February 28, 2018 / 5:11 PM / 4 months ago

Trump to talk about guns, schools with 17 lawmakers at White House

WASHINGTON, Feb 28 (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump will discuss ideas on school safety on Wednesday with a diverse group of 17 lawmakers, including advocates for more gun control and opponents who fear infringement of constitutional protections of gun ownership following a mass shooting at a Florida high school.

The White House meeting, set for 3 p.m. EST (2000 GMT), is expected to be a free exchange of ideas like three other sessions Trump has held in the past week after 17 people were shot to death at the school in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14.

Trump, a Republican endorsed by the powerful gun lobby National Rifle Association in his 2016 campaign, is considering changes for gun laws and other measures.

But ahead of the November elections in which their control of Congress will be at stake, Trump and his party are wary of alienating supporters who oppose any new curbs on gun ownership.

The group invited to meet with Trump includes Republican Senators John Cornyn of Texas and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, who have proposed legislation to beef up the background check system for gun buyers, and their Democratic co-sponsors.

Also included are Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah and Democratic Representative Ted Deutch of Florida, who have worked on bills to give funding to schools to train people to recognize the warning signs for violence.

Republican Senator Steve Daines from Montana and Representative Marsha Blackburn from Tennessee, both opponents of restrictions on guns, were invited to the meeting.

Republican Representative Brian Mast of Florida, who has called on Trump to temporarily ban the sale of AR-15 semiautomatic rifles, will be at the table, as will Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, who has pushed to ban the sale of military-style assault rifles and high-capacity magazines.

Also attending will be Democratic Representative Elizabeth Esty of Connecticut, who has worked on legislation to encourage states to pass “red flag” laws that allow police to temporarily seize guns from people reported to be dangerous.

The group includes a large contingent of lawmakers from Florida, such as Senator Marco Rubio, who has backed the idea of raising the legal age to buy more types of guns to 21 from 18.

Reporting by Roberta Rampton, Susan Cornwell and Richard Cowan Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Bill Trott

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