Trump backs efforts to bolster FBI gun checks


WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — President Donald Trump offered support Monday for an effort to strengthen the federal gun background check system as he hunkered down at his private Florida golf course just 40 miles from last week’s deadly school shooting.

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the president spoke on Friday to Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, about a bipartisan bill designed to strengthen the FBI database of prohibited gun buyers.

“While discussions are ongoing and revisions are being considered, the President is supportive of efforts to improve the Federal background check system,” Sanders said in a statement.

Trump, who is spending the weekend at his private Palm Beach estate, started President’s Day at his nearby golf club. The White House did not immediately answer questions about whether he was playing golf. The president spent most of the weekend at Mar-a-Lago, as White House aides advised against golfing too soon after the shooting at a Parkland high school that left 17 dead.

Trump spent much of the holiday weekend watching cable television news and grousing to club members and advisers about the investigation of Russian election meddling.

In a marathon series of furious weekend tweets from Mar-a-Lago, Trump vented about Russia, raging at the FBI for what he perceived to be a fixation on the Russia investigation at the cost of failing to deter the attack on a Florida high school. He made little mention of the nearby school shooting victims and the escalating gun control debate.

Surviving students have called for tougher gun control and are planning a march in Washington next month. Trump has focused his comments on mental health, rather than guns.

The White House said Sunday the president will host a “listening session” with students and teachers this week, but offered no details on who would attend or what would be discussed.

The bipartisan background check legislation would be aimed at ensuring that federal agencies and states accurately report relevant criminal information to the FBI. It was introduced after the Air Force failed to report the criminal history of the gunman who slaughtered more than two dozen people at a Texas church.

Trump has been a strong supporter of gun rights and the National Rifle Association. Last year, he signed a resolution blocking an Obama-era rule designed to keep guns out of the hands of certain mentally disabled people.

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