The Latest: Trump connects gun rights to GOP votes

May 4, 2018
President Donald Trump waves to the audience as Chris Cox, right, executive director of the National Rifle Association-Institute for Legislative Action Leadership Forum after Trump spoke at the annual meeting in Dallas, Friday, May 4, 2018. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump and the National Rifle Association (all times local):

7:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump is urging members of the National Rifle Association to elect more Republicans to Congress to defend gun rights.

Trump addressed the NRA’s annual convention in Dallas Friday.

He claimed that Democrats want to “outlaw guns” and said if the nation takes that drastic step, it might as well ban all vans and trucks because they are the new weapons for “maniac terrorists.”

Trump said: “We will never give up our freedom. We will live free and we will die free.”

The president is trying to rally pro-gun voters for the midterm congressional elections, telling them, “We’ve got to do great in ’18.”

Gun control advocates energized by recent shootings at schools, churches and elsewhere are also focused on those elections.


3:35 p.m.

President Donald Trump is reflecting on the February shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people.

Trump is addressing the annual National Rifle Association convention Friday in Dallas. He says the nation was filled with shock and grief upon learning of another attack on a school.

The president did not advocate for new gun control measures, such as increasing the age-limit for buying certain firearms.

He reiterated his support for allowing well trained teachers to carry concealed weapons, and having highly trained security guards in schools.

Trump says the strongest deterrent to would-be gun attackers is “the knowledge that their attack will end their life and end in total failure.”

He says “when they know that, they’re not going in.”


3:10 p.m.

President Donald Trump is making a specific link between the sanctity of the Second Amendment and Republicans’ prospects in the 2018 mid-term elections.

Trump says at the National Rifle Association annual convention that the only thing that has stood between the elimination of the Second Amendment has been conservatives in Congress “willing to fight for those rights.”

He is claiming that Democrats want to “outlaw guns” and says if the nation takes that step, it might as well ban all vans and trucks because they are the new form of death for “maniac terrorists.”

The president is imploring NRA members to help elect Republicans in the November elections.


3 p.m.

President Donald Trump is pointing to skepticism from a federal judge in Virginia who has questioned special counsel Robert Mueller’s authority to bring charges against the president’s former campaign chairman.

Trump is reading from a news article about the case at the National Rifle Association convention in Dallas.

The judge asked pointed questions about whether prosecutors are trying to get former campaign chairman Paul Manafort to “sing” against the president.

Trump asks whether this has “anything to do with the campaign?” The president says to cheers, “we’re all fighting battles but I love fighting these battles.”


2:50 p.m.

President Donald Trump is telling the National Rifle Association convention that his administration is fighting to protect their constitutional right to bear arms.

Trump told attendees on Friday in Dallas that they have an administration in Washington that is “fighting to protect your Second Amendment, and we will protect your Second Amendment.”

The president tells tens of thousands of attendees that their right to bear arms is “under siege.”

But he pledges that those rights “will never, ever be under siege as long as I’m your president.”

Trump did not elaborate on how the Second Amendment is under siege.

The president is addressing the NRA gathering nearly three months after a deadly shooting at high school in Parkland, Florida.


2:20 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence is offering a vigorous defense of the Second Amendment in an address to the National Rifle Association’s annual convention in Dallas.

Pence is pointing to the Trump administration’s work to address school security and support for changes to the background check system, as well as arming teachers.

The vice president says “the quickest way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

He is faulting media outlets for not telling “the whole story about firearms in America” and the role of “firearms in the hands of law-abiding citizens” making communities safer.

Pence was speaking ahead of President Donald Trump’s address to the NRA.


1:35 p.m.

President Donald Trump has arrived in Dallas, where he will speak to the annual gathering of the National Rifle Association.

A longtime supporter of the NRA, Trump said during the flight Friday that it was a “truly great organization.”

Trump is visiting the group after he temporarily strayed from its strong anti-gun control message in the wake of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting, only to later return to the fold.

This marks Trump’s fourth visit to the annual meeting. Last year he became the first sitting president to address the convention in decades.

The president will be joined at the NRA event by Vice President Mike Pence.


12:50 p.m.

President Donald Trump says the National Rifle Association is a “great organization that loves this country.”

Trump spoke to reporters Friday aboard Air Force One as he flew to Dallas to address the organization’s annual convention for the fourth consecutive time.

More than 70,000 NRA members are expected to attend. The event is also drawing protests, including by those who lost loved ones to gun violence.

Trump’s appearance comes after he temporarily strayed from NRA dogma opposing stronger gun control after the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida, earlier this year — only to return to the fold.

Trump also said he has a “record crowd” attending the convention.


1:15 a.m.

President Donald Trump is set to address the National Rifle Association just two months after declaring that he would stand up to the powerful gun lobby following a deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

He later backpedaled on that tough talk.

On Friday, Trump will speak to the NRA in Dallas as the issue of gun violence takes on new urgency after one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history.

During a televised meeting with lawmakers in late February, two weeks after the Parkland shooting, Trump wagged his finger at a Republican senator and scolded him for being “afraid of the NRA,” saying he would get results in quelling gun violence.

But Trump later expressed support for only modest changes to the background check system and proposed arming teachers.

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