US Elections 2024: Donald Trump pledges to roll back Joe Biden’s gun controls if elected, accepts gun lobby endorsement

The National Rifle Association, which is the US' top gun rights group has now endorsed Republican Donald Trump three times — in 2016, 2020 and 2024.

Gram Slattery (with inputs from Reuters)
First Published19 May 2024
US Presidential Elections 2024: Former US President and current Republican candidate Donald Trump speaks during the National Rifle Association Convention in Dallas (Texas, US), on May 18
US Presidential Elections 2024: Former US President and current Republican candidate Donald Trump speaks during the National Rifle Association Convention in Dallas (Texas, US), on May 18(AP Photo / LM Otero)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump pledged to unravel gun regulations put in place by Democratic President Joe Biden during a lengthy speech to the National Rifle Association on Saturday, during which he accepted the influential group's endorsement.

The address to thousands of NRA members at the group's annual Leadership Forum in Dallas was light on new policy, but he used the platform to urge gun supporters to go to the polls in the November election.

"We've got to get gun owners to vote," Trump said in his wide-ranging speech, which covered everything from his criminal trials to trade and immigration over more than 90 minutes.

"I think you're a rebellious bunch. But let's be rebellious and vote this time."

The nation's top gun rights group has now endorsed Trump three times - in 2016, 2020 and 2024.

The organization had cheered on Trump during his 2017-2021 term, as he appointed three conservative justices to the Supreme Court and took a series of steps sought by the gun lobby. That included designating firearm shops as essential businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing them to stay open.

During the speech, Trump repeated a pledge to fire the director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, known as the ATF, on Day One of a potential administration. He accused that agency, which enforces U.S. gun laws, of being heavy-handed with firearm owners and revoking licenses on frivolous grounds.

Republicans largely oppose stricter gun laws, saying the right to bear arms is established in the U.S. Constitution's Second Amendment. That stance has remained fixed even in the face of a steady stream of mass shootings that have led to calls from many Democrats to impose more controls on guns.

"In my second term, we will roll back every Biden attack on the Second Amendment. The attacks are coming fast and furious," Trump said.

Following the speech, the Biden campaign accused Trump of prioritizing the desires of the gun lobby over public safety. Trump and Biden are set to face off in the general election on Nov. 5.

"Tonight, Donald Trump confirmed that he will do exactly what the NRA tells him to do - even if it means more death, more shootings, and more suffering," Biden campaign spokesperson Ammar Moussa said.

As in previous addresses, Trump repeated a false claim that he won the 2020 election, and he went after Biden in aggressive terms, repeating claims of corruption that are not supported by available evidence.

Trump also unleashed a torrent of attacks on independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. who is running a distant third and siphoning off votes from both frontrunners.

Surveys show gun regulations are a divisive issue in the U.S., though a strong majority of Americans support at least some limits.

In a March Reuters/Ipsos survey, 53% of respondents said the government should regulate gun ownership, while 38% of respondents disagreed. Among Republicans, only 35% said the government should be involved.

The four-day annual NRA convention gathered tens of thousands of gun enthusiasts and dealers, with many in the heavily Republican crowd wearing Trump gear.

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