Updated May 18th, 2024 at 18:14 IST

Self-Proclaimed 'Best Friend' of Gun Owners Donald Trump to Address Texas NRA Event

Donald Trump's courting of the gun lobby comes after a year when the US saw a record number of deaths due to mass shootings.

Trump has called himself "the best friend gun owners have ever had in the White House." | Image:AP
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Dallas: Former President Donald Trump is expected to address thousands of members of the National Rifle Association in Texas a day after campaigning in Minnesota in the midst of his hush money trial. Trump has pledged to continue to defend the Second Amendment 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 due to mass shootings.

Last year ended with 42 mass killings and 217 deaths, making it one of the deadliest years on record.

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

Speaking Friday in Minnesota, Trump said: “You know, it’s an amazing thing. People that have guns, people that legitimately have guns, they love guns and they use guns for the right purpose, but they tend to vote very little and yet they have to vote for us. There’s nobody else to vote for because the Democrats want to take their guns away and they will take their guns away.”

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He added, “That’s why I’m going to be talking to the NRA tomorrow to say, ‘You gotta get out and vote.’”

Vice President Kamala Harris said in a statement before Trump's NRA appearance that “at a time when guns are the number one cause of death for children and teens in America, Donald Trump is catering to the gun lobby and threatening to make the crisis worse if reelected.”

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She said she and Biden "will continue to take on the gun lobby to keep Americans safe, while Donald Trump will continue to sacrifice our kids’ and communities’ safety to keep these special interests happy.”

When Trump was president, there were moments when he pledged to strengthen gun laws.

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After a high school mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, 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 later he backpedalled, saying there was “not much political support.”

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On Saturday, he is expected to give the keynote address as the powerful gun lobby holds a forum in Dallas. Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott will also speak.

Prominent gun safety groups that have endorsed Biden are planning to demonstrate near the convention centre where the gun lobby plans to meet.

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While Trump sees strong support in Texas, Democrats in the state think they have a chance to flip a Senate seat in November with US Representative Colin Allred leading an underdog campaign to unseat Republican Ted Cruz.

No Democrat has won a statewide office in Texas in 30 years, the longest streak of its kind in the country.

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Published May 18th, 2024 at 18:14 IST