Trump to Speak at NRA Forum, First President to Do So Since 1983
(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump will speak at the National Rifle Association’s annual convention on April 28, becoming the first U.S. president to address the gun-rights group since Ronald Reagan in 1983.
“The NRA is honored to have the president address our annual meeting at the leadership forum,” said Jennifer Baker, a spokeswoman for the NRA. “We’re excited to once again have a president who respects the Second Amendment.”
The NRA endorsed Trump’s bid for president last May, after the then-candidate addressed the group’s annual forum in Louisville, Kentucky. Trump pledged at the time to “save our Second Amendment” and appoint judges which would support expansive gun rights.
His return visit to speak to the group’s 2017 Leadership Forum in Atlanta is likely to appeal to Trump’s base at a time when he has received criticism for reversing himself on promises to his most ardent supporters. At the same time, Trump’s speech to the influential lobby could repel Democrats and moderates who have been chafing under his presidency and have blocked some of his proposals from advancing in Congress.
The visit is scheduled for April 28, the last day of government funding under the current spending bill. If Congress doesn’t pass a new spending measure by that day, the government faces a partial shutdown.
While Trump has not yet signed significant legislation or executive orders on gun rights, his appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court was hailed by the NRA. Gorsuch took the seat vacated by Justice Antonin Scalia, who died last year and was part of a 5-4 majority in the pivotal D.C. v. Heller case. The ruling marked the first time the Supreme Court held that the Second Amendment protected an individual’s right to own a firearm for lawful purposes such as self-defense in the home.
The previous two Republican presidents -- George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush -- didn’t address the group during their presidencies. The younger Bush sent his vice president, Dick Cheney, to address the NRA’s convention in 2004 as he was seeking re-election. The elder Bush wrote a letter terminating his membership from the group in 1995 after an NRA fundraising letter described some federal agents as “jack-booted thugs.”
The White House confirmed Trump’s speaking plan, but didn’t offer additional comments.
Michael Bloomberg, the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, is an advocate of assault-weapon restrictions and serves on the advisory board of Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun-control group.