WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The White House on Saturday morning issued a statement praising youths participating in March for Our Lives demonstrations against gun violence in Washington and around the country.
“We applaud the many courageous young Americans exercising their First Amendment rights today,” White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said in the statement, in which she added that “keeping our children safe is a top priority of the President’s.”
But after leaving his golf club on Saturday afternoon, Trump’s motorcade took a longer, less-direct route back to his Mar-a-Lago estate, where he is staying this weekend.
Trump’s typical route would have taken him by Dreher Park in West Palm Beach, the gathering point for the local March for Our Lives demonstration.
A White House spokesman did not immediately comment on the rationale for the longer route.
Many of those participating in the demonstrations are advocating far more aggressive steps than Trump has endorsed, such as a ban on assault weapons.
The protests drew hundreds of thousands of protesters to the nation’s capital and sister rallies around the country. The events were organized by students who survived the mass shooting last month at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
The White House’s statement was issued as Trump spent time at Trump International Golf Club here, about 35 miles from Parkland.
Earlier this month, the White House vowed to help provide “rigorous firearms training” to some teachers and formally endorsed a bill to tighten the federal background-checks system. That legislation was included in the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill passed by Congress this week.
But the White House backed off Trump’s earlier call to raise the minimum age to purchase some guns to 21 from 18.
On Friday, at Trump’s direction, Attorney General Jeff Sessions also announced that the Justice Department is proposing a regulation to define bump stocks, devices that make a semiautomatic weapon fire in a fashion similar to an automatic one, as machine guns under federal law, effectively banning the device used last fall in Las Vegas by a gunman who killed 58 people.