Trump's compromise on guns: explaining the president's (tiny) offer

On Tuesday Donald Trump offered a ban on bump stock devices and a new law to enforce background check laws. Photograph: Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

A day after high school students lay on the ground in the streets in front of the White House, asking “Am I next?”

Newly-activist students who survived the mass shooting in a Florida high school last week are asking for a fresh ban on assault weapons.

On Tuesday Donald Trump offered a ban on the bump stock gun accessory linked to the Las Vegas shooting last year and a new law to enforce background check laws that are already on the books.

The White House deferred comment on assault weapons.

Bump stocks, which investigators found on the array of guns in the Las Vegas shooting that killed 58, are devices that make semi-automatic rifles mimic fully automatic weapons. Historically they were known primarily as a range toy, an accessory popular with gun nerds who post shooting videos on YouTube. Experts said the device had no self-defense value, since it is impossible to fire guns with any accuracy when using a bump stock.

Under the Obama administration, the Justice Department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms ruled that bump stocks did not meet the legal definition of a device that could be regulated under the 1934 National Firearms Act, which strictly regulates machine guns and other especially dangerous weapons. That could change with the new Trump directive.

While the National Rifle Association expressed early willingness to regulate bump stocks more strictly, some grassroots gun rights activists have rallied to protect the devices and garner public support, according to an analysis of 32,000 public comments by The Trace.

Meanwhile, the nation’s background check system for gun sales has repeatedly failed to block dangerous people from buying guns. At least three men who went on to commit high-profile mass shootings should have been barred by law from buying guns, but got them anyway because of background check system failures.