On Friday, President Donald Trump spoke at the National Rifle Association's (NRA) annual leadership forum.
As his remarks garnered thunderous applause from the audience, they also pushed gun control activists to the edge of their seats.
"The eight-year assault on your Second Amendment freedoms has come to a crashing end. You have a true friend and champion in the White House," he assured the crowd, reported NBC News. "I will never infringe on the right of the people to keep and bear arms. Never, ever."
Trump's appearance at the NRA convention was remarkably similar to his campaign rallies. He took time to boast of his presidential victory, as well as mock all those who thought he didn't stand a chance. Always one to push his ego to new heights, Trump also crowed that he would win the 2020 election with ease and poked special fun at Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who some have speculated may be a Democratic presidential contender.
"It may be Pocahontas, remember that," he said, alluding to Warren's claims to be of indigenous American heritage. "She is not big for the NRA, that I can tell you."
He also took advantage of his platform and endorsed Karen Handel, the opponent to Democratic upstart Jon Ossoff in the race for Georgia's Sixth Congressional District.
"She's totally for the NRA and the Second Amendment, so get out and vote," Trump encouraged the audience.
The NRA has endorsed Trump since as far back as the Republican primaries and, according to NBC News, spent three times as much money advocating for Trump in 2016 than they did for Mitt Romney in 2012. The mega-weight organization's support was something Trump relied on heavily on the campaign trail, reminding the crowds that turned up to watch him speak that he would "save" the Second Amendment from being gutted by Hillary Clinton. In one, now-infamous moment he suggested that "Second Amendment people" could do something if she was elected. He also chose a Supreme Court justice that many see as staunch supporter of gun rights, Neil Gorsuch.
Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA's lobbying arm, praised Trump, reportedly calling him the "most proudly pro-gun presidential candidate" in history. Wayne LaPierre, chief executive officer of the organization, said he hoped Trump would wage war against the liberal elites, referring to the news media as "public relations flacks for the destruction of our country."
The backing of an organization as formidable as the NRA is critical to Trump, and he promised on Friday that, "You came through for me, and I'm going to come through for you."
So far, Trump has come through in modest ways. Still, the potential effects of these actions are terrifying.
With the help of Republican-controlled Congress, he signed away Obama-era legislation that made it more difficult for those with mental illnesses to purchase guns. His nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court was also seen as promising to pro-gun activists, but the NRA is hoping he won't stop there.
If Trump truly comes through for the NRA, it could mean devastating things for Americans. His allegiance to the organization shows a blatant disregard of the facts, drastically misplaced priorities, and a willingness to put politics over lives.
On an average day, 93 Americans are killed by guns. Between 2005 and 2015, more than 301,000 Americans were killed due to gun violence. In contrast, approximately 70 Americans were killed on United States' soil due to terrorism, one of Trump's and the GOP's pet issues.
Trump's close relationship with the NRA is alarming to advocates of gun control, who see it as leading to a dangerous era. Nevertheless, as the stakes get higher, opposition grows.
Shannon Watts founded the group Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America after the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012. She said the group feels motivated to take action given that the NRA spent more than $30 million to help get Trump elected.
"We have become the David to the NRA's Goliath," Watts said.
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