American gun owners wary of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump—who as early as 2000 supported an “assault weapons” ban as well as longer waiting periods for gun purchases—received a vote of confidence today from America’s largest gun rights group: the National Rifle Association.
“On behalf of the thousands of patriots in this room, and the five million NRA members across this country, and the tens of millions who support us, I’m officially announcing the NRA’s endorsement of Donald Trump for president,” said Chris W. Cox, Executive Director of the NRA-ILA. “We have to unite, and we have to unite right now,” he said.
Trump followed the endorsement with a speech designed to both re-assert his support of gun rights and remind the pro-Second Amendment community of Hillary Clinton’s avowed hatred of the individual right to keep and bear arms.
“I will not let you down. Remember that. I will not let you down,” he said. “Hillary Clinton wants to abolish the Second Amendment. We’re not talking about changing—she wants to abolish the Second Amendment. We’re not going to let that happen.”
Trump jumped back and forth between a pre-written speech and his usual off-the-cuff technique. That he ever referred to a script is significant and, according to one report, suggests that Trump knows how important the pro-gun community’s support is to his continued success.
“It’s so important to me I wrote it down,” he said, referring to his remarks on gun rights.
Trump began by mentioning his sons’ well-known enthusiasm for guns as well as his long-time membership in the NRA.
“My sons have been members of the NRA for many, many years. They have so many rifles and so many guns, sometimes even I get a little bit concerned,” Trump joked.
“They know so much about [firearms], and really they’re surrogates,” he continued. “They go around and speak, and every time they speak to a gun organization, people call me and they say, ‘You’re boys and great boys and, boy, do they know their business.’ It’s one of those things, and that’s just the way we want it.”
Trump also mentioned the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, noting that there were “no guns on the other side.”
“If you would have had guns on the other side, if I took a couple of these folks in here, I promise there wouldn’t have been 130 killed and hundreds lying in the hospital, it might not have happened.”
The majority of his remarks on firearms, however, revolved around Hillary Clinton and her fight to increase gun control across the country.
“The Second Amendment is under a threat like never before,” he said. “Crooked Hillary Clinton is the most anti-gun, anti-Second Amendment candidate ever to run for office.”
To “crooked” he added “heartless” and “hypocrite,” noting Clinton’s desire to disarm women in high-crime neighborhoods while simultaneously enjoying the benefit of 24/7 armed security.
“Americans use guns to defend themselves against violent crime more than a million times a year,” he noted. “Heartless hypocrites like the Clintons want to… get rid of guns, and yet they have bodyguards who have guns. I think we should… let their bodyguards immediately disarm, and let’s see how they feel walking around without the guns on their bodyguards.”
Finally, Trump reminded his audience that the next president will be able to nominate as many as five Supreme Court justices over the next four years, which could decide the future of gun rights for generations to come. That’s why, according to Trump, “the Second Amendment is on the ballot in November.”
“The only way to save our Second Amendment is to vote for a person that you all know named Donald Trump. I will never let you down. I will protect our Second Amendment.”