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Florida shooting: White House refuses to release photo of Trump signing bill weakening gun laws for mentally ill

Tom Embury-Dennis

The White House has refused to release any images of Donald Trump signing a bill that made it easier for some people with a mental illness to buy guns.

Requests from US media outlets initially came after the US President signed the bill into law on 28 February last year, just a month after his inauguration.

But calls for their release have intensified in the wake of the Florida school shooting, which left 17 people dead, including 14 students.

The bill, HJ Resolution 40, repealed an Obama-era rule that would have added thousands of mentally ill US citizens to a database preventing them buying firearms.

Barack Obama pushed for the change following the Sandy Hook school shooting in 2012, in which 20 children between six and seven years old were shot dead. The law came into effect in 2016.

On the day Mr Trump signed the bill, the National Rifle Association (NRA), America’s most powerful pro-gun pressure group, called it a “new era for law-abiding gun owners”.

“We now have a president who respects and supports our right to keep and bear arms,” its statement said.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a group rarely on the side of the NRA when it comes to gun legislation, also supported Mr Trump’s repeal of the rule, insisting there was no evidence people affected “have a propensity for violence in general or gun violence in particular”.

CBS News said it has made requests for access to the images a total of 13 times, including after Wednesday’s tragedy in Florida.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, White House Press Secretary, responded just once, according to the news channel. "We don't plan to release the picture at this time,” she said on 19 April.

Presidential administrations typically release its own images of bill signings from the Oval Office, and often invite the press in to take pictures of their own.

Mr Trump signed another bill on the same day, the Waters of the United States rule, with images and video of the ceremony being widely circulated.

President Donald Trump speaks as he signs an order withdrawing the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, 28 February 2017 (AP)

The Independent has approached the White House for comment.