Election 2020

Trump, NRA Trade Views on Arming Clubgoers, Terror Watch List

Donald Trump is introduced by National Rifle Association executive director Chris W. Cox , left, and NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre as he takes the stage to speak at the NRA convention May 20, 2016, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Two top NRA officials disputed any assertion that drinking and dancing patrons at the Pulse nightclub should have been armed to stop the June 12 terrorist attack.

Omar Mateen was armed with a Sig Sauer MCX .223 caliber rifle and Glock 17 9 mm when he killed 49 and wounded 53 at the LGBT nightclub. He was killed at the scene by police.

An Orlando policeman, Adam Gruler, was working as uniformed security at the club that night and traded shots with Mateen before the gunman made it farther into the nightclub. “Gruler quickly realized he was outgunned and called for backup. Gruler retreated and Mateen ran further inside the club,” the Orlando Sentinel reported.

“It’s too bad that some of the young people that were killed over the weekend didn’t have guns, you know, attached to their hips, frankly, and, you know, where bullets could have flown in the opposite direction,” Trump told host Howie Carr the day after the attack.

Today Trump tweeted: “When I said that if, within the Orlando club, you had some people with guns, I was obviously talking about additional guards or employees.”

National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre was asked about Trump’s suggestion on CBS’ Face the Nation on Sunday.

“I don’t think you should have firearms where people are drinking,” La Pierre said. “But I will tell you this. Everybody, every American starts to have — needs to start having a security plan. We need to be able to protect ourselves, because they’re coming. And they’re going for vulnerable spots, and this country needs to realize it.”

“I think that we’re talking about the fact law-abiding people need to be able to own firearms to protect themselves,” he continued. “I think we need national carry reciprocity. I think every school needs a protection plan with a either police officer or certified armed security. And we need to look at all our vulnerabilities, and we need because to hard them, because they’re coming and they’re going to try to kill us, and we need to be prepared. And this president, by diverting the attention to gun control movement, that’s not going to solve the problem. They could care less.”

Chris Cox, executive director of the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action, told ABC on Sunday that what Trump said is “the policies of that nightclub, the gun-free zone, did not prevent that terrorist from going in and mowing down innocent people. And we need to have an honest discussion about what works.”

“No one thinks that people should go into a nightclub drinking and carrying firearms. That’s — that defies common sense. It also defies the law. It’s not what we’re talking about here,” Cox said.

Trump, who tweeted last week that he intended to speak to the NRA “about not allowing people on the terrorist watch list or the no fly list to buy guns,” told CBS he’s talking to the NRA, which already endorsed him, “about the whole concept of terror watch lists.”

“Should we take somebody directly off it — if there is a terror watch list and if somebody is on, should they be allowed to buy a gun?” Trump said. “Now, we understand there are problems with that, because some people are on the terror watch list that shouldn’t be on. You understand that. And that’s happened. Maybe you can reverse it. And we work very hard to find out. If they can’t get a gun, we work hard and diligently to get them off the list, if they indeed shouldn’t be on the list.”

LaPierre stressed that “FBI Director Comey said that he didn’t want an outright ban, because that would blow a lot of their criminal investigations.”

“Nobody wants terrorist with guns,” the NRA official said, adding that legislation from Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who has been in talks with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) on a compromise, “codifies the whole thing.”

“If somebody is on a list, tries to buy a gun, there’s a delay. Law enforcement immediately gets on it. If they want to stop it, they to go a judge. They have got oversight. They don’t — they have to do it right away, because the minute you delay, you’re tipping off the bad guy,” LaPierre said. “And it provides due process for the good people. And it gives law enforcement the ability where they can conduct these investigations and it won’t blow what they’re doing.”

Cox said the NRA and Trump agree in principle that “terrorists should not be able to buy firearms, legally or illegally, period.”

Cox added that the FBI has 72 hours to “investigate every single person who’s on a terrorist watch list if they try to buy a gun — that’s what they’re doing now.”

“If there’s a reason to believe in probable cause that they’re engaged in terrorist activity, they ought to not only be prevented from getting a firearm, they ought to be arrested. At the same time, the government makes mistakes. The government has put people on the list like Nelson Mandela, Ted Kennedy, an 8-year-old Boy Scout, or Cub Scout, rather,” he said. “Do you think that people should be afforded due process who are on the list by the — by mistake?”

“That’s the National Rifle Association’s position. And they’re not mutually exclusive. You can protect the rights of law-abiding people in this country while preventing terrorists from doing bad things. They’re not mutually exclusive.”