WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed a memo directing Attorney General Jeff Sessions to propose regulations “to ban all devices that turn legal weapons into machine guns,” including the popular gun attachments known as bump stocks.
Trump announced the move at a White House ceremony honoring public safety officers, saying “We must do more to protect our children” in the wake of last week’s deadly shooting rampage at a South Florida high school in which 17 students and faculty members were killed and more than a dozen others were seriously injured.
“We must move past clichés and tired debates and focus on evidence-based solutions and security measures that actually work,” Trump said in prepared remarks.
The announcement came a day after the president — facing growing calls from student activists and lawmakers alike to reform the nation’s gun laws after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida — announced his support for bipartisan legislation that calls for improvements to background checks on gun buyers.
Lawmakers last year floated proposals aimed at regulating the sale of bump stocks in response to the deadly October shooting rampage at a Las Vegas outdoor concert, in which 58 people were killed and hundreds of others were wounded. The shooter, Stephen Craig Paddock, 64, reportedly opened fire on the crowd from his hotel room, using a cache of semi-automatic rifles that were outfitted with bump stocks.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, speaking at Tuesday’s White House news briefing, said the president had not “closed the door” on supporting an overall ban on assault rifles such as the AR-15 rifle used by Nikolas Cruz, 19, to gun down students and others at his former school in Parkland on Valentine’s Day. Sanders said the administration was also open to discussing possible age restrictions on purchases of such semi-automatic rifles.
“I think that’s certainly something that’s on the table for us to discuss and that we expect to come up,” Sanders said.
On Wednesday, Trump is slated to hold a “listening session” at the White House with students, teachers and parents who have been affected by past school shootings, including Parkland, the 1999 mass shooting at Columbine High School that killed 15 Colorado students, and the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, where 20 children and six faculty members were gunned down.
Trump, calling school safety “a top priority for my administration,” said he also planned to meet with law enforcement officials at the White House on Thursday and a number of governors next week to discuss “what the federal and state governments can do to keep our students safe.”