The 147th annual meetings and exhibits of the National Rifle Association opened with a roar Friday with the appearances of both President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, but some in the media seemed willing to reinforce the notion of bias.
There was a large contingent of press in the room Friday when Trump and Pence delivered remarks to a roaring crowd of gun rights activists. It was clear that the president and vice president were on friendly ground, but the mainstream media…not so much.
The audience responded with applause when Pence asserted that the national media does not tell “the whole story” about gun rights and gun owners. He called on the press to change that.
“President Donald Trump and I will always stand for the right to keep and bear arms,” Pence promised.
He called the NRA an organization “forged in freedom.” Pence added a moment later, “President Trump and I are here to say ‘thank you.’”
When Trump took the stage, the audience was ready. They were not disappointed.
The president took swipes at Congressional Democrats for “slow walking” nominations to the federal courts.
“We need federal judges who will interpret the Constitution as written,” Trump observed.
This was after he told the crowd that it has been conservatives who have protected the Second Amendment on Capitol Hill.
“Democrats in Congress want to disarm law-abiding Americans at the same time they are letting violent criminals loose,” he said.
As is often the case with a Trump speech, he occasionally veered into different subjects including the economy, but while he was on message, NRA members were tuned in. At one point, the president observed that, “We will never give up our freedom. We will live free and we will die free.”
He also reiterated his support for arming qualified schoolteachers.
Several news reports reminded readers that the NRA “spent about $30 million” to support Trump’s candidacy in 2016. Gun rights activists have noted that the alternative would have been a Hillary Clinton presidency.
Had that been the outcome 15 months ago, it’s a safe bet no president would be appearing before an enthusiastic NRA audience in Dallas, or anywhere else.
The convention continues through the weekend. The annual NRA members’ meeting is Saturday morning, and there are workshops and seminars on the schedule, plus an exhibit hall filled with guns and gear, through which the president’s son, Donald, Jr., strolled Friday with several Secret Service agents.