NRA, Trump: Clinton would abolish 2nd Amendment, gun rights
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The National Rifle Association may be a nation unto itself in its commitment to the right to bear arms.
The number of members attending its annual convention here is larger than the combined populations of Jeffersonville and Clarksville, Ind.; more than 70,000.
But the message its leadership delivered by endorsing Donald Trump, and by hosting his second Louisville visit, is aimed at the more than 5 million members who stayed home.
"This election is about the soul of the country, and the Second Amendment," said Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action. "If your preferred candidate got out of the race, it's time to get over it."
Pre-produced vignettes, some commercial-length, featured luminaries ranging from country singer Charlie Daniels to retired Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North. Daniels referred to President Barack Obama as a "flower child" while North accused the President of abandoning Iraq.
All alluded, or directly declared, that former First Lady, U.S. Senator, Secretary of State and Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton would be far worse were she to win the White House.
"(Clinton) wants a world where only law enforcement has guns, free health care, free education," Cox said. "Well, Hillary, that place does exist, and you just might get to live there. It's called prison."
MORE FROM WAVE3.COM
+ Inside the NRA's Leadership Forum
+ Lone Trump protester battles rain, no opposition at NRA convention
+ Employees fired, training improved, jail population down, sheriff says '60 Days In' was great
"The only way to save our Second Amendment is to vote for a person you all know named Donald Trump," Trump told those Assembled in Freedom Hall. "There are 13 million permit holders in the U. S. I happen to be one of them. Nobody knows that."
Trump made no mention of assault rifles, though he once supported the federal ban on certain weapons classified as such. But he indicated that some mass killings, including the incident in San Bernardino that took 14 lives, could have prevented by "a good guy with a gun. Boom!"
Trump intimated what NRA leaders have stated outright: that Clinton would undermine gun rights by filling vacancies on the Supreme Court with Justices who would shut down firearms manufacturers.
"We could have three, four, five vacancies coming in the next four to eight years," he said. "I challenge her to name (whom she is considering)."
Trump referenced teleprompters and prepared speeches to acknowledge that many of his gun-specific remarks came from prepared texts.
He drew more sustained applause going back off the cuff; repeating his pledges to save Social Security and Medicare, repeal Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act health-insurance reform mandates), build a Mexican border wall to block illegal immigration, heavily tax American manufacturers who move jobs overseas, "rebuild" America's military and destroy ISIS as a terror threat.
"I'm doing better in the polls with women," he said. "My poll numbers with men are through the roof, but I like women more than men! C'mon, women! Let's go."
Many of the NRA's blasts of Clinton are targeted to women voters. One vignette, featured a young woman who seeks a candidate "who can place their hand on a Bible and swear to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution, without telling a lie.
"There are many powerful accomplished women in both parties who meet and exceed that standard," she continued, "but you Mrs. Clinton, aren't one of them."
"Women and children would be most vulnerable and defenseless in Clinton's anti-gun culture," Trump said, "Like what she said about the (coal) miners."
Trump was referencing, indirectly, commercials that Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has aired as part of his re-election bid. Clinton claims a snippet, in which she says "we're going to put coal miners out of business" was taken out of context, and actually referenced a plan to retrain miners, or develop other employment options, as renewable energy sources to replace fossil fuels.
Arguably, the comments may have contributed to her neck-and-neck finish in Kentucky's primary Tuesday, in which she edged challenger Bernie Sanders by little more than 1,000 votes.
Eight years ago, she captured 65 percent of the primary vote against then-challenger Barack Obama,
"You'd be surprised how much I know about Kentucky," Trump said.
The NRA sees a friend in senior U.S. Senator, now Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell. Its Victory Fund Political Action Committee contributed $9,900 to his re-election campaigns in 2014 and 2008, and $6,500 in 2002, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.
The Victory Fund PAC has given $2,000 to Kentucky Republican incumbents Andy Barr (6th District) and Hal Rogers (5th District), and $1,000 to Brett Guthrie (2nd District) in their bids for re-election to the House of Representatives.
As of April 21, the fund reported it had raised $13,192,504 for the election cycle, and spent $2,300,986.
McConnell, Paul, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin all were acknowledged Friday. Bevin joined those urging members to translate their enthusiasm into activism.
"Some of you may be asked to make a sacrifice," Bevin told attendees. "It's the fact that it's not enough to just go to the polls this November."
Copyright 2016 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.