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Trump breaks away from party’s stance on gun control

Republican candidate has proposed limits on gun sales for suspects on terrorist watch list

Donald Trump addresses followers in North Carolina.
Donald Trump addresses followers in North Carolina. REUTERS

Donald Trump announced on Wednesday that he was meeting with the National Rifle Association (NRA) to discuss new restrictions on firearms, thus breaking away from his party’s line on gun control.

“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 on Twitter. His plan comes four days after the Orlando massacre and veers from the traditional Republican defense of gun ownership. It also shows that he can meet with one of the most powerful gun lobbies even though he is defending a policy that the group has already rejected. The NRA considers such restrictions “ineffective, unconstitutional, or both.”

In a statement published on Wednesday, the NRA maintained that individuals who are being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation should not be barred from buying firearms, but that their purchases ought to be “delayed” while an investigation is ongoing so that the FBI may determine whether they pose a threat to others. The NRA supports a ban on gun sales to terrorists but says that it is important to establish protection for Americans who have been included on the no-fly list by mistake.

If Con Man Don can convince the NRA to move forward on this, God bless him

New York Senator Joe Crowley

Trump repeated his proposal to ban Muslim immigrants from entering the United States in a speech he delivered in Atlanta, Georgia on Wednesday. He said attacks like the Orlando shooting “will happen again and again” until the country’s enemies “start respecting us,” and that “things will keep getting worse.”

While most of his arguments have remained the same, his shift on gun control contradicts what he has said over the last few months, putting him closer to the policy changes that Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration have been defending.

After the Paris attacks in November 2015, Trump already seemed to favor these reforms, but they were overshadowed by his campaign against Muslim immigrants. “If somebody is on a watch list and... we know they’re an enemy of the state, I would keep them away [from guns], absolutely,” he told ABC in an interview last year.

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As the primary race got underway, the real estate magnate also defended gun ownership and accused Clinton of wanting to “abolish the Second Amendment,” which explicitly protects the right to carry arms.

Most Republican lawmakers are against limits on gun sales, even to people who are under FBI investigation for possible ties to terrorism. They argue, and Trump’s rivals in the Republican primary agree, that this kind of ban would violate an individual’s constitutional right if he or she ends up on the terrorist watch list or no-fly list by mistake.

Last year, Trump backed a gun-control measure sponsored by several Democratic senators. The initiative, which failed to pass Congress in December, proposed exactly what the Republican candidate is currently defending in his campaign platform: if someone is not allowed to fly on a plane, then he may not purchase a firearm.

“If Con Man Don can convince the NRA to move forward on this, God bless him,” New York Senator Joe Crowley, a Democrat, said on Wednesday. “But again, it just goes to show the power of the NRA, that their presidential nominee will go on hand and knee begging for them to give him a pass on this issue so that it can trickle down to all the other Republican members of the House. It’s ludicrous. It is crazy.”

English version by Dyane Jean François.

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