World

Trump backs improved background checks on gun buys

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump signalled support on Monday for improving background gun checks amid mounting pressure for reform in the wake of the Florida school shooting, as the accused gunman appeared in court.

Nikolas Cruz, charged with killing 17 people, sat silently with his head bowed during a procedural hearing in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in what is expected to be a lengthy and emotional prosecution.

Last Wednesday's rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in nearby Parkland, Florida, has ignited protests by students who survived the onslaught and renewed calls for changes in US gun laws.

Cruz, 19, was able to legally buy an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle despite numerous red flags that nonetheless failed to prompt action by state and federal agencies.

In fact, Cruz actually had bought seven rifles and had access to another three, according to several US media outlets, quoting law enforcement sources.

The White House indicated that Mr Trump is receptive to a bipartisan proposal that would require more prompt reporting to a national database of offences that would bar an individual from buying a firearm.

"While discussions are ongoing and revisions are being considered, the President is supportive of efforts to improve the federal background check system," White House spokesman Sarah Sanders said in a statement.

The legislation, however, does not address the broader, divisive issue of permissive gun laws under the Second Amendment of the US Constitution, which protects the right to bear arms.

After earlier mass shootings, Mr Trump has said little about guns, focusing instead on the mental health of shooters. - AFP

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