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Donald Trump and the NRA are Limping Into the RNC Convention After Failing to Keep Americans Safe From Gun Violence

August 24, 2020

While NRA Has Yet to Receive a Confirmed Speaking Slot, the Program is Set to Feature Gun Extremists
There will be no Mention of Common-Sense Gun Measures Despite National Polling that Shows Intensity of Support for Gun Safety Measures Surged Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic

NEW YORK –– With the Republican National Convention beginning today, Everytown for Gun Safety and its grassroots networks, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, released the following statements about the ways in which President Donald Trump has made gun violence worse since 2016.

“While it’s still unclear if the NRA will have a speaking role at the Republican National Convention, it’s undeniable that they’ve been scripting President Trump’s non-response to America’s gun violence crisis for the last four years,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “And the NRA aside, Trump has already packed the speakers list with gun rights extremists, a move that is sure to alienate the clear majority of voters who are sick and tired of lawmakers who take orders from the gun lobby.”

“Instead of taking meaningful action to stop gun violence, President Trump has actually encouraged it by blocking common-sense gun laws, bowing to the NRA, inciting violence, and fanning the flames of white supremacy,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “But it’s not only Trump’s agenda that’s an unmitigated disaster — his friends over at the NRA have run the organization’s finances and reputation into the ground. As a result, both Trump and the NRA are limping into this convention.”

Though the NRA has yet to receive a confirmed speaking slot, as they have during previous conventions, the program is set to feature gun extremists, with no mention of the common-sense gun safety laws that would protect Americans and save lives.

More than one hundred Americans are shot and killed every day –– and twice that many have been wounded –– in mass shootings, incidents of daily gun violence, unintentional gun violence, and gun suicide. But instead of taking meaningful action to reduce gun violence, President Trump has blocked common-sense gun laws, bowed to the NRA, incited violence, and fanned the flames of white supremacy.

Here are eights ways President Trump, with help from the corrupt NRA, has failed to keep Americans safe from gun violence.

  • He promised to veto bipartisan legislation to require background checks on all gun sales: More than a year ago, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 8––a bill to require background checks on all gun sales––with support from 93 percent of American voters and a bipartisan coalition in Congress. But it has sat on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s desk ever since, untouched and unpassed, because Sen. McConnell and President Trump refuse to support it
  • He backtracked and failed to support red flag laws: Red flag laws are extremely popular measures that empower family members and law enforcement to ask a judge to temporarily remove a person’s guns when there is evidence that person poses a risk to themselves or others. After last year’s mass shootings in Dayton and El Paso, President Trump promised to support these life-saving measures –– but he’s since abandoned the idea.  
  • He has made it easier for criminals to access ghost guns: In January, President Trump enabled the online posting of schematics for downloadable, untraceable guns––a move that could allow terrorists, convicted felons, and domestic abusers to 3D print untraceable and undetectable weapons. President Trump has also failed to address the rising problem of ghost guns made at home from parts available without a background check––which have emerged as a weapon of choice for gun traffickers, violent criminals and extremists.
  • He allowed the background system to be overwhelmed during COVID-19, and for tens of thousands of gun sales to proceed without a completed background check: Over a year ago, the House passed H.R. 1112 to address the Charleston loophole that allows gun sales to proceed after three business days even if the background check is not completed. The Charleston loophole has been exacerbated during the pandemic and an Everytown FOIA found 76,000 gun sales that could be made without a check in just March. President Trump has failed to address the loophole and is deleting records of background checks that have not been completed.
  • He has failed to provide critical federal funding to address city gun violence: In the face of persistent and increasing gun violence in American cities during the coronavirus pandemic, he has not prioritized funding the violence intervention programs proven to prevent city gun violence.
  • He made it possible for people suffering from severe mental illness to buy guns: In 2017, President Trump quietly reversed an Obama-era rule, thus making it possible for people who were found to be unable to manage their financial affairs as a result of their mental impairment to buy guns.
  • He lifted the ban on silencer sales to unfriendly governments and foreign companies, endangering the lives of U.S. troops: At the behest of a former lobbyist for the gun industry, President Trump ended the ban on silencers being sold overseas. The decision reportedly “thrilled” the gun industry, but military experts “expressed alarm,” because the ban was “intended to prevent American equipment from making its way to hostile groups that might use it against American service members.”  
  • He has caved to the NRA at every turn: After receiving $30 million in political support from the NRA in 2016, the Trump administration has shaped policies at the NRA’s behest. President Trump has also repeatedly spoken with NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre, who asked the president to “stop the games” around gun safety legislation after last year’s mass shootings. Shortly after, President Trump obliged.

Unfortunately for President Trump as he heads into the RNC, a lot has changed since 2016 — the gun safety movement has never been stronger and the gun lobby has never been weaker.

Unlike in 2016, when the NRA was President Trump’s largest outside backer, today’s NRA is drowning in lawsuits and legal fees brought on by their own corruption and self-dealing, while support for stronger gun laws is at an all-time high.

The NRA, its CEO Wayne LaPierre, and three other current or former NRA executives now face a lawsuit filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James, which seeks dissolution of the organization and includes 18 causes of action pertaining to allegations of self-dealing and corruption. Washington D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine has also sued the NRA allegedly exerting undue influence over the NRA Foundation. Even before the lawsuits, LaPierre admitted earlier this year in a “secret recording” that the NRA took a “$100 million hit” from prior investigations and costly litigation with its former public relations partner, and was forced to take the organization “down to the studs” in order to survive. The NRA has since reportedly laid off or furloughed at least 200 staffers.

And since President Trump’s election in 2016, the NRA has consistently lost at the ballot box, too:

  • In 2017, Virginians elected a gun sense governor in the NRA’s own backyard. 
  • In 2018, gun safety groups, led by Everytown, outspent the NRA, helping flip the U.S. House to a gun sense majority, which promptly passed a suite of gun safety measures.
  • Everytown was the largest outside spender in Virginia’s 2019 elections, outspending the NRA by 4:1 and helping flip both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly to a gun sense majority for the first time in decades.

More information on gun violence in the United States is available here.

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