Donald Trump (Gage Skidmore / CC 2.0)

Donald Trump, who has a history of taking confusing positions on gun policy, said Wednesday that he would meet with the National Rifle Association to discuss new restrictions on guns.

The announcement, which came just three days after the worst mass shooting in American history, was made via Twitter:

Trump’s proclamation also comes as new gun control legislation is (once again) being debated in Congress. As Trump was tweeting, Democratic senators were holding a filibuster to protest the lack of congressional action on gun control. Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy initiated the filibuster, which ended after almost 15 hours.

There may be some hope of congressional action on gun control after all, but Trump’s meeting with the NRA is not looking as promising. The NRA said in a statement on Wednesday:

We are happy to meet with Donald Trump. The NRA’s position on this issue has not changed. The NRA believes that terrorists should not be allowed to purchase or possess firearms, period. Anyone on a terror watchlist 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. At the same time, due process protections should be put in place that allow law-abiding Americans who are wrongly put on a watchlist to be removed.

According to The New York Times, the NRA has supported a Republican proposal that would give federal prosecutors “three days to persuade a judge that there is probable cause to deny the purchase” of a gun by somebody on the watch list. Since the NRA released that statement, the organization has posted several tweets about the “no-fly” list:

… and the heated politics surrounding gun control:

While Trump’s attempt to sway the NRA may prove unsuccessful, some say it simply shows his failure to conform to Republican Party orthodoxy. In actuality, Trump’s aspirations on gun control show that he knows very little about the issue. As CNN notes, “Trump in December appeared to think that individuals on the terror watch list were already banned from buying guns.” NPR adds:

Trump’s seeming openness to potentially buck the NRA, even slightly, is yet another example of his willingness to veer off GOP orthodoxy. It also plays into the notion that he’s open to making deals with Democrats. …

But it also shows that on yet another issue important to conservatives, as with abortion, Trump is not steeped in the issue and does not really understand the arguments. The NRA, for example, as noted above, would say it isn’t against denying guns to people on terrorist watch lists. It is even in favor of a bill that would do just that, the group argues. But because Trump doesn’t have a deep understanding of the issue, he gets himself into these positions that make him look like he’s splitting with important constituencies.

In the meantime, while politicians and the NRA engage in arguments via social media, guns have reportedly killed at least 125 Americans since last Sunday’s massacre in Orlando.

—Posted by Emma Niles

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