NRA: Now is Trump pay-back time

2017-04-28 18:17
A caricature of President Donald Trump on the back of a convention-goer’s T-shirt. (David Goldman, AP)

A caricature of President Donald Trump on the back of a convention-goer’s T-shirt. (David Goldman, AP)

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Washington - Donald Trump, a favourite of the National Rifle Association, has custody of the Oval Office. The Republican-controlled Congress already has ditched one Obama-era rule to tighten access to guns.

And an emboldened NRA has much more ambitious plans afoot for easing state and national gun laws as its annual convention unfolds this weekend in Atlanta.

But gun control advocates do not want your pity, thank you very much.

The groups that stand in opposition to looser gun laws say they are ready to rumble, as the NRA enjoys a post-election payoff moment on Friday when Trump becomes the first president to appear at its convention since Ronald Reagan in 1983.

"We have become the David to the NRA's Goliath," says Shannon Watts, who founded Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America following the 2012 shooting deaths of 20 children and six adults in Newtown, Connecticut. The group is now part of Everytown for Gun Safety, which is backed by billionaire Michael Bloomberg and is the largest organisation fighting gun violence in the US.

"We feel much more invigorated because we know how important this is, given that Donald Trump is president" and the NRA spent more than $30 million to help him get there, says Watts.

Count on similar sentiments from other groups seeking tighter gun rules as the convention kicks off on Friday.

With Trump's election, there's no shortage of material to motivate gun control advocates.

After the Republican won the White House, NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre declared it time to "defeat the forces that have aligned against our freedom once and for all".

The NRA is pushing for federal legislation to make any state's concealed-carry permits valid everywhere else, which opponents say would effectively turn the weakest gun standards in the nation into the law of the land. And the NRA is out to eliminate gun-free zones at schools and reduce state requirements for background checks, among other things.

Groups advocating tougher gun laws acknowledge there's little prospect for them to make gains at the national level. But they point to increasing success in recent years in the states, where they have enacted a number of measures to require universal background checks and tighten access to guns for domestic abusers.

Everytown President John Feinblatt says a top priority for gun control groups right now is defeating NRA-backed efforts to enact a national "concealed-carry reciprocity" law that would require all states to recognise other states' concealed carry permits. 

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