An Overview of the Gun Policies Floated After The Florida Shooting

After the mass shooting that left 17 people dead in Florida, politicians and companies unloaded a series of proposals for preventing similar incidents.

While politicians have previously pushed gun control proposals, the Florida shooting seemed to reinvigorate widespread calls for legislation. The White House, controlled by the Second Amendment-supporting president, even offered its own version of gun control to match Democrats’.

Raising the Minimum Age of Purchase From 18 to 21 Years of Age

During a meeting with a bipartisan group of lawmakers on Wednesday, President Donald Trump pressed politicians to consider raising the age at which individuals can buy assault weapons.

That proposal seemed to have the best chance of passing Congress, as a bipartisan group of senators, led by longtime gun control advocate Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), introduced a bill that would shift the age requirement from 18 to 21 years old.

“If you can’t buy a beer, you shouldn’t be able to buy a weapon of war,” Feinstein said. Trump, during his Wednesday meeting, similarly ridiculed the fact that an 18-year-old could buy the type of weapon Florida shooter Nikolas Cruz used but couldn’t buy a handgun until 21.

The proposal also attracted support from Dick’s Sporting Goods, which said it would require someone to be 21 years old before purchasing a firearm.

The company called on legislators to follow its lead and raise the minimum wage in addition to banning bump stocks, conducting broader background checks, and banning assault-type weapons.

Trump suspected that this proposal could get pushback from the National Rifle Association (NRA), but he claimed he wasn’t afraid to challenge them.

Banning Bump Stocks

After 64-year-old Stephen Paddock unleashed a torrent of rapid-fire on concertgoers in Las Vegas last year, many wondered how he could have achieved such speed without fully automatic weapons.

Paddock reportedly used a device known as a bump stock, which, when attached to his semi-automatic weapons, allowed him to fire at the rate of a fully automatic weapon.

A bump stock sits on a gunman’s shoulder and allows the firearm to move back and forth more quickly, effectively harnessing the weapon’s recoil. Paddock was able to use this device to kill nearly 60 people and injure hundreds more in October.

While a potential ban started to gain traction after the Vegas shooting, Congress never officially banned the device.

But a ban, as Attorney General Jeff Sessions suggested, may not have to come from Congress.

“Our top people in the Department of Justice have believed for some time that we can through regulatory process not allow the bump stock to convert a weapon from a semi-automatic to a fully automatic,” Sessions said Tuesday.

Sessions’ announcement came after the president issued a memo directing Sessions to push for a ban on the device even though Cruz didn’t use it during his rampage in Florida.

Beefing Up School Security, Arming Teachers and School Employees

In order to counter calls for gun control, gun rights advocates often deride so-called “gun-free zones” and argue that people can’t defend themselves or deter shooters without firearms of their own.

After the Florida shooting, Trump similarly endorsed letting teachers carry concealed firearms:

The NRA similarly offered its “School Shield” program, which would arm select school employees and instruct school resources officers on how to respond to crisis situations, as a potential solution.

Judge Jeanine Pirro, a Fox News host reportedly seen by the president as a “wartime ally,” similarly called for armed teachers but added that schools should have metal detectors and experienced cops as well:

It’s unclear whether this type of proposal will be able to pass Congress since House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said he preferred state and local officials to decide whether or not to arm teachers.

Enhancing Background Checks

Although the United States already requires background checks on individuals purchasing firearms, Democrats and some Republicans have called for enhancements.

Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) failed to expand background checks after the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 but made a renewed push for their legislation after Florida.

Background checks, under their legislation, would cover online sales and gun show purchases. Although the White House refused to officially back the Manchin-Toomey bill, Trump said he would pursue background check changes:

Background checks became an issue last year after a Texas shooting involving a man whose criminal record the Air Force neglected to report to the FBI, which houses the federal background check system.

In response to that shooting, Ryan suggested the solution wasn’t more gun reforms but just “enforcing the laws we got on the books.”

After the Florida shooting, Ryan similarly said the answer wasn’t banning guns but focusing on background checks that would keep firearms away from the wrong people.

Banning Assault Weapons

Democrats have long followed mass shootings by calling for assault weapons bans, and their Florida shooting response was no different.

This week, Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) reportedly introduced a ban on the sale, importation, transfer, and production of assault weapons.

While congressional Republicans will most likely oppose a ban, Feinstein renewed her call for one.

Feinstein failed to pass an assault weapons ban in 2017 after the mass shooting that left 26 people dead in Texas. She tried passing another in 2013 and blamed the NRA for Congress’ failure to reauthorize a ban in 2004.

Banning or Limiting High-Capacity Magazines

Previous shootings have prompted some to consider limiting the amount of bullets shooters can have readily available via magazines.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) recently said he was reconsidering limiting magazine size because although it wouldn’t prevent shootings, “it may save lives in an attack.”

Cicilline’s bill also bans high-capacity magazines, according to The Providence Journal.

Amid the various ideas, the White House said it would release specific proposals this week.

“The number one thing we’re looking at is every possible action that we can take that helps protect the safety and security of school kids across this country,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday.

“We’re going to look at everything we can,” she added.

Trump will likely at least propose the higher minimum purchase age and could face backlash from the NRA and his allies in Congress.

But as the president noted, he’s not afraid to challenge the organization.

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