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Donald Trump Clarifies Position On Gun Control At National Rifle Association


As the de facto Republican nominee, Donald Trump is working to shore up support from the party's base. This afternoon, he sought to reassure a group that has consistently turned out for Republican candidates, members of the National Rifle Association. But, as NPR's Sarah McCammon reports, Trump's position on gun rights hasn't always been in line with the NRA.

SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: Donald Trump took the stage in Louisville, Ky., moments after receiving the NRA's official endorsement. He wasted no time in going after his likely Democratic rival on gun rights.


DONALD TRUMP: Hillary Clinton wants to abolish the Second Amendment. Just remember that. We're not talking about changing it. She wants to abolish the Second Amendment. So we're not going to let that happen.

MCCAMMON: Clinton has never called for abolishing the Second Amendment. She wants stricter background checks and to give families of victims the right to sue gunmakers. Trump, though, called Clinton unqualified and predicted that the former secretary of state would appoint justices to the U.S. Supreme Court who would erode their gun rights.


TRUMP: You know, they keep chipping away. They talk about the magazines. They talk about the bullets. We're going to take care of it.

MCCAMMON: Trump hasn't always opposed stricter weapons laws. In his 2000 book, "The America We Deserve," Trump wrote, quote, "the Republicans walk the NRA line and refuse even limited restrictions." Trump wrote that he'd support an assault weapons ban and longer waiting periods to buy guns. While running for president, Trump abandoned those positions and fully embraced the NRA.


TRUMP: When you look at Paris, you know, the toughest gun laws in the world, Paris, nobody had guns but the bad guys.

MCCAMMON: After the Paris terrorist attacks in November, Trump argued on CNN that more guns in the hands of the right people might have reduced the number of casualties. He's made similar arguments about mass shootings last year in San Bernardino, Calif., and at a community college in Oregon. Here he is on NBC's "Meet The Press."


TRUMP: You can make the case that it would've been a lot better had people had guns because they had something to fire back.

MCCAMMON: Advocates for stricter gun laws argue that would only lead to more deaths. In a conference call hosted by the Democratic National Committee, family members of gun violence victims denounced Trump. Tom Mauser's son, Daniel, was killed in the Columbine High School shooting in 1999.


TOM MAUSER: It seems to me that the GOP has told Trump that this is one issue, this is one place, where he cannot stray, that he has to worship at the altar of the NRA on these issues.

MCCAMMON: Speaking to the NRA, Trump doubled down.


TRUMP: Gun-free zones. We're getting rid of gun-free zones, OK?

MCCAMMON: But guns won't be allowed at this summer's Republican National Convention. Except for law enforcement, they're also not permitted at the White House or on Capitol Hill. Looking ahead, Trump told the crowd the Second Amendment is on the November ballot.


TRUMP: The only way to save our Second Amendment is to vote for a person that you all know named Donald Trump, OK? I will tell you. I will never let you down. I will protect our Second Amendment.

MCCAMMON: Support from the NRA could help Trump solidify the GOP's conservative base behind him, but this isn't a primary anymore. If he wants to win the presidency, he'll likely need to appeal to more moderate voters. Sarah McCammon, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Sarah McCammon worked for Iowa Public Radio as Morning Edition Host from January 2010 until December 2013.
Sarah McCammon
Sarah McCammon is a National Correspondent covering the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast for NPR. Her work focuses on political, social and cultural divides in America, including abortion and reproductive rights, and the intersections of politics and religion. She's also a frequent guest host for NPR news magazines, podcasts and special coverage.
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