Donald Trump Pivots On Guns In Wake Of Orlando Mass Shooting | KUOW News and Information

Donald Trump Pivots On Guns In Wake Of Orlando Mass Shooting

Jun 15, 2016
Originally published on June 16, 2016 12:49 pm
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We're talking a lot about the politics of gun control today. The mass shooting in Orlando has revived the debate over whether Congress should tighten laws so people on government watch lists can't buy guns. The presumptive Democratic president nominee, Hillary Clinton, supports such a move. And surprisingly, some Republicans, including their presumptive nominee, Donald Trump, show signs of a change on this issue. NPR's Don Gonyea reports from Atlanta.

DON GONYEA, BYLINE: Hillary Clinton has long called for tougher gun laws. She's frequently said banning assault weapons would make the country safer and not affect a person's right to own a gun under the Second Amendment. And...


HILLARY CLINTON: If you are too dangerous to get on a plane, you are too dangerous to buy a gun.

GONYEA: That's Clinton and Hampton, Va., today. She continued.


CLINTON: If the FBI is watching you for suspected terrorist links, you should not be able to buy a gun with no questions asked.

GONYEA: For months now, Donald Trump has attacked Clinton in speeches, boasting of his endorsement from the National Rifle Association and claiming that Clinton wants to eliminate the Second Amendment.


DONALD TRUMP: By the way, I'm going to save your Second Amendment, OK? I'm going to save your Second Amendment.


GONYEA: That's him today at a rally in Atlanta where he said armed patrons in the Orlando Nightclub would have stopped the shooter.


TRUMP: If the bullets were going in the other direction aimed at this guy who was just open target practice, you would've had a situation, folks, which would've been always horrible but nothing like the carnage that we all as a people suffered this weekend - nothing.


GONYEA: That's pretty standard rhetoric from Trump. He said the same last fall about the terror attack on the theater in Paris. But early today in a tweet, Trump said something different, something that signals a shift in his position on guns. He tweeted, quote, "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 NRA reacted with a written statement, saying they're happy to meet with Trump, but their position hasn't changed. The organization says terrorists shouldn't be allowed to purchase or possess firearms. Their statement goes on. Quote, "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."


MITCH MCCONNELL: Nobody wants terrorists to have firearms.

GONYEA: Which brings us to Congress. That's Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell yesterday.


MCCONNELL: We're open to serious suggestions from the experts as to what we might be able to do to be helpful.

GONYEA: But the main GOP proposal would require that a judge deny gun sales to someone on the federal terror watch list. These are small steps setting off big debates. On the surface, Trump's comments today move him just a bit toward a position held by Democrats that more restrictions are necessary. But hasn't amplified or explained his position, and it's not clear what he'll say to the NRA when he meets with them. Don Gonyea, NPR News, Atlanta. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.