Trump gets NRA’s endorsement

Gun Rights

DALLAS — Former President Donald Trump urged gun owners to vote in the 2024 election as he addressed thousands of members of the National Rifle Association, which officially endorsed him just before Trump took the stage at their annual meeting in Texas on Saturday.

“We’ve got to get gun owners to vote,” Trump said. “I think you’re a rebellious bunch. But let’s be rebellious and vote this time.”

In his speech, Trump said the Second Amendment “is very much on the ballot” in November, alleging that if Democratic President Joe Biden “gets four more years they are coming for your guns, 100% certain. Crooked Joe has a 40-year record of trying to rip firearms out of the hands of law-abiding citizens.”

The Biden administration has taken a number of steps to try to combat gun violence, including a new rule that aims to close a loophole that has allowed tens of thousands of guns to be sold every year by unlicensed dealers who do not perform background checks.

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Trump has pledged to continue to defend the Second Amendment, which he claims is “under siege,” and has called himself “the best friend gun owners have ever had in the White House” as the United States faces record numbers of deaths from mass shootings. Last year ended with 42 mass killings and 217 deaths, making it one of the deadliest years on record.

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee has been criticized by Biden, specifically for remarks Trump made this year after a school shooting in Iowa. Trump called the incident “very terrible” only to later say “we have to get over it. We have to move forward.”

During his speech, Trump also laced into independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr., calling him “radical left” and “a disaster” and noting that Kennedy had once called the NRA a “terror group.”

“Don’t think about it. Don’t waste your vote,” he said. “He calls you a terrorist group, and I call you the backbone of America.”

Trump noted that he will be speaking this week at the Libertarian Party’s convention and said he will urge its members to vote for him.

“We have to join with them,” he said. “We have to get that 3% because we can’t take a chance on Joe Biden winning.”

Earlier Saturday, Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee announced the creation of a new “Gun Owners for Trump” coalition that includes gun rights activists and those who work in the firearms industry.

Biden has made curtailing gun violence a major part of his administration and reelection campaign, creating the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention overseen by Vice President Kamala Harris. Biden also has urged Congress to ban assault weapons — something Democrats shied from just a few years ago.

“Tonight, Donald Trump confirmed that he will do exactly what the NRA tells him to do — even if it means more death, more shootings and more suffering,” Biden spokesman Ammar Moussa said.

When Trump was president, there were moments when he pledged to strengthen gun laws. After a high school shooting in Parkland, Fla., that killed 17 people and wounded 17 others, Trump told survivors and family members that he would be “very strong on background checks.” He claimed he would stand up to the NRA but he later backpedaled, saying there was “not much political support.”

On Saturday, Trump also brought up the criminal cases against him as his hush money trial heads into the final stretch this week and accused Democrats of being behind the cases because he is Biden’s opponent.

“Never forget our enemies want to take away my freedom because I will never let them take away your freedom,” he said.

Information for this article was contributed by Jill Colvin of The Associated Press.

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