Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump announced Wednesday that he plans to meet with officials from the National Rifle Association about preventing people on the federal "no fly" or terror watch lists from buying firearms.
Trump’s announcement about his meeting with the powerful gun lobby came amid growing congressional debate in the wake of the deadly shooting rampage at an Orlando nightclub by a lone gunman who officials say because radicalized over the internet and sympathized with ISIS.
At least 49 people were killed and 50 were injured on Sunday when the gunman, Omar Mateen, opened fire on a gathering at Pulse, a gay nightclub.
Federal investigators looked into Mateen’s possible terrorism ties, but later removed him from the FBI’s watch list based on their assessment about his level of risk. His inclusion on that watch list, however, wouldn’t have prevented him from legally purchasing a gun.
That fact has many Democrats up in arms and prompted Trump, who throughout his campaign has strictly opposed tightening the nation’s gun laws, to address the issue.
Trump has already previously backed a no-buy list, which the NRA has opposed out of concerns that Americans who were wrongfully placed on the list would be stripped of their constitutional rights to due process.
"The NRA's position on this issue has not changed," Chris W. Cox, executive director of the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action said in a statement on Wednesday."The NRA believes that terrorists should not be allowed to purchase or possess firearms, period. 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."
The NRA also wants to ensure that due process protections are put place to remove law-abiding American citizens who are wrongly put on a watch list to be removed.
Senator Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat, has introduced a bill to require that FBI investigators be notified whenever anyone ever investigated for terrorism buys a gun.
"We’re not saying: don’t sell guns to someone just because they were investigated," Nelson said in a statement. "But having a system in place that alerts the FBI if someone they once investigated is suddenly trying to purchase multiple assault weapons is just common sense."
Some Democrats filibustered on the Senate floor on Wednesday while other lawmakers have held press conferences to criticize what they see as a dangerous loophole in the nation’s efforts to combat terrorism.
Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., a former Marine who served in Iraq, feels the “no fly, no buy” push can gain traction in Congress. He was one of a number of lawmakers who walked off the House floor Monday during the moment of silence for the Orlando shooting victims out of frustration over congressional inaction on gun policy reform.
“I think it’s the first step in the right direction," Moulton told NBC News. "But I think an assault weapons ban is necessary as well. I’ve already talked to some Republicans who think an assault weapons ban is reasonable, that we need to do this but 'no fly, no buy' will be a good first step."