In the wake of last week’s tragic shooting at a Florida high school, the national narrative has centered on guns. Democrats mostly argue for increased gun control measures, while Second Amendment advocates mostly oppose any new restrictions.
The debate usually dies quickly after a shooting, but it has remained strong over the last week. Now, even President Donald Trump is reportedly considering new restrictions on firearms.
No. 1: Raising the purchase age for certain firearms
Axios reported Wednesday that Trump has privately discussed supporting a measure that would raise the purchase age for semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21.
Currently, any 18-year-old who is lawfully able to purchase and possess a firearm can purchase a rifle or shotgun, including the controversial AR-15. Federal law requires a citizen to be 21 before purchasing a handgun.
According to the Washington Post, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed Tuesday the option is “on the table for us to discuss.”
What’s not clear is if Trump would advocate for new age restrictions at the federal level or if he would encourage state legislators to make the change.
No. 2: Increased background checks
On Tuesday, Trump tweeted his support for “strengthening” the background check system.
Whether we are Republican or Democrat, we must now focus on strengthening Background Checks!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 21, 2018
Currently, federal law stipulates that any person purchasing a weapon from a federally licensed firearms dealer must have their background checked through the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which takes just minutes. The system merely checks a person’s legal eligibility to purchase a firearm and no mental health evaluation occurs.
However, for private transactions in most states, which are a small share of all gun sales, no background check is required for long guns or handguns. Still, many states like North Carolina require a pistol permit or concealed carry license for private handgun transactions.
It’s not clear what improvements would be made to the NICS system.
No. 3: Ban bump stocks
A bump stock is an inexpensive device that helps a shooter fire a standard semi-automatic rifle more rapidly, which makes the firearm behave more like a fully-automatic weapon. A bump stock was reportedly used in the Las Vegas massacre last year. The devices don’t actually make semi-automatic rifles fully-automatic, but they use recoil to increase the rate at which the trigger is pulled.
Trump said at the White House on Tuesday that he has instructed Attorney General Jeff Sessions to pursue legislation that outlaws the devices.
“We cannot merely take actions that make us feel like we are making a difference. We must actually make a difference,” Trump said, according to the New York Times.
Why is this time different?
America has seen more than a dozen tragic mass shootings over the last few years and little has been done to prevent the next one. But this time appears to be different.
Most people are split over what to actually do and whether or not increased gun restrictions would prevent the next mass shooting remains to be seen. But the difference this time appears to lie with the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, who have been very outspoken about the need for gun control since the shooting.
Their dialogue has even sparked a CNN town hall, which will include the Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and National Rifle Association spokeswoman Dana Loesch.
Even Trump, seems to agree with the kids’ sentiment. “We have to do something. We’ve got kids dying,” he reportedly said during a private meeting on guns, according to Axios.