Politics

Pence: Give Police, Families Tools for Mentally Disturbed

VP vows massive job creation via beefed-up space program

Rep. Donald S. Beyer Jr., D-Va., speaks with D.C.-area students and supporters as they hold a protest against gun violence with a lie-in outside of the White House on Monday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Trump administration intends to give law enforcement and families the “tools they need to deal with” people who have health issues that might drive them to commit violent acts like mass shootings, Vice President Mike Pence said Wednesday.

As during similar remarks late last week, however, the vice president did not specify how much that might cost or whether the administration will seek emergency funds or push Congress to include the required monies in fiscal 2018 and 2019 spending measures.

[Trump Focuses on Shooting Fallout — but Challenges Abound]

President Donald Trump has also focused on addressing what he calls the “difficult” challenge of mental health in response to America’s latest mass shooting. The president has so far resisted calls to focus on firearms; the closest he has come is directing Attorney General Jeff Sessions to craft new regulations banning “bump stocks” and other devices that turn semi-automatic guns into automatic weapons — another White House statement that came with no detail.

Seated in the front row of the East Room during an event honoring law enforcement officers, the president told Sessions he wants those new federal guidelines finalized “very soon.”

Watch: Trump’s Clout on Gun Control is Limited, and House GOP Won’t Help

 

“We can do more to protect our children. We must do more to protect our children,” Trump said Tuesday, adding school safety is now a top priority of his administration.

The gunman who killed dozens at a concert in Las Vegas last year used bump stock-modified weapons that enabled him to fire at nearly the speed of a machine gun. But senior members of both parties warn that Trump and the Justice Department lack the legal authority to ban the devices.

“There are serious problems with the president’s approach. First, his own ATF agency has warned that it does not have the authority to ban bump stocks,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said in a Wednesday morning statement.

“The only way to close this loophole permanently is legislation. He should call on Congress to pass Senator [Dianne] Feinstein’s bill to ban bump stocks, rather than just draft memos,” Schumer said. “On far too many issues, this administration has been all talk and little action — we can’t afford that approach when it comes to curbing gun violence.”

Watch: Pelosi and Ryan Address Gun Violence at Weekly Pressers

[Trump Wants Russia Investigation to Look at Obama White House]

Pence made the comments during a speech at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where his National Space Council is meeting. That group’s goal is to return American astronauts to the moon — and then put a human on Mars, he said.

The Trump administration intends to ramp up the American space program, Pence said. As part of that work, the VP vowed there will be “no limits” to the number of jobs a beefed-up space program would bring from coast to coast.

The vice president called for changes to existing laws and regulations to make it easier to build rockets in multiple states, as well as the removal of federal bureaucratic hurdles for space-related research.

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