NRA members support President Trump's stance on gun issues
Brittney Wright didn't like it earlier this year when President Donald Trump talked about potential new gun restrictions.
Even so, the 23-year-old Fort Worth woman — one of around 80,000 National Rifle Association members to show up at the group's annual meeting in Dallas — believes the president remains a strong supporter of the Second Amendment.
His presence Friday, she said, shows the world his continued commitment to the powerful gun lobby group.
"I know he's said some things, but I do think he supports our right to bear arms," Wright said. "I know he was talking after recent shootings about more gun control. But that would be banning a lot of the firearms we see here today.
"I think that's why he's here in Dallas for the NRA convention," she said. "He's showing support. He's here. That's the No. 1 thing — showing up. He's not just talking about it."
On Friday, Trump was the most anticipated speaker — for the fourth year in a row — at the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action forum that also featured Vice President Mike Pence, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz.
"People in this hall have never taken our freedom for granted ... and you have never stopped fighting for our beloved constitution," Trump told the crowd of thousands gathered at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center arena in Dallas. "Your Second Amendment rights are under siege.
"But they will never, ever be under siege as long as I'm your president."
After the speech, several NRA members said they believe in Trump.
"It's not about doing ... what you feel is right," said Katriel Parks, a 25-year-old Fort Worth man who joined the NRA for the first time Friday, shortly before hearing Trump speak. "It's about actually making a difference.
"He is the guy who will make that difference," said Parks, who wore a red Make America Great Again hat signed by Pence.
Raymond Smith, a 74-year-old Fredericksburg man, said he's proud — and relieved — that Trump and Pence are in office.
"I think our gun rights will be safe as long as they are there," he said.
Trump rattled some feathers earlier this year, after the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida, when he touched on issues ranging from raising the minimum age a person must be to buy an assault weapon to seeing expanded background checks and even giving law enforcers the ability to take guns from the mentally ill through an early intervention system.
He also raised the hackles on some when he told lawmakers: "You're afraid of the NRA. Some of you people are petrified of the NRA. They have great power over you people. They have less power over me."
On Friday, during a more than 45-minute speech, Trump touched on topics ranging from recent unemployment numbers to Texas Republicans he endorsed, including Gov. Greg Abbott, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, and his wife, Angela, in her bid for public office.
He said Kanye West helped raise his poll numbers among black men, encouraged Republicans to head to the polls this November to keep GOP leaders in office and said he was the victim of a “phony Russia witch hunt.”
And he said he's glad this year's convention was in the Lone Star State.
"It is fitting to be in the great state of Texas, a state that cherishes its rights like no other," Trump said.
Pence reminded the crowd that Trump last year told NRA members they had a friend in the White House.
"You have two friends in the White House," Pence told the cheering crowd on Friday. "President Donald Trump and I will always stand for the right to keep and bear arms."
That's good, said Norman Rollins, an 86-year-old Omaha man, who believes the country doesn't need more gun control.
For now, he said, people will have to wait to see what the president does.
"Obstructionists are keeping him busy," Rollins said.
Trump has called for a ban on bump stocks, the attachment used in last year’s Las Vegas massacre.
And that's something Stacy Grimlan — a 40-year-old Alvarado man who voted for Trump — doesn't like, since he owns a few.
"The Second Amendment means we can have everything," he said. "As strong supporters of the Second Amendment, we don't believe they should control anything. If it's part of the gun, we should have it."
But at the end of the day, Grimlan said he's still glad Trump is president.
"We voted for him to keep gun control from happening," he said. "It could be worse. We're just glad Hillary is not in there."