Sat, Feb 24, 2018 - Page 7 News List

Trump suggests age limit on guns

AP, WASHINGTON

The US should keep assault rifles out of the hands of anyone under 21, US President Donald Trump said on Thursday, defying his loyal supporters in the US National Rifle Association (NRA) amid public reckoning over gun violence.

He also pushed hard for arming security guards and many teachers in US schools.

“There’s nothing more important than protecting our children,” Trump said.

Trump had spoken with many members of the US Congress and NRA officials, he said, adding that they would go along with his plans in the wake of last week’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead.

However, there were no words of support from the NRA for his minimum-age proposal — and outright opposition from organizations of teachers and school security guards for the idea of arming schools to deal with intruders.

“The NRA will back it and so will Congress,” Trump said as he called for raising the legal age of purchase for “all” guns from 18 to 21.

A spokesman later said that Trump was speaking specifically about semiautomatic weapons.

The proposal came just hours after the NRA affirmed its opposition, calling such a restriction an infringement on gun owners’ rights.

Trump has spent the past two days listening to ideas about how to stem gun violence at schools after last week’s shooting.

On Wednesday, he heard from students and family members of those killed in recent shootings and on Thursday from local and state officials.

Meanwhile, in Florida funerals continued and a sheriff’s deputy who had been on duty at the school, but never went inside to confront the shooter, resigned after being suspended without pay.

Trump has been proposing a growing list of ideas, including more stringent background checks for gun buyers, reopening some mental institutions to hold potential killers and banning “bump stock” devices that allow semiautomatic rifles to mimic machine guns.

He on Thursday said that many teachers have military experience and suggested that they be paid bonuses for the added responsibility of carrying weapons.

He also appeared open to other proposals to “harden” schools, such as fortifying walls and limiting entry points.

One idea Trump did not like are the “active shooter” drills that some schools hold.

He called that “a very negative thing” and said he would not want his own son participating.

Spokesman Raj Shah later said that Trump was concerned about the name and would prefer calling them safety drills.

In Florida, Republican US Senator Marco Rubio said he now is open to raising age requirements for long-gun purchases, a day after he was confronted over his pro-gun votes and support from the NRA by Parkland students and parents at a CNN town hall meeting.

US Senator Pat Roberts, another Republican, told reporters during a visit to the Kansas Statehouse that he supported raising age requirements.

“Certainly, nobody under 21 should have an AR-15,” Roberts said.

NRA leaders emerged in unannounced appearances at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), blaming the FBI and local reporting failures for the Florida shooting.

“Evil walks among us and God help us if we don’t harden our schools and protect our kids,” NRA executive vice president and chief executive Wayne LaPierre said. “The whole idea from some of our opponents that armed security makes us less safe is completely ridiculous.”

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