsed by the National Rifle Association gun lobby during the 2016 presidential campaign, was considering additional firearms restrictions after 17 people were killed in a shooting at a Parkland, Florida, high school.
“When horrific tragedies like this happen, everybody wants a quick and a simple answer, but there isn’t one,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said on Tuesday.
Tightening gun laws would mark a change in course for Trump, who has championed gun rights. The NRA opposes an outright ban on bump stocks but has said it would be open to restrictions on the devices.
The Feb. 14 shooting in Florida has galvanised students across the country to rally in favour of stronger gun laws.
On Sunday, student survivors of the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School reacted angrily after Trump, without providing evidence, said the Federal Bureau of Investigation may have been too distracted with a Russia probe to follow leads that could have prevented the massacre.
“You know what isn’t acceptable?” said Carly Novell, a senior at the Parkland school. “Blaming everyone but the shooter and the lack of gun control in our country.”
Under pressure after the deadliest-ever shooting at a US high school, Trump on Tuesday directed the Justice Department to quickly complete a proposed rule that would treat “bump stocks” as machine guns, which could effectively outlaw them in the United States.
Later this week, Trump will meet with local and state officials, and also plans to talk with governors about the issue.
On whether he is open to banning semiautomatic weapons like the AR-15 used by the shooter in Parkland, Sanders said, “We haven’t closed the door on any front.” She said a federal age limit for the purchase of those weapons may also be discussed.
Trump generally favours a Senate bill on background checks, she said, but she said she had not spoken with him about the House version of the bill, which included concealed carry reciprocity measures.