Donald Trump confirmed to NBC on Thursday evening that he supports a database to track Muslims in the United States. In a separate statement to The Washington Post, however, Trump expressed his opposition to another controversial database: One that would index America's gun sales.
The database of Muslims arose after an interview Yahoo News's Hunter Walker conducted with Trump earlier this week, during which he asked the Republican front-runner to weigh in on the current debate over refugees from Syria.
Trump's been as outspoken on that subject as he is on most others, and his position on refugees largely mirrors his strong position on Mexican immigrants. "We're going to have to do things that we never did before," Trump told Walker. "Some people are going to be upset about it, but I think that now everybody is feeling that security is going to rule."
Walker asked Trump if he would consider registering Muslims in a database or giving them a special form of identification. Trump's reply?
"We're going to have to — we’re going to have to look at a lot of things very closely," he said. "We’re going to have to look at the mosques. We’re going to have to look very, very carefully."
After an event on in Newton, Iowa, on Thursday night, NBC's Vaughn Hillyard pressed the point. "Should there be a database system that tracks Muslims here in this country?," Hillyard asked. "There should be a lot of systems, beyond databases" Trump said. "We should have a lot of systems."
Hillyard asked about implementation, including the process of adding people to the system. "Good management procedures," Trump said. Sign people up at mosques, Hillyard asked? "Different places," Trump replied. "You sign them up at different places. But it's all about management."
— Vaughn Hillyard (@VaughnHillyard) November 20, 2015
Earlier in the day, we reached out to the Trump campaign to clarify a position that he had not yet articulated. Trump insists that he is a strong supporter of the National Rifle Association and of gun rights, but apparently he hadn't taken a public position on a federal gun owner database -- a proposal strongly opposed by the NRA.
When Congress was debating an update to the Gun Control Act of 1968 during the second Reagan administration, the idea of creating a gun registry was fiercely opposed by conservatives. In a 2011 article describing that update, the Firearm Owners' Protection Act, the NRA's political action arm described it as "the law that saved gun rights." Why? Among other reasons, because it "limited government powers to require reports from dealers and forbade creation of certain gun databases."
In response to our question, Trump indicated that he also opposes such a database.
"The Constitution of the United States is clear," Trump's statement reads. "The right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. Period. In recent years, the Supreme Court has supported this absolute truth over and over again."
Proposing a national gun registry is an attempt to create a precedent for interference with the right of every American to own, purchase and use guns for sport or to defend family and property. Through the process of national gun registering, lawful gun owners will have their privacy invaded and will place information in the hands of government officials that could be easily abused. Nearly all guns are purchased through federal firearms licensed dealers.
There are already sufficient gun registration rules in place. Requiring all guns to be registered is not necessary, especially for all law-abiding citizens who own and use guns responsibly. Less government, not more.
We asked the Trump campaign to clarify why a database of gun sales would be an invasion of privacy and subject to abuse, while those risks don't concern him with an index of Muslim Americans and migrants. We did not receive a response by the time this article was published.
Update: On Twitter on Friday afternoon, Trump appeared to distance himself from his earlier comments.
I didn't suggest a database-a reporter did. We must defeat Islamic terrorism & have surveillance, including a watch list, to protect America
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 20, 2015