NRA Says It Won't Change Position on Watch-List Gun Ban

Trump calls for banning those on no-fly, watch lists from purchasing a gun

Donald Trump
June 15, 2016

The National Rifle Association said on Wednesday it would be happy to meet with Republican nominee Donald Trump to discuss how to keep terrorists from obtaining firearms but that it would not change its position.

"We are happy to meet with Donald Trump," Chris Cox, head of the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action, told the Washington Free Beacon in a statement. "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," he continued. "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."

Cox said due process protections for Americans wrongly placed on a watch list must be a priority.

"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," he said. "That has been the position of Sen. John Cornyn (R., Texas) and a majority of the U.S. Senate."

Trump tweeted on Wednesday that he would be meeting with the group to discuss the issue.

"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 said.

The most recent proposal to keep those suspected of connections to terrorism from buying guns was introduced to the Senate by Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) in 2015.

Under that bill anybody the attorney general "appropriately suspected" of "conduct constituting, in preparation for, in aid of, or related to terrorism, or providing material support or resources for terrorism" can deny that person the right to purchase a firearm, provided the Justice Department has a "reasonable belief" that the suspect "may use" the gun "in connection with terrorism."

The individual would not have to be charged or convicted of any crime to be denied their gun rights. Since non-immigrant aliens, such as tourists and foreign nationals, are already generally prohibited from purchasing firearms in the United States, the proposal would affect legal immigrants and American citizens.

The idea has seen increased attention in the aftermath of the terrorist attack in Orlando, Florida. Although the attacker had been investigated by the FBI for suspected connections to Islamic terrorists he did not buy the firearms he used during his attack until after the FBI had closed their investigation and removed him from any watch lists.

Donald Trump has indicated support for similar proposals in the past.

"Mr. Trump, yes or no, should someone on the terror watch list be allowed to buy a gun?" George Stephanopoulos asked Trump in November 2015.

"If somebody is on a watch list and an enemy of state and we know it's an enemy of state, I would keep them away, absolutely," Trump said.

That puts him at odds with the NRA and other leading gun group's position on the issue. Most gun rights groups prioritizes due process for Americans on watch lists, cautioning that such lists often include people who never should've been placed on them to begin with.

"Without proper protections for people to find out if they are put on the no fly list and a quick way to get off of it if wrongly put on it, we cannot support it," Alan Gottlieb, the Second Amendment Foundation's founder, told the Free Beacon. "As currently written it is a civil rights nightmare. It is an anti-Second Amendment bureaucrats dream come true. There are thousands of people wrongly on the no fly list that would lose their Second Amendment rights."

Both the NRA and Second Amendment Foundation criticized President Obama and Hillary Clinton, but not Donald Trump, for pushing the proposals. "President Obama and Hillary Clinton and the gun prohibition lobby that supports their anti-rights agenda can not be trusted with this kind of power," Gottlieb said. "Sadly, President Obama and his allies would prefer to play politics with this issue," Cox said.

The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.