DOJ announces actions to improve school safety, enforce gun laws

The Justice Department has announced a series of actions that officials say will support President Trump's plan to prevent violence in schools, better enforce gun laws, support law enforcement, and strengthen the current firearms background check system.

"No child should have to fear going to school or walking the streets of their neighborhood," Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement released Monday. "Today I am directing the Department of Justice to take a number of new steps that will help make schools and the American people safer from the threat of gun violence."

Among those steps, Sessions is calling on relevant federal agencies to verify within 45 days that they are in full compliance, or have a plan to become fully compliant, with existing law requiring agencies to report relevant records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or "NICS."

The FBI maintains the NICS database, which came under scrutiny last fall when former U.S. Air Force airman Devin Kelley opened fire at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, killing 26 people. It was later revealed that the Air Force had failed to report Kelley's history of domestic assault to the database., information that would have prevented him from purchasing a firearm.

The DOJ is directing the FBI to identify local jurisdictions that are not reporting arrests to state repositories as well as jurisdictions that are not providing all of their records identifying those who would be prohibited from possessing firearms for mental health reasons.

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Sessions has also ordered federal prosecutors to "swiftly and aggressively" prosecute "Lie-and-Try" cases. That term refers to people who are prohibited from possessing firearms -- and lie about that fact in order to deceive the federal background system.

The DOJ also reiterated its Saturday announcement on bump stocks. "The Department of Justice is supporting President Trump's absolute commitment to ensuring the safety and security of every American by submitting to the Office of Management and Budget a proposed regulation to clarify that bump stock type devices are machine guns under federal law, which will effectively ban the manufacture, sale or possession of these devices."

The department will also help state and local authorities hire more School Resource Officers. The COPS Hiring Program, a federal grant program, will help local communities hire more police officers and prioritize those who intend to use the grants for School Resource Officers.