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Donald Trump's shifting stance on gun control leaves lawmakers befuddled, Washington baffled

Washington: In his quest to tackle gun violence, President Donald Trump has ricocheted between calling for tougher laws and declaring his fealty to the Second Amendment's right to bear arms, leaving a trail of befuddled lawmakers and advocates in his wake. One thing he still has not done: clearly outline his legislative priorities.

File image of US president Donald Trump. Reuters

File image of US president Donald Trump. Reuters

Washington's week closed without further explanation from the president, the White House indicating that for now, at least, he is backing an incremental proposal on background checks and a bill that would provide new federal dollars to stem school violence.

Just what Trump would like to see in the "beautiful" and "comprehensive" bill he called for earlier in the week remained unclear. That comment came at a bipartisan meeting with lawmakers Wednesday, which was quickly followed by a private session with the National Rifle Association on Thursday.

"Good (Great) meeting in the Oval Office tonight with the NRA!" Trump tweeted Thursday night. He had outlined some of his preferences via Twitter earlier Thursday, saying that both good and bad ideas had come out of the bipartisan meeting. He said: "Background Checks a big part of conversation. Gun free zones are proven targets of killers. After many years, a Bill should emerge. Respect 2nd Amendment!"

Amid the confusion, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has shelved the gun debate for now, saying the Senate will turn next week to other measures. Disagreement continues among legislators over the appropriate response after the Florida school shooting that left 17 dead. Republicans have largely backed away from stricter gun limits, while Democrats emboldened by Trump's rhetoric are pushing for ambitious action, including expanded background checks and even a politically risky ban on assault weapons.

As is often the case, the president has been an unreliable negotiator. White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said yesterday that Trump supports a limited proposal from Senator John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Murphy that would boost participation in the existing federal background check program, as well as a bill that would provide new federal grant funding to stem school violence.


Updated Date: Mar 03, 2018 16:06 PM

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