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Trump Meets With Governors, Discusses Guns And DACA Program


So how much is the federal government ready to do about guns? Meeting with governors yesterday, President Trump said his administration will at least act against an attachment that makes some rifles fire like machine guns.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: By the way, bump stocks - were writing that out. I'm writing that out myself. I don't care if Congress does it or not. I'm writing it out myself, OK?


TRUMP: You put it into the machine gun category, which is what it is. It becomes, essentially, a machine gun. And nobody's going to be able - it's going to be very hard to get them. So we're writing out bump stocks.

INSKEEP: And that comment by President Trump is the beginning of our talk with NPR's Scott Horsley, who's been tracking the president on a couple of issues.

Scott, good morning.

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: What's the president doing when he says he's writing out bump stocks?

HORSLEY: He's directed the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to crack down on this accessory that, as you heard him say, makes a semi-automatic weapon perform more like a machine gun. Bump stocks were not used in the Parkland, Fla., shooting, although they were used in that deadly shooting in Las Vegas last October.

INSKEEP: Yeah. So that is one thing that the president says he's going to move forward with if the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms concludes it has the legal authority to do so. Is there any more the president is going to be able to do with Congress?

HORSLEY: There're a number of ideas that are being talked about. One that does seem to have some momentum is limited improvement to background checks, making sure that any information that should disqualify a would-be gun buyer actually makes its way into the federal database. That's an idea that the National Rifle Association supports. A lot of Republicans in Congress support that. The president also talked last week about raising the legal limit for buying long guns from 18 to 21. That's an idea that lawmakers in Tallahassee are considering. And the president supports it in concept, although his spokespeople have been sort of sending mixed signals in the last day or so about just how strong the support is. The president stopped talking about it at the end of last week. And that's an idea the NRA opposes.

The other idea that the president's talked a lot about is arming teachers, and that's something that some states already do. Texas has a program it calls school marshals. State of Florida's now considering it. But Governor Jay Inslee of Washington state confronted the president on that, said it's a bad idea, said he's talked to teachers who don't want to be carrying weapons in a classroom full of first graders.

INSKEEP: Scott, let me ask about another issue - DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, dealing with people who were brought to the United States as children and don't have legal status. The Supreme Court is not helping the president. As you'll recall, the president is moving to shut down this program as of March. And federal courts have stayed the president's decision, and the Supreme Court has left it right there. What happens now?

HORSLEY: So this leaves the DACA recipients in sort of legal limbo. As you say, some courts had put a freeze on the March 5 deadline that the White House wanted. And yesterday, the Supreme Court declined to step in and review those lower court rulings. So for now, at least, the Department of Homeland Security will continue to process renewal applications from DACA recipients beyond March 5. It's a temporary reprieve, but certainly no legal certainty. It's also a reprieve for lawmakers who have so far been unable to reach consensus on any kind of permanent fix.

INSKEEP: Well, is a consensus likely on gun control or DACA? These are two issues where the Republicans who control Congress - and this is not a pejorative thing to say at all - they do not want to do very much on those issues.

HORSLEY: That's right. And on DACA, which is an instance that the president himself started by announcing he was suspending the program last fall - he probably thought he could leverage that into making gains on legal immigration. So far, Congress has been unwilling to go along.

INSKEEP: NPR's Scott Horsley, thanks.

HORSLEY: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Horsley is NPR's Chief Economics Correspondent. He reports on ups and downs in the national economy as well as fault lines between booming and busting communities.