The National Rifle Association said Wednesday it is willing to meet the presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump amid a potential disagreement between the two allies over gun rights for people who are placed on terrorism watch lists by the government.
“We are happy to meet with Donald Trump. The NRA's position on this issue has not changed,” said Chris W. Cox, a top lobbyist for the gun-rights group.
Trump said in November he would “absolutely" support blocking terrorism suspects on a watch list from buying a gun. On Wednesday, he tweeted, “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.” He accepted the group’s endorsement in May.
The NRA's case against banning people on the watch list was outlined in the same statement on Wednesday.
“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. 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 watchlist to be removed,” the statement said.
The back-and-forth came three days after a shooting in Orlando that killed 49 people—the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history—by a Muslim man who the FBI believes was radicalized and sympathized with terrorists. The shooter, who was killed by police, had been interviewed three times by the FBI, and had purchased the guns used in the attack legally.
Democrats have revived their push to pass an amendment by California Senator Dianne Feinstein that would allow the attorney general to deny the sale of a firearm to someone if it has a “reasonable belief” the gun may be used in connection with terrorism. The NRA opposes that measure. All but one Senate Republican voted against it in December, arguing that it would violate citizens’ rights without due process.
The NRA has said it supports an alternative measure by Texas Senator John Cornyn, which contains a higher standard for denying the transfer of a gun. Under the Cornyn proposal, the attorney general would be notified of an attempted purchase of a firearm by someone in the terrorism database and be allowed to delay the transfer for up to 72 hours while law enforcement investigates. Democrats say Cornyn’s amendment is too weak.
A spokesperson for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment on where he stands on the Feinstein and Cornyn amendments.
Trump has described himself as a strong supporter of the Second Amendment right to bear arms and is running on a platform to loosen gun laws.
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has also reiterated her call for a ban on gun sales to FBI terrorism suspects, as well as for a ban on assault weapons and for universal background checks for firearm purchases.
Senators Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Cory Booker of New Jersey spoke in favor of gun control on the Senate floor Wednesday, with Murphy tweeting that he was prepared to speak for “as long as” he could.
Some Republicans facing tough re-election fights, including Rob Portman of Ohio and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, also suggested after the attacks they were open to finding ways to keeping guns out of the hands of terrorists.