Donald Trump has signalled his support for efforts to make it harder for criminals to buy firearms.
In an apparent U-turn following last week’s mass shooting at a school in Florida, the President has said he would back proposals to improve background checks before gun purchases.
Mr Trump had faced criticism for his opposition to gun control measures in the wake of the massacre that left 17 students and teachers dead.
But White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders revealed the President has spoken to a Democrat and a Republican about a bipartisan bill that would force states and federal agencies to report more frequently on offences that prohibit a person from buying a weapon.
“While discussions are ongoing and revisions are being considered, the President is supportive of efforts to improve the federal background check system,” she said.
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The proposed bill would punish states and federal agencies that fail to follow the law on reporting criminal history records to the national background check system – rewarding those that comply with the rules.
Mr Trump, who has been a strong supporter of gun rights and the National Rifle Association, was heavily criticised for his initial response to the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
In a tweet, he had written: “My prayers and condolences to the families of the victims of the terrible Florida shooting. No child, teacher or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American school.”
Sarah, believed to be a teenage student at the school who used Twitter to report the attack, posted another message, since deleted, calling him a “piece of s***” and urging him to “do something instead of sending prayers”.
The President later tweeted that suspected gunman Nikolas Cruz was “mentally disturbed” – and, after the FBI admitted it failed to act on tip-offs about the 19-year-old, he suggested the agency was spending “too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign”.
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The legislation that Mr Trump is supporting does nothing to address the divisive issue of America’s permissive gun laws under a constitutional amendment that protects the right to bear arms.
Known as the Fix NICS Act, it was prompted by a massacre at a Texas church in November, when gunman Devin Kelley killed 26 people.
Kelley was able to buy guns while serving in the air force despite a domestic violence conviction that should, by law, have prevented him from purchasing or possessing firearms.
The conviction was never reported, exposing a major weakness in the background check system.