The White House on Sunday vowed to help provide “rigorous firearms training” to some schoolteachers and formally endorsed a bill to tighten the federal background checks system, but it backed off President Trump’s earlier call to raise the minimum age to purchase some guns to 21 years old from 18 years old.
The administration’s proposals come after 17 people were shot and killed last month at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., a massacre that spurred officials in Washington to reevaluate gun laws.
Democratic lawmakers and gun-control advocates accused Trump of succumbing to pressure from the NRA and other special-interest groups.
“This plan is weak on security and an insult to the victims of gun violence,” Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr. (D-Pa.) said in a statement. “When it comes to keeping our families safe, it’s clear that President Trump and Congressional Republicans are all talk and no action.”
“There are not going to be one-size-fits-all approaches and solutions, and I think that that is a very cogent argument for having a commission,” said a senior administration official, who would answer questions from reporters only on the condition of anonymity.
The centerpiece of the administration’s plan is Trump’s vow to “harden our schools against attack.” Since almost immediately after the Parkland shooting, the president has advocated arming some teachers as a solution to stopping future massacres.
Lily Eskelsen García, president of the NEA, the teachers lobby, said last month that “bringing more guns into our schools does nothing to protect our students and educators from gun violence. Our students need more books, art and music programs, nurses and school counselors; they do not need more guns in their classrooms.”
The administration also is urging all states to pass risk-protection orders, as Florida recently did, allowing law enforcement officers to remove firearms from individuals who are considered a threat to themselves or others and to prevent them from purchasing new guns, Bremberg said.
At the Justice Department, meanwhile, Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Saturday took an incremental step toward banning “bump stocks,” devices that can make semiautomatic weapons fire like fully automatic firearms.
In Florida, Gov. Rick Scott (R) defied the NRA on Friday by signing into law a new set of gun regulations that imposes a three-day waiting period for most purchases of long guns, raises the minimum age for buying those weapons to 21 and bans the possession of bump stocks.
“We send our sons and daughters over to Afghanistan, in Iraq,” at age 18, Johnson said. “They defend our freedoms. I think if they do that, they ought to be able to buy a hunting rifle.”
But NRA leaders then met privately with Trump, and the president had an apparent change of heart and backed off more-restrictive proposals. Last week, Trump met in the Oval Office with Kyle Kashuv, a Stoneman Douglas student who has become one of his school’s few pro-gun-rights activists with his frequent appearances on Fox News Channel.