On the heels of Wednesday’s shooting at a Parkland, Fla. high school, the White House signaled support for bipartisan legislation intended to improve background checks for firearm purchases.
In a Sunday night statement, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said the president contacted Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) about a bill that would force states to send information to the National Instant Background Check System (NICS), Fox News reported.
Statement from Sarah Huckabee Sanders to WH press pool about the president's alleged support of "efforts to improve" background checks for potential gun owners: pic.twitter.com/38elUhbZlO
— Olivia Nuzzi (@Olivianuzzi) February 19, 2018
“While discussions are ongoing and revisions are being considered, the president is supportive of efforts to improve the federal background check system,” a statement from Sanders read.
The bill was introduced in November by Cornyn, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).
The senators originally presented the bill as a response to the November shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas–a tragedy that left 26 dead.
The Trump administration has asked that the Senate review the bill again in light of last week’s mass shooting, in which fourteen students and three staff members were killed at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
According to The Hill, the Cornyn-Murphy bill would require states and agencies to devise plans for sending records to NICS that would allow government administrators to see information confirming whether an individual is prohibited from purchasing firearms.
The measure would motivate/reward states that follow their plans, and punish agencies that fail to comply by blocking bonus pay for their political appointees.
In the November shooting, perpetrator Devin Patrick Kelley had a domestic abuse-related bad conduct discharge from the Air Force, which should have prevented him from legally purchasing guns.
The Air Force’s failure to relay the court martial convictions to the FBI allowed Kelley to bypass federal law.
Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old suspect in the Stoneman Douglas shooting, legally purchased the AR-15 style rifle he used in the attack from a local gun store, the Miami Herald reported.
Police visited Cruz’s home 39 times since 2010 for a variety of reports, including domestic disturbance and child/elderly abuse.
Many of the teenager’s peers described him as a “loner” who had the potential of becoming a school shooter.
Additionally, the FBI in September briefly investigated a Youtube user named “Nikolas Cruz” for commenting on a video that he was “going to be a professional school shooter.” The Bureau did not pursue the case after it was unable to identify the user.
President Trump, who visited Florida after the shooting last week, noted on Twitter that there were “signs” Cruz, who was suspended from Stoneman Douglas for disciplinary reasons, was mentally disturbed.
So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from school for bad and erratic behavior. Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 15, 2018