President Donald Trump’s speech to the National Rifle Association’s annual convention Friday in Dallas was a typically-Trumpian affair. It was energetic and covered a wide range of subjects — including, of course, gun rights, where the president promised to adamantly defend the Second Amendment.
“We recognize a simple fact,” Trump told the audience. “The one thing that has always stood between the American people’s Second Amendment right and those who want to take away those rights has been conservatives in Congress willing to fight for those rights.
“And we’re fighting,” he added.
“The Constitution cannot be changed by bureaucrats, judges or the United Nations. That’s why we are appointing judges who will interpret the Constitution as it’s written.”
Given that gun rights are a lightning rod, the speech at the NRA convention could have been politically dangerous.
This was doubly so considering the fact that Trump and the NRA had a bit of a falling out after the Parkland shooting in February, when the president seemed to argue for gun-control measures, including some that could abrogate due process when dealing with firearm owners believed to be dangerous.
“Before I left today a couple of people came up to me, good political people,” Trump told the audience. “They said, ‘you know, going to the NRA Convention and speaking today, that’ll be very controversial. It might not be popular.’
“You know what I said?” he continued. “‘Bye-bye, gotta get on the plane.'”
It likely wasn’t quite that simple. Given that the president and Vice President Mike Pence spoke from the dais on Friday, it was clear that the White House was (pun unintended) bringing out the big guns to make nice with the NRA after being called out by the organization.
Pence’s speech, a more restrained affair, noted that he was “a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order. And I’m a card-carrying member of the NRA.”
The vice president also used his speech to go after the media, challenging them to “(s)tart telling the whole story to the American people about firearms in this country.”
As for Trump, his remarks included jokes about how the media thought he could never get to 270 electoral votes, to name-checking the Battle of Gonzales, the first battle of the Texas Revolution and the origin of the phrase “come and take it.”
The speech wasn’t perfect from the perspective of Second Amendment proponents. As Jim Geraghty notes at National Review, neither speech contained any mention of nationwide concealed-carry reciprocity, which has been the chief legislative aim of the NRA and its members.
However, if that rankled anybody or if there was any lingering animosity over the events subsequent to the Parkland shooting, they weren’t on display. The president’s decision to go against the advice of a couple of “good political people,” it seems, has paid off after all.
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