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Trump addresses NRA's annual meeting, urges them to vote

TAMARA KEITH, HOST:

The National Rifle Association is holding its annual convention this weekend in Dallas. This year, the convention comes as the organization is regrouping after a civil trial in New York found its former CEO had misspent millions of dollars, some of it on luxuries for himself. The convention comes as the two-year anniversary of the Uvalde shooting is just days away. Former President Donald Trump was the keynote speaker. Caroline Love from member station KERA in Dallas was at the convention and joins us now. Good morning, Caroline.

CAROLINE LOVE, BYLINE: Hey there.

KEITH: Let's start with Trump. What did he have to say?

LOVE: So Trump was speaking with a friendly crowd. The NRA endorsed him at the leadership forum where the speeches were held. And he had a lot of the hallmarks of his campaign speeches. He repeated misinformation that the 2020 election was stolen and referred to people who were arrested for participating in the January 6 Capitol riots as hostages. He also made several disparaging remarks about President Joe Biden. And Trump's in the middle of a criminal hush money trial in New York. He also has three other criminal indictments. And he compared his indictments to Biden's efforts to enact gun restrictions.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DONALD TRUMP: They want to take away your rights. Well, I know that better than anybody. They want to take away my rights better than anybody.

LOVE: And so Trump said gun owners haven't been turning out for elections and urged them to get the vote out. And before he spoke, Vice President Kamala Harris tweeted that, quote, "Trump will sell out to the gun lobby at the expense of our kids and communities."

KEITH: Well, the contrast on guns is certainly well-defined this election year. Now, this convention comes just a few months after the NRA's leader stepped down and was tried for corruption in civil court. Did that come up at the convention?

LOVE: Yeah, so the NRA's longtime CEO Wayne LaPierre did step down early this year. And the NRA statement at the time said it was for health reasons. But a jury in Manhattan found LaPierre and two other NRA executives liable in a civil trial for mismanaging the nonprofit's funds. LaPierre and the NRA denied the corruption allegations. And none of that came up directly at the leadership forum, but the NRA's interim vice President Andrew Arulanandam seemed to allude to it.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ANDREW ARULANANDAM: No matter what you've heard, we are strong. We're healthy. We're resolute, committed and united as ever.

LOVE: But the gun rights group's influence has waned the past few years. Membership has declined, and financial problems have led to programs being cut. The NRA also tried and failed to declare bankruptcy in 2021.

KEITH: Texas is known for being pro-gun. Is there any support there for gun reforms?

LOVE: So there is evidence of bipartisan support for some gun reforms here in Texas. A University of Texas at Austin poll found that 73% of Texas voters support raising the legal age to purchase any firearm from 18 to 21. There was a bill that would have raised the age to buy semiautomatic rifles last legislative session. It was supported by several Uvalde families. And it ended up passing out of committee, which is a big deal for Texas, but it didn't make it any further. You know, speaking of the Uvalde shooting, that anniversary is coming up on Friday, but it's not the only Texas mass shooting with an anniversary this month. A gunman killed 10 people and injured 13 others at Santa Fe High School near Houston while Trump was still in office. The six-year anniversary of that shooting was yesterday.

KEITH: That's KERA's Caroline Love. Thanks for being here.

LOVE: Thanks for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Tamara Keith has been a White House correspondent for NPR since 2014 and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast, the top political news podcast in America. Keith has chronicled the Trump administration from day one, putting this unorthodox presidency in context for NPR listeners, from early morning tweets to executive orders and investigations. She covered the final two years of the Obama presidency, and during the 2016 presidential campaign she was assigned to cover Hillary Clinton. In 2018, Keith was elected to serve on the board of the White House Correspondents' Association.
Caroline Love
[Copyright 2024 KERA]
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