Trump to rouse firearm owners at gun lobby gathering

Trump to rouse firearm owners at gun lobby gathering

WASHINGTON (AFP): Donald Trump is set to address thousands of gun owners on Saturday, seeking to boost their enthusiasm for his White House bid even further, a day after launching an obscenity-laden tirade against Democratic rival Joe Biden.

Taking a weekend break from his New York criminal trial, Trump was due to address the politically powerful National Rifle Association (NRA) in Dallas, Texas, later Saturday.

The 150-year-old organization, whose longtime CEO resigned in January amid a graft lawsuit, is closely aligned with the Republican Party in opposing firearm restrictions, despite routine mass killings in the United States and relatively high rates of gun violence compared to peer nations.

Efforts at broad reforms to gun laws have been stymied for decades, with executive actions and state initiatives attacked in court by critics as infringing on the constitutional right to own a firearm, enshrined in the Second Amendment.

Trump previewed the likely fear-mongering tone of his speech on Friday, telling a fundraising dinner in Minnesota that gun owners must vote Republican because “the Democrats want to take their guns away — and they will take their guns away.”

“That’s why I’m going to be talking to the NRA tomorrow to say: ‘You gotta get out and vote.’”

Biden has repeatedly called for a long-lapsed ban on assault weapons to be reinstated, among other restrictions.

Last month, the White House moved to crackdown on firearm sales at gun shows and online that evade US federal background checks, with several Republican-led states quickly suing to block the measure.

Vice President Kamala Harris issued a statement through her and Biden’s campaign ahead of Trump’s speech Saturday, saying “the choice in this election is clear.”

“President Biden and I will continue to take on the gun lobby to keep Americans safe, while Donald Trump will continue to sacrifice our kids’ and communities’ safety to keep these special interests happy.”

There were more than 40,000 gun-related deaths in the United States last year, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

 More ‘cheating’ claims

 At the Minnesota fundraiser, Trump falsely claimed that Biden cheated to win the state in 2020 — doubling down further on a message casting doubt on the legitimacy of US democracy — with several instances of profanity.

Biden won consistently Democratic Minnesota by over 200,000 votes.

In addition to his trial in New York, Trump faces pending criminal charges in Washington, Georgia and Florida — indictments the former president lambasted as “bullshit,” while reiterating his claim they were politically motivated.

The prosecutions are a form of “cheating on the election, no different to what they did four years ago,” Trump claimed.

Biden meanwhile flew Saturday to the swing state of Georgia, which he narrowly won in 2020, to campaign for support from African Americans — a crucial element in his coalition.

On Sunday he was due to address students at Morehouse University, a renowned historically Black institution.