Donald Trump tweeted Wednesday that he planned to meet with the National Rifle Association
His tweet also suggested a major break in stance with the rest of his party over guns
Donald Trump said Wednesday he will meet with the National Rifle Association to discuss barring individuals on the terror watch list and “no fly” list from legally purchasing guns.
“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,” the presumptive Republican presidential nominee tweeted Wednesday.
Chris W. Cox, the NRA’s executive director for its Institute for Legislative Action, said in a statement that the organization’s leaders are happy to meet with Trump.
“The NRA’s position on this issue has not changed,” Cox said. “The NRA believes that terrorists should not be allowed to purchase or possess firearms, period. Anyone on a terror watchlist who tries to buy a gun should be thoroughly investigated by the FBI and the sale delayed while the investigation is ongoing.”
Cox said the NRA also called for “due process protections” for “law-abiding Americans who are wrongly put on a watchlist to be removed.”
Trump has portrayed himself as staunchly pro-gun rights throughout his campaign, even claiming that his presumptive general election opponent Hillary Clinton wants to “abolish the 2nd Amendment.”
When asked Wednesday to clarify Trump’s stance on guns, campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks said, “Mr. Trump has already stated his position on this. He looks forward to what he thinks will be a productive meeting.”
Trump, whom the NRA endorsed in May, has previously said during his campaign that he is opposed to any further restrictions on gun rights in the wake of recent mass shootings.
Trump in December appeared to think that individuals on the terror watch list were already banned from buying guns.
“If people are on the watch list or people are sick, you have – this is already covered in the legislation we already have George. It’s already fully covered,” Trump told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos in an interview after the San Bernardino terror attack.
When Stephanopoulos explained that was not the case under current law, Trump said, “if we have an enemy of state, I don’t want to give him anything.”
Most congressional Republicans oppose the push to pass a measure to ban gun sales to those on the terror watch list, arguing that would violate individuals’ Constitutional right to bear arms. They also maintain that many people are mistakenly added to that list and should not be subject to a broad prohibition.
A few GOP members in competitive suburban area seats do support the proposal. On Tuesday, Illinois Rep. Bob Dold, broke ranks and called for an immediate vote on legislation to prevent people on terror watch lists from obtaining guns. But Dold has been working for months to distance himself from Trump, criticizing his stances on the Muslim ban and other issues, and saying he will not endorse the GOP nominee.
New Hampshire Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who faces a tough re-election campaign this year, responded to Trump’s tweet with her own, saying, “We need to work together to solve this & ensure terrorists can’t buy guns.”
Pennsylvania GOP Sen. Pat Toomey, who is in a tight re-election race, is in talks with a gun control group, Everytown for Gun Safety, on a potential compromise bill addressing those on the terror watch list.
The group was founded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a longtime proponent of expanded background checks and other measures aimed at reducing gun violence.
Congressional Democrats have, in the wake of the Orlando shootings that killed 49 people, called for legislation that would prevent people on the federal government’s terror watch list from buying guns. The same proposal, authored by California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, failed on a largely party line vote in the chamber last year.
Republicans have championed a counter proposal from Texas Sen. John Cornyn that would put a three-day delay on a gun purchase by someone on the watch list but also give the attorney general the ability to take the issue to court to get a permanent ban. That measure has received more support than Feinstein’s proposal – but still not enough to pass.
Feinstein released updated data from the Government Accountability Office Wednesday that showed individuals on the terrorist watchlist passed a background check to purchase firearms or explosives 91% of the time.
FBI data showed that individuals on the watchlist were involved in firearm-related background checks 244 times – 223 of the transactions were approved, and 21 were denied, according to the GAO.
Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy launched a filibuster Wednesday afternoon, calling on the chamber to take action on gun control.
His spokesman said Murphy will continue to “hold the floor to push for a vote on amendments to close the terror gap and expand background checks.”
CNN’s Rachel Chason, Ted Barrett, Manu Raju and Eugene Scott contributed to this report.