What do you think? Leave a respectful comment.

Trump defends reversal on gun purchase age limit as White House forms school safety commission

President Trump unveiled his plan for school safety and gun violence, dialing back an earlier call he made to raise the age limit for buying some guns. Instead it includes support for a number of more modest measures, including fixes to the current background check system and arms training for educators, and creates a national commission to review other possibilities. John Yang reports.

Read the Full Transcript

  • Judy Woodruff:

    The president unveiled his plan of action today for school safety and dealing with gun violence. It includes his support for a number of more modest measures. And it will create a national commission that will review other possible actions.

    But it was criticized for not going far enough. President Trump dialed back an earlier and stronger call he had made to raise the age limit for buying some guns.

    John Yang has our report.

  • Betsy DeVos:

    Everybody is on the table.

  • John Yang:

    The head of the new commission, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, said this morning the focus would go beyond just gun control.

  • Betsy DeVos:

    There are a number of issues on the table now that can be passed and implemented quickly and surely, and the president has urged Congress to do those things.

  • John Yang:

    The administration's proposals includes backing the so-called Fix NICS bill, which seeks to improve National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS. It wouldn't expand background checks, but would require states and federal agencies to make sure information is in the system.

    The White House also called for expanding mental health treatment to better identify students who could become violent, and working with states to provide weapons training for teachers.

    President Trump seemed to retreat from his call to increase the age to buy assault-style rifles from 18 to 21, a point he had made repeatedly in recent weeks.

  • President Donald Trump:

    We're going to work on getting the age up to 21, instead of 18. It doesn't make sense that I have to wait until I'm 21 to get a handgun, but I can get this weapon at 18.

  • John Yang:

    During a session with lawmakers last month, he pressed Republican Senator Pat Toomey on why it wasn't in his comprehensive background check bill.

  • Sen. Pat Toomey:

    We didn't we didn't address it, Mr. President. But I think we…

  • President Donald Trump:

    You know why? Because you're afraid of the NRA, right? I'm a big fan of the NRA. They want to do right. These are great people. These are great patriots. They love our country. But that doesn't mean we have to agree on everything.

  • John Yang:

    The president's reversal comes after he met with NRA leaders after meeting with lawmakers.

    This morning, Mr. Trump defended his shift, saying he is "Watching court cases and rulings before acting. States are making this decision. Things are moving rapidly on this, but not much political support, to put it mildly."

    On the CBS News' 60 Minutes last night, DeVos said there was no one-size-fits-all solution and said no teacher would be forced to carry a weapon.

  • Betsy DeVos:

    I hesitate to think of, like, my first-grade teacher, Mrs. Zorhoff. I couldn't ever imagine her having a gun and being trained in that way. But for those who are — who are capable, this is one solution that can and should be considered.

  • John Yang:

    At a rally in Pennsylvania on Saturday night, President Trump slammed commissions.

  • President Donald Trump:

    We can't just keep setting up blue-ribbon committees, with your wife and your wife and your husband, and they meet and they have a meal, and all they talk, talk, talk, talk.

  • John Yang:

    And then, the very next night, his administration announced one. The panel has no deadline for its work, but the White House said its recommendations would be ready within a year.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I'm John Yang.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And we will look at the president's proposals at length after this news summary.

Listen to this Segment

The Latest