4 things Donald Trump is doing to loosen gun laws in the U.S.
Gun regulations in the United States are facing renewed scrutiny in the aftermath of a mass shooting in Las Vegas last weekend, which left 58 dead and more than 500 injured.
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The deadliest attack of its kind in modern U.S. history has prompted a slew of questions over how the president intends to address the issue of gun control. U.S. President Donald Trump, however, has remained largely mum on the issue.
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The administration has insisted that it’s too soon after the tragedy to talk about gun laws. On Tuesday, the president told reporters that he will “be talking about gun laws as time goes by.”
But the Republican president has already made several changes to gun control policies since taking office, reversing some rules that the Obama administration instated.
Here’s a look at some notable changes Trump has made so far:
Mental health checks more difficult
Just weeks after he became president, Trump signed a bill making it easier for those with mental health conditions to access guns. The law reversed one that Obama signed in December, which added people receiving Social Security mental health checks, and those considered unable to handle their own finances, to the national background-check database.
Trump’s Feb. 28 bill prohibits the Social Security Administration from adding information about such individuals to the database.
The move was done quietly, The Washington Post reports, with many advocacy groups of gun control unaware of the changes until later.
Jooyoung Lee, a University of Toronto associate professor of sociology who studies gun violence, said the reversal of Obama’s law is one way the president is trying to weaken gun control.
“This is one example of Trump and Republicans trying to weaken just very common sense laws.”
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Definition of ‘fugitive’ changed
The Trump Administration also narrowed the definition of “fugitive” to allow more people with outstanding arrest warrants to purchase guns.
Under this new definition, gun sales can only be blocked for fugitives that have fled from the state where their arrest warrant was issued. Before this, the FBI prohibited anyone with an outstanding arrest warrant from buying guns.
The changes were applauded by the National Rifle Association (NRA) in a February press release.
“Today marks a new era for law-abiding gun owners, as we now have a president who respects and supports our right to keep and bear arms,” NRA’s executive director, Chris W. Cox, said.
Lee explained such statement are how the NRA justifies its purpose.
“It’s a constant process of the NRA, congressmen, and Trump himself, trying to equate any kind of regulation with a loss of freedom,” he said.
Hunting grounds expanded
In August, the Trump administration announced it would expand hunting grounds in the United States to include “national parks and public lands for hunting, fishing, and recreation.”
The Interior Department, which oversees wildlife and national parks, signed the order in September. The paper expressed the desire to have more Americans hunting and fishing.
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“In addition, this Order gives greater priority to recruiting and retaining sportsmen and women conservationists, with an emphasis on engaging youth, veterans, minorities, and underserved communities that traditionally have low participation in outdoor recreation activities,” it read.
“I think it’s a move that will play well with [Trump’s] base,” Lee noted, explaining why the Trump administration would want to expand hunting.
“I think a lot of people see him as a clown, but I think he’s pretty savvy. He knows how to appeal to [his base].”
Legislation on gun silencers, carrying concealed firearms
Another bill to loosen gun control was scheduled to appear at the U.S. House of Representatives, but will be delayed in the aftermath of Las Vegas.
The bill seeks to ease restrictions on purchasing gun silencers, and allow Americans to carry concealed firearms across state borders.
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Lee explained that if a silencer had been used in the Las Vegas mass shooting, it would have been more difficult to track the location of the shooter.
“If the shooter had a silencer, it would have made the kill count higher.”
It’s unclear if and when the bill will appear in the House now, Politico reported.
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