The NRA endorsed Trump for president last May and poured money into his campaign after he addressed the forum last year. Trump frequently spoke out in support of the right to carry guns and against “gun-free zones” on the campaign trail. At one point, he urged “Second Amendment people” to do something about Hillary Clinton — a call many viewed as urging violence against his rival, which he denied.
“If she gets to pick her judges ― nothing you can do, folks,” Trump said at a North Carolina rally last August, after suggesting Clinton would destroy gun rights. “Although, the Second Amendment people. Maybe there is. I don’t know.”
Trump’s Supreme Court judge Neil Gorsuch is a staunch backer of the Second Amendment. The president has also been hacking away at gun restrictions, most notably signing a law eliminating an Obama administration background check requirement aimed at blocking gun sales to certain mentally ill people.
The NRA is over the moon about Trump’s appearance on April 28.
“The NRA is honored to have the president address our annual meeting at the leadership forum,” spokeswoman Jennifer Baker told Bloomberg. “We’re excited to once again have a president who respects the Second Amendment.”
Trump’s son, Donald Jr., a big game hunter, is also a darling of the NRA. He headed up his father’s Second Amendment Coalition advisory group. He’s behind a current push to ease restrictions on the sale of silencers.
Trump is the first president to address the NRA’s leadership forum since Ronald Reagan did so 34 years ago. Dick Cheney spoke at the convention in 2004 when he was vice president. George H.W. Bush dropped his NRA membership in 1995 after an organization letter described some federal agents as “jack-booted thugs,” Bloomberg noted.
Trump’s secretary of the interior, Ryan Zinke, is also expected to speak at the forum, as are Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), according to the NRA website.
The convention, expected to be attended by some 80,000 people, will run from April 27-30. April 28 is the last day of government funding under the current spending bill. The government faces a partial shutdown if Congress doesn’t pass a new spending measure by then, and things could be tense back in Washington.