This weekend, the NRA will be holding a major conference in Dallas, Texas, and none other than President Donald Trump will be in attendance. And although he's currently positioned more or less in line with all of the pro-gun lobbying organization's views, it hasn't always been that way. To the contrary,
Trump flip-flopped on gun control and the NRA more than you might expect for a right-wing Republican president.
Whether comparing his currently stated views to some of the stances he laid out prior to becoming a politician, or even comparing his
rhetoric immediately following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, to what it is now, Trump has pulled a few gun-related switch-ups in his day.
This is noteworthy, because there aren't very many special interest lobbies in American life that wield more power, and enjoy more uniform support from the GOP, than the NRA does. It's widely considered one of the most powerful and influential lobbying groups in the country, and certainly as far as the gun rights movement in America is concerned, it has no serious rivals.
It's worth mentioning, however, that despite Trump's slightly back-and-forth wobbliness on guns since becoming president, as his attendance at the upcoming NRA rally shows, he seems back on-board with the organization now. That said, here are some of his shifts over time.
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Back in 2000, in his book
The America We Deserve, Trump wrote that while he considered himself generally against gun control, he nonetheless was critical of Republicans who "walk the NRA line" by refusing even modest gun restrictions. He also freely admitted that he supported the assault weapons ban.
"I generally oppose gun control, but I support the ban on assault weapons and I also support a slightly longer waiting period to purchase a gun,"
he wrote, as detailed by ABC News. "With today's Internet technology we should be able to tell within seventy-two hours if a potential gun owner has a record."
He made it clear he was no fan of the Democratic Party's attitude toward guns either, however, accusing it of wanting to "confiscate" firearms from Americans.
Respect The Second Amendment
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In a shift from his 2000-era leaning toward moderation, throughout his presidential campaign, Trump was extremely vociferous in his anti-gun control and pro-Second Amendment views, repeatedly pledging to prevent any infringements on the rights of gun owners.
He also flipped on the assault weapons ban, making it clear that he no longer supported it. During one of the presidential debates, he suggested that gun rights would be of paramount concern when he picked a Supreme Court justice.
"People that will respect the U.S. Constitution," Trump responded during the debate,
when asked what he'd look for in a justice. "Also, the Second Amendment, which is totally under siege by people like Clinton. They'll respect the Second Amendment and what it stands for, what it represents."
With the glare of the national spotlight in the immediate aftermath of the Parkland shooting, however, Trump seemed to break from NRA orthodoxy, going so far as to suggest that
guns be seized from people suspected of being dangerous without due process. He also embraced a ban on bump stocks, a form of firearm accessory that allows semi-automatic weapons to simulate a near fully automatic rate of fire, and endorsed raising the minimum age to purchase assault rifles.
The Backtrack Didn't Take Long
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Just a week after his post-Parkland suggestion about raising the minimum age on rifle purchases, however ― and following a lunch with NRA executives ―
Trump backed off of that idea. And the proposals he started putting forward sounded a lot more like, well, ones favorable to the NRA. For example, one of his most prominent and controversial suggestions was to give certain teachers in schools guns of their own, so that they could themselves kill or disable an active shooter. This is very similar to what NRA chief Wayne LaPierre has been arguing for, insisting that there needs to be more security, and thus more guns, on school campuses.
The Second Amendment Will Never Be Repealed
At the end of March, after former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens wrote an op-ed for
The New York Times calling for the repeal of the Second Amendment, Trump responded on Twitter, in an all-caps, culture war-stoking statement: "THE SECOND AMENDMENT WILL NEVER BE REPEALED!"
Now, just slightly more than one month later, Trump will be
headed to Texas to address the NRA convention, in what you'd imagine will be a solidly pro-gun rights speech. In short, with his support for the NRA becoming clearer than ever, it remains to be seen whether any new gun-related proposals will end up getting his signature, if they even make it through Congress.