Today, Donald Trump gave a speech at the NRA, the first specifically devoted to his ever-changing views on gun control. Echoing his history of waffling on abortion, Trump took a maximalist position on the issue at hand in order to make the group of people directly in front of him satisfied with his show of ultra-conservatism.
“Hillary Clinton wants to abolish the second amendment,” Trump said unironically. “We’re not going to let that happen. I’ll tell you that. We’re going to preserve it, we’re going to protect it, we’re going to cherish it.” He went on to describe the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino. “If we had guns, it wouldn’t have been that way,” he said.
“I’d like to call for Hillary Clinton to put together a list [of potential Supreme Court nominees] also,” Trump said, referring to his unprecedented step of letting the Heritage Foundation suggest a list for his campaign. “Because I’d like to see what that list consists of… It will not be good for the people in this room,” Trump said, before catching himself. “And it won’t be good, by the way, for the people of our country, most importantly.”
Trump had already taken to Twitter before his remarks to attack Hillary Clinton’s opposition to lax gun control regulations.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 20, 2016
Trump is a relatively new supporter of the Second Amendment. While Charlton Heston famously raised a rifle over his head and said Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore would take his gun rights away “from my cold, dead hands,” Trump was decidedly less zealous.
“It’s often argued that the American murder rate is high because guns are more available here than in other countries. Democrats want to confiscate all guns, which is a dumb idea because only the law-abiding citizens would turn in their guns and the bad guys would be the only ones left armed. The Republicans walk the NRA line and refuse even limited restrictions,” he wrote in his book The America We Deserve. “I generally oppose gun control, but I support the ban on assault weapons and I support a slightly longer waiting period to purchase a gun. With today’s Internet technology we should be able to tell within 72 hours if a potential gun owner has a record.”
When Trump announced that he is a “big Second Amendment guy,” it wasn’t only because he’s allegedly had a change of heart. It’s because he’s pandering to the most extreme elements of his base.
Similarly, Trump took the most extreme position possible on a woman’s right to have an abortion. This year, pressed for an answer by Chris Matthews, Trump said women should be punished for getting abortions. But back in 1999, he said, “I believe it is a personal decision that should be left to the women and their doctors.”
Photo: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump addresses members of the National Rifle Association’s during their NRA-ILA Leadership Forum during their annual meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S., May 20, 2016. REUTERS/John Sommers II