WASHINGTON • United States senators have signalled a new willingness to consider restrictions on the sale of guns after the Orlando nightclub massacre, with presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and others in his party ready to discuss limited gun control measures.
With Republicans and the National Rifle Association gun lobby under pressure to respond to the worst mass shooting in modern US history, Mr Trump said he would meet the NRA to discuss ways to block people on terrorism watch or no-fly lists from buying guns.
Emotions have run high in Congress since Sunday's mass shooting, with Democrats stalling Senate proceedings on Wednesday in a bid to push for tougher gun control legislation.
Senate Democrats ended a nearly 15-hour marathon of speeches on gun violence yesterday after they said Republican leaders agreed to hold votes on new gun limits.
The effort led by Connecticut Democrat Christopher Murphy ended a little after 2am after he announced that Republicans had committed to scheduling votes on measures including expanded background checks and barring suspected terrorists from purchasing wea- pons.
The Senate began discussions on legislation to ban firearm sales to hundreds of thousands of people on US terrorism watch lists after a gunman who had been on such a list killed 49 people at a gay nightclub on Sunday.
"We have been given a commitment on a path forward to get votes on the floor of the Senate," Mr Murphy said in a prepared statement.
He earlier said he would stand "as long as I can" to force consideration of two gun-related amendments.
Earlier on Wednesday, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urged senators to offer ideas on how to prevent another attack like the one in Orlando.
If Congress were to pass a gun control measure, it would mark the first time in more than 20 years that lawmakers agreed on how to address the hot-button issue.
A ban on semi-automatic assault weapons such as the one used in Orlando had gone into effect in 1994 and expired 10 years later.
Republicans over the years have blocked gun control measures, saying they step on Americans' right to bear arms as guaranteed under the US Constitution.
Mr Trump said on Twitter he would meet the NRA "about not allowing people on the terrorist watch list, or the no-fly list, to buy guns".
His campaign did not specify what he might support legislatively, and a spokesman declined to give details about the timing or nature of the meeting.
The NRA, a politically influential lobby group that claims more than 4 million members, said in a statement it was "happy to meet" Mr Trump, whom it endorsed for president on May 20.
The group said in a statement that anyone on a terrorism watch list who tries to buy a gun "should be thoroughly investigated" by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and any sale to that person delayed, a position the lobby group has long held.
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, who has supported gun control efforts, on Monday said she was "bewildered" that Republicans in Congress had blocked a Democratic effort in December to restrict gun sales to people on the watch lists.
The US government maintains two terrorism watch lists: a no-fly list barring people from flying to and from the United States and a larger one that subjects travellers to greater scrutiny at airports and border crossings.
An FBI official said in 2014 that there were 64,000 people on the no-fly list and 800,000 people on the broader list.