Donald Trump celebrated receiving the endorsement of the gun lobby, after caving to their demands repeatedly.
"As long as I am President, I will ALWAYS protect our Great Second Amendment, and never let the Radical Left take away your Rights, your Guns, or your Police!" he wrote.
In its endorsement letter, the NRA said that Trump has "done more than any president to protect the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms" by appointing many pro-gun judges, declaring gun stores "critical infrastructure" during the pandemic, and protecting the "rights of hunters and sportsmen."
It made no mention of Trump's repeated promises to take action against gun violence — and his quick retreat from those pledges.
On August 5, 2019, after deadly mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, Trump promised a bipartisan push to "truly make America safer" and ensure the victims "will not have died in vain."
"We must make sure that those judged to pose a grave risk to public safety do not have access to firearms and that if they do, those firearms can be taken through rapid due process," Trump said. "That is why I have called for red flag laws, also known as extreme risk protection orders." The NRA has supported extreme risk protection orders in theory, but only with significant limits.
"Republicans and Democrats must come together and get strong background checks," he tweeted that same day. The NRA strongly opposes expanding background check laws, claiming "background checks don't stop criminals from getting firearms."
Later that week, Trump falsely claimed that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was "totally on board" with universal background checks for gun purchases and that the NRA would either back them or stay "neutral."
Trump backed down, switching his rhetoric to claiming there were already "a lot of background checks."
By mid-September, Trump had stopped pushing for anything. He blamed former Rep. Beto O'Rourke's (D-TX) calls for an assault weapons ban for his own inaction, tweeting "Dummy Beto made it much harder to make a deal. Convinced many that Dems just want to take your guns away. Will continue forward!"
After a February 2020 mass shooting in Milwaukee, Trump offered his "deepest condolences" in a 42-second statement but no action.
Despite his Sept. 1, 2019 pledge to take "strong measures to keep weapons out of the hands of dangerous," gun violence remains a huge problem under Trump. According to the Gun Violence Archive, the nation has had more than 22,500 gun deaths already in 2020 — and more than 300 mass shootings.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
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