Trump Move On Background Checks Disappoints Both Sides in WNY

Pres. Wants To Beef Up Gun Purchases Screening Database

Dave Debo
February 20, 2018 - 6:40 am

FBI Photo


(WBEN/AP) In a compromise move that leaves local gun rights advocates and those who are pressing for more gun control  both unhappy,  President Donald Trump offered support Monday for an effort to strengthen the federal gun background check system.

He stopped short of any broader move on gun control, but said he would support a range of incentives to make sure that the criminal database used to screen people for gun purchases includes as much data as possible.  The bipartisan background check legislation would be aimed at insuring that federal agencies and states accurately report relevant criminal information to the FBI, but would not expand the number of sales for which a check is needed. 

"Actually I don't think that helps much ...," says Paul McQuillen, the Buffalo area representative for New Yorkers against Gun Violence. " Until we such time as we have universal background checks, which is background checks at gun sales, background checks for secondary and tertiary (person-to person sales without a dealer) , the background check system falls far short of its intended goal." 

And Miguel Rivera, a retired Buffalo Police range instructor who runs Rivera Investigations, says the move isn't hitting the right marks either.

"There's not a pill or a quick remedy or a Band-Aid we can put over things to fix it. ," says Rivera, a guns rights advocate who wants a broader approach.   "There's a multitude of things we need to do (to deter schools shootings.) You need more counseling and you need increased security as well, " Rivera says, 

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. The bill would penalize federal agencies that fail to provide the necessary records and reward states that comply with federal grant preferences and other incentives.

"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.

 After last year's church shootings in Sulphur Spring Texas, it was revealed that a domestic violence charge against accused shooter Devin Kelley was not reported by The US Air Force and therefore didn't become a disqualifying factor when he obtained his guns.  The bill would penalize federal agencies that fail to provide the necessary records and reward states that comply with federal grant preferences and other incentives.

The White House statement comes as shooting survivors and other young people press for more gun control in a rising chorus of grief and activism. Their "March for Our Lives" is planned March 24 in Washington.

Related: Student Walkouts Planned In Wake of Mass Shootings

FBI VIDEO: Background Checks Explained:

The President remains a supporter of gun rights, and the move on background checks is his first major shift on the issue.  Prior to this, the main action Trump has taken on guns in office has been to sign a resolution blocking an Obama-era rule designed to keep guns out of the hands of certain mentally disabled people. The president has voiced strong support for gun rights and the National Rifle Association.

LIVE FROM THE WHITE HOUSE:  Hear Reporter Karen Travers

Trump, who visited first responders and some victims Friday, has focused his comments on mental health, rather than guns. The White House says the president will host a "listening session" with students and teachers this week and will discuss school safety with state and local officials. But they have offered no further details on who will attend those sessions.

RELATED: Large majorities of Americans say neither President Donald Trump nor Congress are doing enough to try to prevent mass shootings like the one that took 17 lives in Parkland, Florida, last week, with improved mental health screening and treatment leading the public’s preferences for action.

Most in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll, 58 percent, say stricter gun laws could have prevented the Valentine’s Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. But which laws remains an open question: A ban on assault weapons still splits the country evenly, with no change from 2016.    See PDF for full results, charts and tables.

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