The president of the United States and the vice president are speaking at this year’s NRA Convention in Dallas. Last year was the first time a sitting president attended the convention since 1983. This will be the fourth consecutive year that President Donald Trump has spoken at the NRA Convention. It makes sense, considering the NRA was arguably Trump’s best ally, endorsing him earlier than it has ever endorsed a presidential candidate before. The NRA was also President Trump’s largest outside financial backer, spending more than $30 million to support his campaign.
The NRA’s 2016 election spending to elect Trump has recently attracted scrutiny due to the NRA’s relationship with a Russian banker, politician and ally of Vladimir Putin who is reportedly at the center of an FBI probe into “whether Russian money went to [the] NRA to help Trump” in 2016.
At last year’s NRA convention, President Trump promised NRA leaders “I’ll never, ever let you down,” and he hasn’t. Along with Vice President Mike Pence, President Trump has stood with the NRA instead of the American people when it comes to gun safety.
Before the Las Vegas, Sutherland Spring and Parkland mass shootings:
- President Trump signed a law repealing the Social Security Administration rule on record submission to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System for disability recipients prohibited from possessing guns due to severely mental illness;
- As a result, Everytown estimates that more than 400,000 prohibiting records will not make their way into the system, and people with severe mental illness — who are prohibited from having guns — will be able to pass a background check and get armed.
- President Trump narrowed the definition of who is a fugitive under federal law, a little-noticed policy change that allows more people on the run from the law to pass a background check and get their hands on guns.
- In the first year after the policy came into place, the number of background check denials to fugitives plummeted by 80 percent.
After the Parkland mass shooting, President Trump stood beside the NRA once more. After meeting with students, parents and gun violence survivors after the Parkland mass shooting and hosting a roundtable on gun policy with Senators and Members of Congress, President Trump and Vice President Pence met with the NRA’s top lobbyist Chris Cox. After, President Trump declined to support common-sense gun safety measures such as requiring criminal background checks on all gun sales, something supported by 97 percent of American voters. He would not get behind legislation to enact a federal Red Flags law, which would enable law enforcement and family members to intervene when a person sends up red flags that they pose a danger to themselves or others with a gun. Instead, he joined the NRA in a dangerous push for arming teachers.
And, President Trump has repeatedly voiced support for the NRA’s top legislative priorities: a bill to gut silencer safety laws and “Concealed Carry Reciprocity” legislation, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives in December and would override states’ gun laws on who is allowed to carry concealed handguns, and make our communities less safe.
As Vice President Mike Pence takes the stage at the NRA Convention tomorrow, here’s some context on why the NRA is thrilled to host the Vice President:
Before Mike Pence became Vice President, he had a long political career of supporting dangerous policies pushed by the gun lobby—all while receiving funding from the gun lobby to support his political ambitions. Rather than strengthening public safety laws—even as Indiana continued to supply crime guns to cities around the country—Governor Pence parroted the gun lobby’s talking points and promoted its extremist agenda of pushing guns everywhere, for everyone, no questions asked. More on Governor Pence’s history with guns and the NRA is available here.
Pence received an ‘A’ grade and an endorsement from the NRA in each election cycle between 2002 and 2012. While in Congress, Pence voted for “concealed carry reciprocity” – now the NRA’s top legislative priority.
Pence also voted to shield gun manufacturers from liability – known as the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act – and as Indiana governor, he expanded a state version of the law.
Over the course of his political career, gun rights groups have contributed more than $35,000 to Pence, with the NRA contributing $28,000.
The laws enacted by then-Governor Pence further undermined Indiana’s already weak gun laws – which pose a dire cost for other states. Over five years, 10,000 guns sold in Indiana were recovered at crime scenes outside the state and successfully traced. Between 2009-2013, nearly 1 in 5 guns recovered at Chicago crime scenes was sourced from Indiana, making it the largest out-of-state source for crime guns. Because Indiana doesn’t require background checks for gun sales beyond federal requirements, it is an easy target for gun traffickers. For example, between 2009-2013, 22 crime guns recovered in Chicago were traced to a single Indiana purchaser.