Trump backs ban on ‘bump stocks’ on semi-automatic weapons

U.S. President Donald Trump talks about banning devices that can be attached to semiautomatic guns to make them automatic, during a Public Safety Medal of Valor Awards Ceremony at the White House in Washington, U.S., on Tuesday. (REUTERS)
Updated 21 February 2018
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Trump backs ban on ‘bump stocks’ on semi-automatic weapons

WASHINGTON: Faced with an outpouring of grief and anger over a deadly school shooting in Florida, US President Donald Trump on Tuesday threw his support behind moves to ban “bump stocks” — an accessory that can turn a semi-automatic weapon into an automatic one.
Trump also said school safety was a “top priority” for his administration and he would be holding meetings on the subject this week and also next week, when he meets with governors from all 50 US states.
Calls to ban bump stocks have been mounting since Stephen Paddock, a retired accountant, used them on several of his weapons to kill 58 concertgoers in Las Vegas in October 2017 in the deadliest mass shooting in recent US history.
Although the former student who shot dead 17 people in Florida last week did not have bump stocks on his gun, there has been a renewed focus on the devices because outlawing them is a rare point of agreement between Democrats, some Republicans and the powerful National Rifle Association (NRA) gun lobby.
Trump — who received strong backing from the NRA during his White House run — said he had signed a memorandum “directing the attorney general to propose regulations to ban all devices that turn legal weapons into machine guns.”
He said he expected them to be finalized “very soon.”

“We cannot merely take actions that make us feel like we are making a difference,” Trump said at a White House event to honor 12 Americans for heroism. “We must actually make a difference.
“We must move past cliches and tired debates and focus on evidence-based solutions and security measures that actually work,” he said. “We must do more to protect our children.”
Trump said he would meet this week with students, local leaders, and members of law enforcement to develop “concrete steps” to “secure our schools, safeguard our students, and protect our communities.”
“This includes implementing common sense security measures and addressing mental health issues,” he said, “including better coordination between federal and state law enforcement to take swift action when there are warning signs.”
Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz, 19, had a history of troubling behavior and a person close to him warned the FBI five weeks before the shooting that he was a threat — but no action was taken.

Cruz legally bought the gun he used in the attack — an AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle — and the White House said Tuesday it would consider raising the age for such purchases.
“I think that’s certainly something that’s on the table for us to discuss and that we expect to come up over the next couple of weeks,” spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters.
About 100 students at the Parkland high school where the shooting took place on February 14 were heading meanwhile to Tallahassee, the Florida state capital, to call for stricter gun control at a rally Wednesday.
Many of the students who survived the shooting have vowed to make the tragedy a turning point in America’s deadlocked debate on gun control.
They are planning a march on Washington next month and on Tuesday, they earned $1 million in pledges from Hollywood A-listers George Clooney and his human rights lawyer wife Amal, and Oprah Winfrey.
The “March for Our Lives” is scheduled to take place on March 24, with sister rallies planned across the country.
“Amal and I are so inspired by the courage and eloquence of these young men and women from Stoneman Douglas High School,” Clooney said in a statement, pledging $500,000 to help fund the event.
“Our family will be there on March 24 to stand side by side with this incredible generation of young people from all over the country.”
Winfrey then tweeted: “George and Amal, I couldn’t agree with you more. I am joining forces with you and will match your $500,000 donation.”
The US Congress is deadlocked on the gun debate, accomplishing nothing since the October shooting in Vegas.
Americans support stricter gun laws by a 66 percent to 31 percent margin, according to a poll released on Tuesday by Quinnipiac University.
It described the margin as “the highest level of support” for stricter gun control since it began surveys on the question in 2008.


Supreme Court nominee accuser agrees to testify before US Senate

According to President Trump, the fact that Ford remained silent until now shows the incident probably never happened. (AP)
Updated 23 September 2018
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Supreme Court nominee accuser agrees to testify before US Senate

  • Christine Blasey Ford’s decision followed days of negotiations and came after Trump turned against her and said her accusation could not be true
  • Ford alleges that Kavanaugh drunkenly assaulted her at a party when he was 17, she was 15 and they were attending private schools outside Washington in the 1980s

WASHINGTON: The woman whose sexual assault allegation threatens to bring down President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee has agreed to testify in the Senate, her lawyers said Saturday, setting up a dramatic showdown next week.
Christine Blasey Ford’s decision followed days of negotiations and came after Trump turned against her and said her accusation could not be true.
Ford “accepts the committee’s request to provide her first-hand knowledge of Brett Kavanaugh’s sexual misconduct next week,” said a message from her lawyers to the Senate Judiciary Committee, US media reported.
Hours later, multiple outlets including Politico and The Daily Beast reported the hearing would take place on Thursday, citing sources familiar with a phone call between the committee and Ford’s lawyers.
The tentative deal capped a day of frenetic developments, with time running out for Trump to get his hand-picked conservative judge confirmed — thereby tilting the Supreme Court firmly to the right for years to come — before November elections when Republicans risk losing control of Congress.
Earlier, the panel had given the California professor until 2:30 p.m. (1830 GMT) to decide whether to appear, after she rejected a Friday evening deadline imposed by the committee’s Republican leader, Chuck Grassley.
“Although many aspects of the proposal you provided via email, on (Friday) are fundamentally inconsistent with the committee’s promise of a fair, impartial investigation into her allegations, and we are disappointed with the leaks and the bullying that have tainted the process, we are hopeful that we can reach agreement on details,” read the lawyers’ letter cited by The Washington Post.
The White House criticized Ford for allegedly dithering. “But one thing has remained consistent: Brett Kavanaugh remains ready, willing and eager to testify as soon as possible,” it added.

Ford alleges that Kavanaugh drunkenly assaulted her at a party when he was 17, she was 15 and they were attending private schools outside Washington in the 1980s.
Kavanaugh denies knowledge of any such assault and wants to give his side of the story to the committee.
Grassley had wanted the hearing to take place on Wednesday, but Ford asked that it be held on Thursday at the earliest and to be able to call as a witness a man she says was present during the assault.
The committee’s Republican leadership turned down those demands.
After several days of maintaining a relatively neutral posture, Trump on Friday declared that Ford was lying.
“TAKE THE VOTE!” Trump tweeted, blaming “radical left wing politicians” for the controversy.

According to Trump, the fact that Ford remained silent until now shows the incident probably never happened — even if this runs counter to what experts say is the typical reaction of sexual assault victims afraid or too embarrassed to report.
“I have no doubt that, if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says,” Trump tweeted, “charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents.”
The senior senator for Trump’s Democratic foes, Chuck Schumer, called the president’s logic a “highly offensive misunderstanding of surviving trauma,” while Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein said: “We must treat sexual assault survivors with respect, not bully or try to silence them.”
Even one of Trump’s own Republican senators, Susan Collins — who sits on the Judiciary Committee — said she was “appalled by the president’s tweet.”
“We know that allegations of sexual assault are some of the most under-reported crimes that exist,” Collins said.
Trump’s outburst saw a new #MeToo era hashtag storm the Internet, with people — mostly women — sharing why they did not report being assaulted under the Twitter hashtag #WhyIDidntReport.
Ford told the Post she went public with her claims because she felt her “civic responsibility” was “outweighing my anguish and terror about retaliation” after the basic outlines of the story emerged in the media.
Ford’s husband, Russell Ford, was quoted by the Post as saying the thought that Kavanaugh could be considered for the Supreme Court after Trump took office troubled his wife so much that she considered moving as far away as New Zealand.
“She was like, ‘I can’t deal with this,’” Russell Ford said. “’I cannot live in this country if he’s in the Supreme Court.’“
Republicans are frustrated over what they say was the deliberate timing of the last-minute revelation of Ford’s allegation, accusing Democrats of seeking to prevent the process from finishing before the midterm elections in a few weeks.
For their part, Democrats say Republicans are mounting an unseemly rush to get Kavanaugh into the nine-member Supreme Court while they still control the legislature.
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