Is The NRA Convention A Gun-Free Zone? The Rules Can Be All Kinds Of Ironic
When President Donald Trump appears Friday at the National Rifle Association convention in Dallas, there won't be any civilian-held guns permitted in the room. The dark irony of that paradox is not confined to a single event, either — despite his closeness to the NRA and fondness for pro-Second Amendment rhetoric, civilian guns are never allowed anywhere near Trump.
The reasons are obvious. As president of the United States, Trump is one of the top targets for assassination in the world. That's the case for any POTUS, and so the Secret Service understandably mandates extensive security at public events (like the Friday NRA speech) to help them do their job — protect the president's life.
His shielding from civilian guns began when Trump was just a candidate. As The Mercury News pointed out, the future Republican nominee was already hosting gun-free campaign events in 2015. Secret Service details for presidential hopefuls were prompted by the 1968 assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, a then-presidential candidate himself. Trump requested such protection early in his campaign and was granted it.
And it's the Secret Service that NRA big-wig Dana Loesch referred to in defending the gun-free Friday speeches. "NRA banned nothing," she tweeted, writing that it was "Secret Service SOP" ― standard operating procedure ― responsible for the gun ban.
Still, as 99.99 percent of Trump's constituents know well, there's no 24-hour Secret Service protection for them. At schools, college campuses, office buildings, parks, churches, synagogues, mosques, movie theaters — pretty much any public space save the ticketed side of airport security — the possibility of armed and loaded fellow citizens is real. And no one supports that reality quite so consistently and vehemently as the NRA.
And thus came the cries of hypocrisy. Matt Deitsch, a graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and activist for gun control reform, tweeted, "Wait wait wait wait wait wait you're tellming [sic] me to make the VP safe there aren't any weapons around but when it comes to children they want guns everywhere?" Cameron Kasky, a fellow gun control activist and Stoneman Douglas student, tweeted that the "NRA has evolved into such a hilarious parody of itself." He accompanied his comment with a screenshot of the announcement that Vice President Mike Pence's presence meant guns would be banned during Friday's NRA convention.
But it wasn't just the students personally impacted by the tragic loss of 17 lives in February's mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who had questions about the apparent double standard on gun-toting. Several Los Angeles Times readers sent letters to the paper's editor questioning the rationale for special no-gun policies for the president and vice president.
"Where is Wayne LaPierre's outrage?" wrote Beryl Arbit of Encino. Referencing the CEO of the NRA, Arbit went on, "The prospect that all of those law-abiding, responsible, gun-toting good guys will be prohibited by a government agency from exercising their constitutional rights ought to give the outspoken NRA executive vice president and CEO apoplexy."
While LaPierre has ostensibly spent a lifetime supporting gun owners' rights, Trump has not. As Newsweek notes, in his 2000 book The America We Deserve, Trump argued in favor of a ban on assault weapons. He also said he was all for "slightly longer" waiting periods for persons seeking to purchase a weapon.
Add that to the fact several of Trump's properties reported in 2016 that guns were not allowed on their premises. ABC News spoke to several staff members at multiple Trump properties, many of them reporting that guns were either not allowed on their grounds, or that they'd "much rather not" have guests bring guns onto the property. According to a staff member at Mar-a-Lago, that policy included the president's so-called "Winter White House."
Clearly, Friday's gun-free speech at the NRA convention in Dallas isn't much of a divergence for Trump — he's not often been near civilian-held guns.