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Trump: No political support for assault rifle controls

File photo of US President Donald Trump. Photograph:( AFP )

AFP Washington Aug 07, 2019, 09.49 PM (IST)

US President Donald Trump contended Wednesday there was no political support to implement tough controls on highly lethal assault weapons that were used in three mass shootings in the past two weeks.

Trump told reporters that he and leaders in Congress support legislation to prevent mentally ill people from possessing firearms via background checks.

"I think background checks are important. I don't want to put guns into the hands of mentally unstable people or people with rage or hate, sick people. I'm all in favour of it," he said.

But Trump replied negatively when asked if the US could ban assault rifles, like the semi-automatic weapons attackers used to kill 22 people on Saturday in El Paso, Texas and nine in Dayton, Ohio on Sunday.

"I can tell you there is no political appetite for that at this moment," he said.

"You could speak and do your own polling and there is no political appetite from the standpoint of the legislature."

"I can only do what I can do," he added.

"I think there's a great appetite to do something about making sure that mentally unstable, seriously ill people aren't carrying guns. And I've never seen the appetite as strong as it is now. I have not seen it about certain types of weapons," he said.

Trump spoke before travelling to Dayton and El Paso to "pay his respects" to victims and their families and meet with local officials.
Those shootings, and a third in Gilroy, California on July 28 that left three people dead, involved AR-15 and AK-47-type assault rifles originally designed for war but now widely available in the United States.

The same weapons have been used in the deadliest massacres in the country over the past decade, and gun control advocates say their ban would reduce the toll in mass shootings.

Support for bans rise after mass shootings, but polls are generally inconclusive.

A Quinnipiac poll in May showed 63 per cent of voters favoured a ban on the sale of assault weapons.

In a Gallup poll taken shortly after October 1, 2017, Las Vegas massacre, in which a gunman who stockpiled nearly two dozen assault rifles killed 58 people at a concert, Americans were evenly divided on a total ban on the manufacture, sale or possession of such weapons. 

But in a repeat poll in October 2018, Gallup said only 40 per cent supported such a sweeping ban, and 57 per cent opposed.

Story highlights

Support for bans rise after mass shootings, but polls are generally inconclusive.