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Florida school shooting: Trump ‘supportive’ of better gun background checks

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Media captionWhat has Donald Trump said about guns and gun control?

US President Donald Trump supports efforts to improve background checks on gun ownership, the White House says.

He spoke with Republican Senator John Cornyn about a bipartisan bill that seeks to improve the checks in place before someone can buy a gun.

The suspect in last week’s Florida school shooting, in which 17 people died, bought his gun legally. Nikolas Cruz appeared in court on Monday.

Students from the school have demanded action on gun control.

“While discussions are ongoing and revisions are being considered, the president is supportive of efforts to improve the federal background check system,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said on Monday.

What checks are currently in place?

Federal licensed dealers must run checks on anyone trying to purchase a gun. A potential buyer presents identification and fills in a form with personal information and criminal history.

That information is then submitted to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), which processed more than 25 million applications last year.

But the system has holes because it relies on state and federal officials to report any criminal convictions and mental health issues that should legally stop someone buying a gun to NICS.

Its failings were put in the spotlight last year after the US Air Force admitted it had failed to flag a gunman’s domestic violence conviction before he shot dead 26 people at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

What changes are being proposed?

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Demonstrators held a “lie-in” protest supporting gun control reform outside the White House on Monday

After the Texas shooting, a bipartisan bill was introduced by Mr Cornyn and Democratic Senator and gun-control advocate Chris Murphy.

It would require federal agencies to better report background information thoroughly and accurately. It also proposed offering states financial incentives to do the same through a penalty and reward system.

At the time, Mr Cornyn presented it as a fix to a “nationwide, systematic problem”.

But it remains a proposal, and has not been passed by Congress.

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Media captionBarack Obama told the BBC in 2015 that gun control was the biggest frustration of his presidency

On Monday, Mr Murphy said the president’s support for the bill was “another sign the politics of gun violence are shifting rapidly”, but added that “no-one should pretend this bill alone is an adequate response to this epidemic.”

What does Trump think about gun control?

Mr Trump’s view on gun control has changed over time. He spoke out against gun control during the 2016 election race.

Last year the president told a National Rifle Association convention that he would “never, ever infringe” on the constitutional right to keep and bear arms.

Mr Trump has repeatedly emphasised the role of the shooter’s mental health for Florida’s school attack, but last year, he repealed an Obama-era rule that allowed certain people who receive mental health-related benefits to be entered on to the database.

Florida suspect Nikolas Cruz, 19, a former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, had been investigated by the authorities for posting disturbing content online, according to reports.

Survivors from the shooting have been vocal since Wednesday’s attack about the need for changes to existing laws around gun control.

One student, Emma Gonzalez, told the BBC that politicians were being handed a “blank slate” by the survivors.

“We are telling you to take this blank slate and make something with it. We are giving you the chance to get on the right side of this.”

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Media captionStudent to lawmakers “Shame on you”

Students have organised a march on Washington on 24 March, and want simultaneous demonstrations to happen nationally.

Other students across the US have also proposed other actions such as staging national school walk-outs.

On Saturday, Parkland students, their parents and some politicians took part in an emotionally charged rally in nearby Fort Lauderdale.

Mr Cruz appeared in court for the second time in Fort Lauderdale on Monday, charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.

He sat with his head bowed during the short hearing, and was remanded in custody without bail.

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