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‘Best president for gun owners’ Trump to address National Rifle Association

Mr Trump has pledged to defend gun ownership and called himself ‘the best friend gun owners have ever had in the White House’.

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Donald Trump speaking during the NRA Convention in 2023

Former US president Donald Trump is expected to address thousands of members of the National Rifle Association (NRA) in Texas.

Mr Trump has pledged to continue to defend the Second Amendment of the US Constitution and called himself “the best friend gun owners have ever had in the White House” as the country faces record numbers of deaths due to mass shootings.

Last year ended with 42 mass killings and 217 deaths, making it one of the deadliest years on record.

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee has been criticised by US President Joe Biden, specifically for remarks he made earlier this year after a school shooting in Iowa, which he called “very terrible” only to later say that “we have to get over it. We have to move forward”.

Donald Trump
Donald Trump speaking at a campaign rally in Minnesota (AP Photo/Abbie Parr)

Speaking on Friday at a campaign event in Minnesota, Mr Trump said: “You know, it’s an amazing thing. People that have guns, people that legitimately have guns, they love guns and they use guns for the right purpose, but they tend to vote very little and yet they have to vote for us. There’s nobody else to vote for because the Democrats want to take their guns away and they will take their guns away.”

He added: “That’s why I’m going to be talking to the NRA tomorrow to say, ‘You gotta get out and vote.’”

Vice president Kamala Harris said in a statement before Mr Trump’s NRA appearance that “at a time when guns are the number one cause of death for children and teens in America, Donald Trump is catering to the gun lobby and threatening to make the crisis worse if re-elected”.

She said she and Mr Biden “will continue to take on the gun lobby to keep Americans safe, while Donald Trump will continue to sacrifice our kids’ and communities’ safety to keep these special interests happy”.

When Mr Trump was president, there were moments when he pledged to strengthen gun laws. After a high school mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people and wounded 17 others, Mr Trump told survivors and family members that he would be “very strong on background checks”. He claimed he would stand up to the NRA but later backpedalled, saying there was “not much political support”.

On Saturday, he is expected to give the keynote address as the powerful gun lobby holds a forum in Dallas. Republican Texas governer Greg Abbott will also speak at the convention. Prominent gun safety groups that have already endorsed Mr Biden are planning to demonstrate near the convention centre where the gun lobby plans to meet.

While Mr Trump sees strong support in Texas, Democrats think they have a chance at an upset in November with former NFL player US representative Colin Allred leading an underdog campaign to unseat Republican senator Ted Cruz. No Democrat has won a statewide office in Texas in 30 years, which is the longest streak of its kind in the US.

On Friday, Mr Trump campaigned in Minnesota after attending his son Barron’s high school graduation in Florida.

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