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President Trump Seeks to Raise Age for Rifle Purchases

The president spoke with bipartisan lawmakers Thursday to discuss priorities he intends to push to prevent gun violence.

Posted: Feb 28, 2018 3:40 PM

(ABC) The Trump administration plans to unveil as soon as Thursday a list of more than 10 administrative and legislative priorities the president intends to champion in an effort to help prevent gun violence in schools, including a call to raise the age limit on all gun purchases to 21, White House officials tell ABC News.

Among the proposals the White House is expected to support are two pieces of preexisting legislation aimed at strengthening the background check system and aiding states in detecting and reporting potential threats to schools, and a regulation requiring states to report to the federal government school districts' compliance with emergency preparedness drills.

The administration is also expected to formally call on states to "empower" trained teachers to carry concealed firearms, an idea about which the president has been the most enthusiastic in the wake of the Parkland shooting.

Administration officials said that raising the age limit on all gun purchases to 21 was not originally included on a draft list of White House priorities but that President Trump specifically told staff on Wednesday to add it in. Trump has called it "common sense" to raise the age minimum for rifle purchases from 18 to 21, in line with the existing restriction for handgun purchases.

It's unclear whether the president will push for legislation to enact new age limits. The shooter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., who killed 17 this month legally purchased an assault-style rifle at 19 years old.

The raising the age for rifle purchases has been a flashpoint inside the West Wing after both the National Rifle Association and a number of top Republican lawmakers came out strongly opposed. Even Trump has publicly seemed conflicted about the idea after first floating it: He did not promote it publicly Tuesday, and the White House said he did not discuss it over lunch with the NRA, which has forcefully spoken against the change.

"I'm the one bringing it up. People aren't bringing it up because they're afraid to bring it up," Trump told lawmakers of the proposed age limit changes during a meeting Wednesday with bipartisan lawmakers on guns. "You can't buy a handgun at 18, 19 or 20. You have to wait until you're 21. You could buy the weapon used in this horrible shooting at 18. You are going to decide, the people in this room pretty much, are going to decide. I would give very serious thought to it."

"I'm a big fan of the NRA. These are great people. Great patriots. They love our country but that doesn't mean we have to agree on everything," Trump added. "It doesn't make sense that I have to wait till I'm 21 to get a handgun but I can get this weapon at 18."

Under pressure from students and families to take action, the White House is preparing to release on Thursday the formal blueprint of reforms that the president supports to try and curb gun violence at schools.

Also on the list of Trump administration priorities expected to be unveiled, according to administration officials:

-Empower highly trained teachers to conceal carry -Improve National Instant Check System (NICS) -Reform FBI programs to improve response to tips - Support HR 4909 STOP Act - Require States to report school districts' compliance with State emergency preparedness activities - Develop and issue model State legislation Extreme Risk Protection Orders - Expand access to programs that treat mental illness - Direct DHS to expand 'see something, say something' - Implement the Troops to Education program to help employ military veterans to be teachers - Establish a federal task force to address school safety

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