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Trump, 2024 hopefuls promise expanded gun rights at NRA Convention

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Former President Donald Trump on Friday vowed to stop any federal actions against law-abiding gun owners and sellers if elected to another term.

The 45th president headlined more than a dozen speakers at the National Rifle Association’s annual convention at the Indiana Convention Center, including several declared and potential 2024 Republican presidential hopefuls. All of them signaled an expansive view of the right to bear arms.

Earlier in the afternoon, Trump’s former vice president, and the immediate past governor of Indiana, Mike Pence, earned a scattering of jeers when he entered the convention hall, to which he quipped, “I love you, too.” Pence was the first of several speakers to acknowledge the mass shootings over the past few weeks in Nashville and Louisville and held them up as examples of the need for more armed guards in schools. He called for an accelerated federal death penalty for mass shooters, and a return to institution-based mental health care.

“I say to Joe Biden and the gun control extremists, give up your pipe dreams of gun confiscation in this free society,” he said. “Stop endangering our lives with gun bans and stop trampling America’s freedoms.”

Trump spoke by far the longest of anyone on the program and earned the loudest cheers. He hit a number of familiar themes in his speech ranging from border security to his oft-repeated false claims about the 2020 election being stolen. Trump vowed to repeal the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990 and provide teachers with a tax credit to offset the costs of undergoing firearm training in order to carry a concealed firearm in schools. He called the recent mass shootings manifestations of a social and cultural problem rather than a gun problem.

“I promise you this, with me at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, no one will lay a finger on your firearms,” he said. “I will uphold those glorious words, ‘shall not be infringed.’”

Friday’s speakers also included presidential candidates Asa Hutchinson, the former governor of Arkansas, and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, as well as three sitting Republican governors–Indiana’s Eric Holcomb as well as Kristi Noem and Chris Sununu, of South Dakota and New Hampshire, respectively.

Ahead of Friday’s event, the Indiana Democratic Party said in a statement lawmakers should instead support measures such as safe storage laws and universal background checks to reduce gun violence. State Democratic Party Chair Mike Schmuhl said, “By embracing the NRA this week, Indiana Republicans are making it clear that they accept the incomprehensible and the majority-opposed status quo.”