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article imageTrump signals could bar gun sales for terror suspects

By AFP     Jun 15, 2016 in World

Republican White House hopeful Donald Trump signalled Wednesday he could support banning people on terror watch lists from purchasing guns, a move that would place him in opposition to members of his own party.

Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, regularly touts his support for the constitutionally enshrined right to bear arms.

He has said after terrorist attacks, including the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida Sunday, that death tolls would have been lower if private citizens had been armed and able to shoot back.

But he suggested he is prepared to consider restrictions on gun purchases, after it was revealed the Orlando shooter legally bought a rifle and handgun in Florida despite having been investigated by the FBI about possible extremist ties.

"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 tweeted Wednesday.

Trump's announcement may place him on a collision course with the National Rifle Association, which tweeted Tuesday that "restrictions like bans on gun purchases by people on 'watch lists' are ineffective, unconstitutional, or both."

But the group opened the door to the Republican flagbearer Wednesday, saying they would be "happy to meet" with Trump.

According to Senate Democrat Bill Nelson of Florida, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said Orlando nightclub gunman Omar Mateen was placed on a terrorism watch list from 2013 until 2014.

Republican lawmakers and the National Rifle Association have refused to support legislation that would deny weapons to people on such lists, arguing that such a bill would infringe on the Second Amendment rights of everyday Americans, including those who may have been placed unfairly on watch lists or no-fly lists.

Frustrated Democrats took to the Senate floor Wednesday to launch a filibuster -- a procedural obstruction -- and call for action to restrict suspected terrorists' access to guns.

"I'm at my wits' end," said Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, where a 2012 school shooting left 20 children dead, as he began what could amount to a day-long roadblock.

"I've had enough of the ongoing slaughter of innocents, and I've had enough of the inaction of this body."

A Senate measure that would have prevented FBI terror suspects from purchasing firearms and explosives failed last December, with every Senate Republican but one voting in opposition.

President Barack Obama, speaking Tuesday on the Orlando tragedy, reiterated his backing for so-called "no-fly, no-buy" legislation.

"People with possible ties to terrorism who are not allowed on a plane shouldn't be allowed to buy a gun," Obama said.

A US government report shows that known or suspected terrorists have passed background checks for gun sales more than 90 percent of the time.

Democrats have introduced bills that would deny weapons to people on the watch lists and other terror suspects, and that would alert the FBI of any gun purchase attempts by people who have been investigated for terrorism.

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