Looks like the Trump administration will not be raising the minimum age for purchasing assault rifles after all. Instead, as the White House announced in its recently released school safety policy proposal, the government will focus on training and arming teachers so they can prevent further incidents of school shootings — a move that is likely to draw more criticism than appreciation for obvious reasons.
In the wake of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, which left 17 students and staff members dead, President Donald Trump asked Republican lawmakers to look into increasing the age limit for buying assault-style firearms from 18 to 21 during a televised meeting, giving people hope the administration might actually take a step toward introducing some long-awaited gun reforms.
At the end of said meeting, the president also asked the lawmakers if they were afraid of the National Rifle Association (NRA), stunning both Republicans and Democrats alike.
While backpedaling on age restrictions, Trump’s proposal did announce the administration’s support for the bill strengthening criminal background checks on gun buyers by backing the "Fix NICS" bill.
Introduced by GOP Sen. John Cornyn and Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy, the bill “intends to improve the information going into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System by offering financial incentives to federal and state authorities to comply with existing law to report criminal history records,” as reported by CNN.
Trump’s proposal also included a plan to establish the Federal Commission on School Safety, headed by controversial Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, to study the proposals on school violence prevention, raising the age restriction on certain firearms and background checks for weapons bought at gun shows or over the internet. According to a senior White House official, the commission will have to report its findings within a year.
“Today we are announcing meaningful actions, steps that can be taken right away to help protect students,” said DeVos. “Far too often the focus has been only on the most contentious fights — the things that have divided people and sent them into their entrenched corners. But the plan that we're going to advance and talk about is a pragmatic plan to dramatically increase school safety and to take steps to do so right away.”
She added the commission will "bring together a wide array of practitioners" to identify at-risk students.
The proposal also focuses on increasing access to mental health services.
Following the shooting in Parkland, Florida, Trump suggested mental illness was to be blamed for such incidents, not guns.
Last month, Trump’s suggestion to give guns to teachers was met with protests and criticism, with teachers and students across the country rallying against the idea, arguing more guns in schools won’t solve the United States’ gun violence epidemic.
However, the new gun proposal doesn't just talk about arming teachers but also plans to use Department of Justice funding to help states provide "rigorous" firearms training to “specially qualified” staff members on a voluntary basis.
The White House will also implore military veterans and retired law enforcement personnel to pursue "new careers in education."
“There are a multitude of programs that exist across the country where school personnel are trained in conjunction with law enforcement, so those are the types of programs that we will be looking at," explained a senior administration official.
It is important to mention the White House announced the gun proposal shortly after the NRA filed a federal lawsuit against the state of Florida for increasing the age limit for buying guns from 18 to 21 years and introduced a three-day waiting period.
The pro-gun lobby, which donated millions to Trump’s election campaign along with funding several other prominent Republican lawmakers, claimed the new Florida law, signed by Gov. Rick Scott, violated the Second and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution.
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Reuters, Mike Theiler