Saturday, 19 October, 2019

Trump Visits NRA Convention; Hearing From Both Sides Of The Gun Debate

Shawn Thew  EPA via Shutterstock FILE Shawn Thew EPA via Shutterstock FILE
Patty Aguilar | 05 May, 2018, 00:59

Student survivors of the February 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 people dead are now leading a massive national gun control movement.

Making a pilgrimage to the National Rifle Association's annual meeting in Dallas, Trump tackled head-on the controversy over his visit, which comes three months after a classroom bloodbath that shocked the world. He says the nation was filled with shock and grief upon learning of another attack on a school.

The students have pressed to raise the legal age to purchase a rifle, curb access to AR-style firearms and adopt other gun restrictions. The NRA is trying to undermine Texas concealed carry standards even though, according to an Everytown for Gun Safety poll, 91 percent of Texas voters - including 90 percent of gun owners and 94 percent of current permit holders - support the state's current license to carry permit requirement.

Trump says the strongest deterrent to would-be gun attackers is "the knowledge that their attack will end their life and end in total failure".

The NRA's relationship with the president was further complicated after a McClatchy report in January that US authorities are investigating whether the group funneled Russian money into the 2016 presidential election.

Trump went to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida for the weekend and didn't address the march. The president says to cheers, "we're all fighting battles but I love fighting these battles". They too are looking to the midterm elections for action.

The president tells tens of thousands of attendees that their right to bear arms is "under siege". He vowed that the Second Amendment will "never ever be under siege as long as I am your president".

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum during the NRA Annual Meeting & Exhibits at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center on May 4, 2018 in Dallas, Texas.

Pence is pointing to the Trump administration's work to address school security and support for changes to the background check system, as well as arming teachers.

"The quickest way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun", the vice president said. En route, Trump called the NRA a "truly great organization that loves this country".

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Trump is visiting the group after he temporarily strayed from its strong anti-gun control message in the wake of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting, only to later return to the fold.

YouTube personalities Diamond and Silk, who frequently appear on television to promote Trump, will be at the forum, as will Charlie Kirk, founder of Turning Point USA, a group that maintains a watchlist of professors it accuses of promoting "leftist propaganda", and Mark Geist, a Marine Corps veteran who survived the deadly 2012 attack on the American diplomatic consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Last year, he became the first sitting president to appear in more than 30 years, declaring that the "assault" on the Second Amendment had ended.

Vice President Mike Pence also offered a vigorous defense of gun rights.

Early this morning, President Trump left White House grounds to fly to Dallas where he'll be attending the NRA's annual conference.

More than 70,000 NRA members are expected to attend. Together, the overwhelming majority of Americans who want sensible gun laws will create a future safe from gun violence for all of our children and communities.

Trump referenced the Parkland shooting in his speech, saying he "mourned for the victims and their families" and saying he has taken steps on school safety.

Bob Cramblit, a 66-year-old who drove in from OR to attend the NRA gathering, said that's fine by him.

It will be Trump's first time speaking to NRA members since criticizing lawmakers for being "afraid of the NRA" at a February meeting held in response to the Parkland, Fla. high school shooting. But he has seemingly softened that tough talk.

On Friday, Trump will speak to the NRA in Dallas as the issue of gun violence takes on new urgency after one of the deadliest school shootings in USA history.

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