On June 15, 2016, Donald Trump proposed a meeting with the NRA to discuss barring those on the no-fly list, otherwise known as the terrorist watch list, from purchasing firearms. The presumptive Republican presidential candidate announced his intentions on Twitter shortly after the massacre of 49 people in a night club in Orlando, Florida, on Sunday. The shooter believed to be behind the killings—which is the deadliest mass shooting by a single gunman in the United States—is 29-year-old Omar Mateen, who was previously investigated by the FBI and was on the no-fly list for a period of time.
“I will be meeting with the NRA, who has endorsed me, about not allowing people on the terrorist watch list, or the no fly list, to buy guns,” Trump stated on Twitter.
However, the NRA and other gun rights groups have long opposed gun control restrictions for those on the list, which at its peak held 800,000 people. Second Amendment advocates say that many on the list were added for arbitrary reasons, and that the suspicion of a crime is not a strong enough reason to strip American citizens of their rights.
“We are happy to meet with Donald Trump,” read a statement from the NRA. “The NRA’s position on this issue has not changed. The NRA believes that terrorists should not be allowed to purchase or possess firearms, period. Anyone on a terror watch list who tries to buy a gun should be thoroughly investigated by the FBI and the sale delayed while the investigation is ongoing. If an investigation uncovers evidence of terrorist activity or involvement, the government should be allowed to immediately go to court, block the sale, and arrest the terrorist.
“At the same time, due process protections should be put in place that allow law-abiding Americans who are wrongly put on a watch list to be removed. That has been the position of Sen. John Cornyn (R.-Tex.) and a majority of the U.S. Senate. Sadly, President Obama and his allies would prefer to play politics with this issue.”
The Democratic presumptive presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, has long argued that those on the list should be barred from purchasing or owning firearms. Clinton stated several times that those who cannot board an airplane should not be able to buy semiautomatic, or “military-style” rifles.
“If you have suspected terrorist links,” she said at an event on Wednesday, “you should not be able to buy a gun.”
Like the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the Orlando mass shooting has once again thrust gun control into the national spotlight. Both Clinton and Trump deviated from their planned talking points this week to address the shooting and those affected, but also the contentious issue of gun control. Clinton played to her strengths by doubling down on her calls for national firearm reform, while Trump did much the opposite.
“[Clinton’s] plan is to disarm law-abiding Americans, abolishing the Second Amendment and leaving only the bad guys and terrorists with guns—no good,” Trump said at one of his events on Wednesday. “Not gonna happen, folks, not gonna happen.”
Instead, the real estate mogul touted that he would be the one to “save” the Second Amendment. Countering Clinton’s argument that America has a gun problem, Trump argued that more guns are exactly what could have saved the patrons of the Orlando night club.
“If some of those great people that were in that club that night had guns strapped to their waist or strapped to their ankle, and if the bullets were going in the other direction, aimed at this guy, who was just open target practice, you would have had a situation folks, which would have been always horrible, but nothing like the carnage that we all as a people suffered this weekend,” he said.
Neither Trump nor the NRA clarified when they will meet, but both say they are interested in starting a dialogue. According to The Washington Post, the NRA previously supported a proposal that would ban purchases to those on the no-fly list if it has been proven that they are involved in terrorist activities. Donald Trump also previously told CBS that he was open to those alternatives.
“We have to be looking at a lot of different things,” Trump said in the prior interview. “But we can’t do anything to hurt the Second Amendment. People need their weapons to protect themselves. And you see that now more than ever before.”