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White House applauds “courageous young Americans” participating in March for Our Lives

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The White House on Saturday issued a statement praising the youths participating in large-scale demonstrations against gun violence in Washington and around the country, where many participants are calling for tougher gun-control measures than President Trump supports.

“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.”

Many of those participating in the demonstrations, dubbed the “March for Our Lives,” are advocating far more aggressive steps than Trump has endorsed, such as a ban on assault weapons.

The demonstrations are expected to draw hundreds of thousands of protesters to the nation’s capital and sister rallies around the country. The events were organized by 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, located about 35 miles from Parkland.

Earlier this month, the White House vowed to help provide “rigorous firearms training” to some schoolteachers and formally endorsed a bill to tighten the federal background checks system. That legislation was included in the omnibus spending bill passed by Congress this week.

But the White House backed off President Trump’s earlier call to raise the minimum age to purchase some guns to 21 years old from 18 years old.

On Friday, at Trump’s direction, Attorney General Jeff Sessions also announced that the Justice Department is proposing a regulation to define bump stocks as machine guns under federal law, effectively banning the device used by a gunman in Las Vegas last fall that killed 58 people and wounded hundreds of others in just minutes.

Live coverage: March for Our Lives
Thousands pack Pennsylvania Avenue as seen from the sixth floor of the Newseum on Saturday in Washington. (Photo by Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

Tens of thousands of people are expected to gather in the nation’s capital Saturday for the March for Our Lives, an anti-gun-violence rally organized by survivors of the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 people dead.