White House Says Raising Age for Gun Purchases Still on Table

Proposal unveiled over the weekend insufficient, Democrats Charge

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos will head a commission to study violence in schools. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump has not abandoned his support of setting the age at which individuals can buy AR-15s and similar assault rifles at 21, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Monday.

Rather, that proposal and other gun-related proposals he has embraced since the Valentine’s Day massacre at a Florida high school are up for review via a commission headed by newly embattled Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Sanders said.

She described the anti-school violence actions and proposals the White House rolled out Sunday evening as ones that can be implemented quickly or have bipartisan support. Those include using federal funding to provide teachers firearm training and the creation of the DeVos commission. 

The administration said the president wants Congress to send him two measures. Those include a bill by Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Christopher S. Murphy, D-Conn., that would enforce existing law related to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System had 60 additional co-sponsors.

The second is a bill by Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, that would provide federal grant funding to train teachers in identifying threats, technology such as door locks and metal detectors, and development of threat assessment teams.

Watch: Bipartisan Duo Looks to New Gun-Control Measure

Others, like the higher assault rifle-purchasing age, Sanders said, will be explored by the DeVos panel to identify possible ways to make them policy — either at the federal or local levels.

Democrats say the proposals rolled out over the weekend by the White House were insufficient to the challenges ahead. 

“The White House has taken tiny baby steps designed not to upset the NRA, when the gun violence epidemic in this country demands that giant steps be taken. Democrats in the Senate will push to go further including passing universal background checks, actual federal legislation on protection orders, and a debate on banning assault weapons,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement. 

“It is disappointing to see President Trump lose sight of the commonsense, bipartisan gun violence prevention measures that could save lives across America,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi seconded in a statement. 

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.