Trump bans bump stocks

With teenagers walking out of schools in protest, staging die-ins in front of the White House, and planning a major national march next month in an effort to force America's adults to focus on gun control, U.S. President Donald Trump has announced support for some modest reforms.

The president announced Tuesday a ban on the so-called bump stocks that transform a semi-automatic weapon into a de-facto machine gun. Trump said his officials were already examining the issue since last year's Las Vegas shooting, and have now concluded it's legal to make the change via presidential order.

The massacre at a Florida high school last week has unleashed a burst of political energy for an American gun-control cause that has suffered perennial disappointment, with this latest tragedy bringing young people to the streets amid strong public support for change.

"(We will) ban all devices that turn legal weapons into machine guns," Trump said after signing his presidential order instructing Attorney General Jeff Sessions to draw up new bump-stock rules.

"I expect that this critical regulation will be finalized ... very soon."

Trump has also announced plans to meet at the White House with school-shooting survivors and law enforcement over the course of the week to discuss possible solutions in the wake of the Florida massacre.

In addition, he has expressed support for expanded background checks to purchase firearms. Some Republicans are talking about introducing such legislation, although it could face a difficult slog in Congress.

But the limits of political movement on the issue were illustrated by other events Tuesday.

Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School looked on as the Florida state legislature easily voted down a motion to consider a wider ban on assault weapons, including the AR-15 rifle used to kill 17 people at their school on Valentine's Day.

The students' vocal public advocacy following the shooting has sustained a conversation, which in the wake of past atrocities has tended to flare for a few days then dissipate into the background noise of America's myriad other national debates.

A new poll now suggests especially high support for reforms.

A Quinnipiac University survey found 66 per cent support for stricter gun laws, and 67 per cent support for a ban on so-called assault weapons. The numbers are even higher for targeted measures: 83 per cent of respondents favoured a waiting period to purchase firearms, and a near-unanimous 97 per cent said they supported an expansion of background checks to purchase a firearm.

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