Trump to address gun-free NRA meeting

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Child holds rifle at NRA convention Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The NRA’s website advertises that the Dallas exhibition will feature “15 acres” of firearms

US President Donald Trump will speak at the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) annual meeting in Texas along with Vice-President Mike Pence.

After a Florida school shooting in February, Mr Trump said he would “fight” the gun lobby but later said there was “not much political support”.

This is Mr Trump’s fourth address to the NRA and his second in office – the first president to do so in 30 years.

Guns are banned from the speeches due to security concerns.

The safety protocol has drawn outrage from gun control groups, who are calling it hypocritical.

Student survivors of the Parkland, Florida school shooting have criticised the gun lobby for allowing the ban, saying schools deserve the same safety.

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An estimated 80,000 people are expected to attend this year’s convention in Dallas.

When Mr Trump spoke at an NRA event in Atlanta last year, a similar weapons ban was imposed.

The president is expected to reiterate his staunch support for gun rights ahead of mid-term elections.

The NRA supported Mr Trump during his 2016 presidential election, spending over $11m (£8m) in campaign advertisements for Mr Trump, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics.

After the high school shooting in Parkland, Florida left 17 dead, Mr Trump told a gathering of state officials: “Don’t worry about the NRA, they’re on our side.”

“But sometimes we’re going to have to be very tough and we’re going to have to fight them.”

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At the time the president appeared to support some gun regulation measures: raising the age limit of purchasing rifles, closing background check loopholes and finding ways to seize firearms from individuals with mental illness.

Mr Trump appeared to walk back his suggestions and instead pushed a proposal to provide firearms training to school employees.

The White House has defended the president’s upcoming NRA address in the face of sharp criticism from gun control groups, who have been increasingly vocal since the Parkland school massacre.

At a news conference on Tuesday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said while safety is a priority of the president’s, so is the Second Amendment, which states it is the right of the people to bear arms.

“We also support the Second Amendment, and strongly support it, and don’t see there to be a problem with speaking at the National Rifle Association’s meeting,” Mrs Sanders said.

The last president to address the gun rights lobby was President Ronald Reagan in 1983.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption President Donald Trump is expected to express his support of gun rights at the Dallas convention, as he did at the NRA’s Atlanta gathering ast year

The president met an NRA lobbyist in the Oval Office in March, later tweeting that the meeting was “good (great)”.

The lobbyist, Chris Cox, also tweeted a response, saying the meeting confirmed that the president and vice-president “don’t want gun control”.

The administration, however, has taken steps toward banning bump-stock devices.

Bump stocks allow a rifle to shoot hundreds of rounds a minute. A bump-stock device was used in the mass shooting in Las Vegas last October where 59 people were killed.

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