“Gun-free zones” around schools, theaters and other public places should be eliminated and more law-abiding Americans should be armed to thwart criminals, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump told thousands of people attending the National Rifle Association’s annual convention Friday.
Trump and two Kentucky Republicans — U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, who is running for re-election, and Gov. Matt Bevin — told the assembled NRA members that the outcome of the presidential election will mean the difference between liberty or, under Democrat Hillary Clinton, a tyrannical government that will take their guns. The politicians all won cheers and applause.
For good measure, as they introduced Trump, top NRA executives officially endorsed him for president.
“Hillary Clinton wants to abolish the Second Amendment, just remember that,” Trump told the roaring crowd. “We’re not talking about changing it. She wants to abolish the Second Amendment. So we’re not going to let that happen, I can tell you that right now. We’re going to preserve it. We’re going to cherish it. We’re going to take care of it, OK? They keep chipping away, you know, talking about the magazines, talking about the bullets. But we’re gonna take care of it.”
It’s foolish to think that removing guns from a place makes it safer, Trump declared in the cavernous Freedom Hall, the one spot at the NRA convention where guns were not permitted because of rules issued by the U.S. Secret Service. In recent terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., gun-toting “thugs” were able to kill large numbers of people because they knew all of their victims were unarmed, Trump said. If other people at those attacks had been armed, “you would have had bullets going in the other direction and, believe me, the carnage would not have been the same.”
In his speech, Paul also criticized gun-free zones and local gun-control laws. High-crime cities like Chicago and Washington, D.C., make it next to impossible for citizens to legally purchase a firearm, while the criminals seem to have no problem, Paul said. Paul touted an amendment he attached last winter to the District of Columbia’s federal appropriations bill in an effort to legalize concealed carry permits in the capital city.
Referring to mass shootings at American schools, Paul said, “None of us are immune to the heart-wrenching pain of seeing children slaughtered. But we must ask ourselves, how can we best protect our children and protect our rights? The debate over these senseless mass murders, as painful as it has been, has brought some insight. These terrible and recurrent tragedies keep occurring in one place: gun-free zones. These terrible tragedies keep happening in areas we have pre-announced are defenseless.”
“Look, I’ve got children,” Paul continued. “I can’t imagine one of my kids being killed at school by a deranged killer. But as a physician, I was trained to solve problems, to get beyond emotions and and provide answers. For the life of me, I can’t imagine how we can legislate away evil. I can imagine, though, how we can remove the obstacles to self-defense.”
Trump and Paul both mentioned District of Columbia v. Heller, the 5-to-4 U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2008 that struck down some local gun-control measures and established the right “to keep and bear arms” as an individual right not required to be associated with militia service. Given the death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, the next president will get at least one appointment to the court, and possibly as many as three to five, Trump said.
Hillary Clinton would appoint judges committed to overturning the Heller decision, while a President Trump will name judges who support gun rights, Trump said.
He called on Clinton to release the names of potential Supreme Court nominees she might select if elected.
“I’m going to put criminals behind bars and guarantee that law-abiding citizens have the right to self-defense, 100 percent,” Trump said.
Trump and Paul told the NRA members they are proud gun owners themselves.
“There are 13 million right-to-carry permit holders in the United States. I happen to be one of them,” Trump said, to laughter. “Nobody knows that. Boy, would I surprise somebody if they hit Trump! If I wasn’t surrounded by, like, the largest group of Secret Service people.”
Minutes later, in his own speech, Paul said, “I’m a defender of the Second Amendment. If you don’t believe me, come to my house unannounced.”
Apart from gun rights, Trump said he would strengthen America’s military, “knock the hell out of ISIS,” build “a great wall” along the Mexican border and enact a tariff so high that American manufacturers won’t want to send factory jobs to other countries anymore because it would cost them too much to bring the finished products back. He said he’ll also repeal Obamacare “and replace it with something great, believe me.”
Americans won’t fear the future anymore under a Trump presidency, he said.
“We’re gonna bring it back to a real place where we don’t have to be so frightened, we don’t have to be so afraid, and you know what’s happening in the schools and you know what’s happening everywhere. We’re going to bring it back. You folks are gonna be so happy, you’re gonna be so proud of your country again, just you remember,” he said, as some people leaped to their feet, applauding.
“We’re going to become a strong nation again,” Trump said. “We are going to win, win, win. We are going to win with military. We’re going to win at the borders. We’re going to win with trade. We’re going to win at everything. And some of you are friends. And you’re gonna call. And you’re gonna say, ‘Mr. President, we can’t take it anymore, we can’t win anymore like this. Mr. President, you’re driving us crazy! You’re winning too much! Please, Mr. President, not so much with the winning.’ And I’m going to say, ‘I’m sorry, but we’re going to keep winning.’”