Trump tells gun lobby it has a friend in the White House

, 7:01 AM IST
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Atlanta: US President Donald Trump on Friday told members of the National Rifle Association (NRA), the biggest lobby on behalf of gun ownership in the country, that they have a friend in the White House and promised never to act against the right to bear arms.

“The eight-year assault on your Second Amendment freedoms has come to a crashing end. You have a true friend and champion in the White House,” EFE news quoted Trump as saying in a speech at the NRA’s annual convention in Atlanta, Georgia.

“I will never, ever infringe upon the right of the people to keep and bear arms. Freedom is not a gift from government, freedom is a gift from God,” he added.

Trump is the first sitting US President to address the annual NRA convention since Ronald Reagan in 1983, a fact he noted with pride while praising the public support this powerful pressure group gave him during the 2016 electoral campaign.

“You came through big for me, and I am going to come through for you,” said the US President, who on Saturday will complete his first 100 days in power.

Trump urged his audience to be “vigilant” toward those who attack the right to bear arms as guaranteed by the Second Amendment of the US Constitution.

“When you ban guns, only criminals will be armed,” Trump said, arguing that gun ownership saves lives.

“For too long Washington has gone after law-abiding gun owners while making life easier for criminals, drug dealers, traffickers, and gang members. MS-13, you know about MS-13? It’s not pleasant for them anymore folks, it’s not pleasant for them anymore. That’s a bad group. Not pleasant for MS-13. Get ’em the hell out of here, right? Get ’em out,” Trump said.

Trump’s position on arms control contrasts totally with that of former President Barack Obama, who said on several occasions that one of his greatest frustrations was not being able to prevent the deaths of innocent people in the shootings that occur so regularly in the United States.

Obama in 2013 sought a measure to control gun ownership — a background check of gun buyers — but Congress would pass no such law nor did the idea gain much support in the country, thanks largely to the NRA’s powerful political influence.

Trump joked on Friday about the scant probability that any Democratic candidate for the 2020 presidential elections will come speak at the NRA convention, particularly if it is “Pocahontas,” the nickname he uses for progressive Senator Elizabeth Warren.

–IANS