Trump says to meet NRA on barring gun purchases for people on watch list

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Greensboro, North Carolina on June 14, 2016.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Greensboro, North Carolina on June 14, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - Republican Donald Trump on Wednesday (June 15) said he would meet with the National Rifle Association about new restrictions to prevent people on a terrorism watch list from buying guns, days after a gunman killed 49 people at an Orlando gay nightclub.

Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, had so far in the campaign voiced support for protecting gun rights. He announced his planned meeting with the NRA on Twitter.

"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," he wrote.

Trump has blamed Democratic policies for the shooting on Sunday and doubled-down on his pledge to ban Muslim immigration, while his presumptive Democratic rival Hillary Clinton has warned against demonising Muslim-Americans.

The Florida attack, which also wounded 53 people, could have a lingering impact on the presidential race, mixing concerns about immigration, gun violence and religious tolerance into what has already been a volatile and sharply negative campaign.

The shooter, Omar Mateen, 29, the US-born son of Afghan immigrant parents, called authorities during the massacre to pledge allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group. Federal investigators have said Mateen, who was killed by police, was likely self-radicalised and there was no evidence he received any instruction or aid from outside groups such as ISIS.

Trump has seized on the attack to accuse Democratic President Barack Obama of failing to address "radical Islamic terrorism," warn that Clinton's policies on immigration would allow more potential attackers into the country, and to fine-tune his call for a suspension of Muslim immigration.

In a speech on Monday, Trump said he would suspend immigration from countries with a "proven history of terrorism"against the US, Europe and allied countries "until we fully understand how to end these threats."

Clinton called Trump's response to the attack disturbing. "Prejudice, paranoia and partisanship are not a plan, and will not protect anyone," Clinton said in a statement. She re-emphasised her support for coordinated military action in Syria and Iraq and called for tougher controls on firearms sales.