WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump told members of the National Rifle Association Friday that he dismissed warnings that his appearance at the organization’s annual convention could raise concerns.
“Before I left today a couple of people came up to me, good political people, they said, you know, going to the NRA convention and speaking today, that’ll be very controversial, it might not be popular,” Trump said. “You know what I said? ‘Bye-bye, gotta get on the plane.’ ”
Trump’s appearance before the Dallas, Texas convention comes less than three months after a deadly mass shooting at a Parkland, Fla. high school reignited a long-running debate on gun violence.
While Trump appeared open to a number of gun control measures in the immediate aftermath, including raising age limits on some firearms, he positioned himself Friday as a full-fledged supporter of the pro-gun group.
“Your Second Amendment rights are under siege, but they will never, ever be under siege as long as I’m your president,” Trump said.
In a nearly hour-long speech, Trump gave red meat to attendees on guns and a slate of unrelated conservative policy issues ranging from immigration to his dissatisfaction with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.
The president pointed to terrorists using vans to mow down people and mockingly suggested that perhaps the U.S. should ban cars next.
Decrying gun-free zones in the U.S., Trump also pointed to the 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, suggesting that if anybody in the various night clubs and cafes in which shooters opened fire had a gun, then the tables could have ultimately turned.
Trump also returned to some of the positions he took immediately after the Parkland shooting, including arming some teachers and making it easier for those law enforcement officials to intervene with those who could pose a threat.
On multiple occasions, Trump raised the upcoming midterm elections in 2018, urging those in attendance to take to the polls to ensure that Republicans continue to control Congress in order to prevent gun laws from being rolled back.
“We recognize a simple fact: The one thing that has always stood between the American people and the elimination of Second Amendment rights has been conservatives in Congress willing to fight for those rights,” Trump said.