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US President Donald Trump (seen with Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel on February 12) has signalled support for a bipartisan effort to improve background checks for gun purchases in the wake of the Florida school shooting. Photo: AFP

Trump supports improved background checks for gun purchases after Florida school shooting

Trump has backed a 2017 bipartisan bill aimed at improving national background checks; he has not supported new legislation

US President Donald Trump supports efforts to improve federal background checks for gun purchases, two days after a shooting at a Florida school killed 17 people, the White House said on Monday.

Trump spoke to Senator John Cornyn, a Republican, about a bipartisan bill that he and Democratic Senator Chris Murphy introduced to improve federal compliance with criminal background checks, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said.

“While discussions are ongoing and revisions are being considered, the president is supportive of efforts to improve the federal background check system,” Sanders said in a statement.

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Sanders’ carefully worded statement comes days after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida that left 17 people dead. It stops short of an endorsement of the proposal.

Adin Chistian, 16, student of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and his mother Denyse, look at the crosses and Stars of David placed to commemorate those killed in the Parkland, Florida, mass shooting. Photo: Reuters

The bill, called the Fix NICS Act, would ensure that states and federal agencies comply with existing law on reporting criminal history records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), which is used to verify the criminal history of gun buyers.

Cornyn, upon introducing the bill, called authorities’ use of the system “lousy”.

Online speech, not guns, will be targeted after Florida school shooting

The bill, introduced after a mass shooting in Las Vegas last October - the deadliest by an individual in US history - and days after a gunman killed more than two dozen people in a church in Texas, has stalled in Congress.


Trump, who campaigned on loosening gun laws during his 2016 presidential bid, has not supported any new limits to gun ownership while in office.

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, co-sponsored the bill, which aims to improve use by authorities of a national background database. Photo: Bloomberg

The FBI disclosed that it failed to follow up on a detailed warning about the 19-year-old Florida gunman, and police said they had received more than 20 calls about him in the past few years, according to the Associated Press.

Survivors of the Florida high-school shooting are planning a “March For Our Lives” in Washington on March 24 to call attention to school safety and ask lawmakers to enact gun control.