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Tuesday 17 July 2018

We are fighting to protect your right to bear arms, Trump tells NRA

The president was addressing the NRA gathering nearly three months after a deadly shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida.

Donald Trump speaks at the National Rifle Association’s annual convention in Dallas (Susan Walsh/AP)
Donald Trump speaks at the National Rifle Association’s annual convention in Dallas (Susan Walsh/AP)

By Associated Press Reporter

President Donald Trump has told the National Rifle Association convention that his administration was fighting to protect their constitutional right to bear arms.

Trump told the convention on Friday in Dallas that they had an administration in Washington that was “fighting to protect your Second Amendment, and we will protect your Second Amendment”.

The president told tens of thousands of attendees that their right to bear arms was “under siege”.

But he pledged that those rights “will never, ever be under siege as long as I’m your president”.

Trump did not elaborate on how the Second Amendment was under siege.

The president was addressing the NRA gathering nearly three months after a deadly shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida.

The president temporarily strayed from the group’s strong opposition to tougher gun controls after the school shooting – only to rapidly return to the fold.

He was speaking at the event for the fourth year in a row. Last year, he became the first sitting president to appear in more than 30 years, declaring that the “assault” on the Second Amendment had ended.

But this year’s speech in Dallas came as the issue of gun violence takes on new urgency after one of the deadliest school shootings in US history.

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NRA convention raffle items at the convention centre in Dallas (Sue Ogrocki/AP)

Survivors of the February 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 people dead are leading a massive national gun control movement.

Several groups have announced plans to protest over the weekend during the NRA event. The protesters will include parents of those killed in Parkland and other shootings.

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NRA member and Donald Trump supporter Jim Whelan, centre, speaks with protester David Lyles, right, outside the NRA annual meeting (Jeffrey McWhorter/AP)

The survivors’ campaign has not led to major changes from the White House or the Republican-led Congress but Mr Trump did briefly declare he would stand up to the powerful gun lobby.

He later backpedalled, expressing support for modest changes to the background check system, as well as arming teachers.

His attendance at this year’s NRA convention was announced just days ago and came after Vice President Mike Pence was already scheduled to appear.

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A Smith and Wesson .44 calibre revolver hangs on the hip of Johnathan Davis, as he voices his support for gun rights (Jeffrey McWhorter/AP)

Asked why Mr Trump was attending, given political tensions around gun violence, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said this week that safety was a “big priority”.

“We also support the Second Amendment, and strongly support it, and don’t see there to be a problem with speaking at the National Rifle Association’s meeting,” she said.

Mr Trump has long enjoyed strong backing from the NRA, which spent about 30 million US dollars (£22 million) supporting his presidential campaign.

Press Association

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