WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday urged a diverse group of lawmakers – some who want more gun restrictions, others averse to gun control – to come up with comprehensive legislation to prevent school shootings following the nation’s most recent massacre.
Trump has been considering changes for gun laws, pressured by a wave of student activism after 17 people were shot to death at a high school in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14.
The Republican president, endorsed by the powerful gun lobby National Rifle Association in his 2016 campaign, has been wary of angering voters who oppose any curbs on gun ownership, particularly ahead of the November elections in which his party’s control of Congress will be at stake.
But on Wednesday, at the start of the fourth free-flowing gun policy discussion he has had in a week, Trump pushed Congress to come up with solutions.
“We’re going to come up with some ideas,” he said. “Hopefully we can put those ideas in a very bipartisan bill. It would be so beautiful to have one bill that everybody can support, as opposed to – you know – 15 bills, everybody’s got their own bill.”
Seven senators and representatives were invited to Wednesday’s session, a mix of Republicans and Democrats espousing a wide spectrum of views on how to stop school shootings.
Previous discussions – all open to television cameras – included students and parents, law enforcement officials, and state governors. Trump also met privately with top officials from the NRA and has suggested training and arming some teachers.
On Wednesday, the discussion included Republican Senators John Cornyn of Texas and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, who have proposed legislation to fix holes in the background check system for gun buyers, and their Democratic co-sponsors.
Trump has backed Cornyn’s bill but has been silent on other background check proposals. He urged senators to add more items to the bill to make it more comprehensive.
Reporting by Roberta Rampton, Ayesha Rascoe, Susan Cornwell and Richard Cowan; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Bill Trott