Speaking before a packed crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Friday morning, President Donald Trump received one of the loudest cheering responses when, after ticking off a list of things his administration plans to accomplish, he told the crowd, “And by the way, we will protect our Second Amendment!”
It was the first time in recent memory that a sitting president had referred to the second tenet of the Bill of Rights as “our Second Amendment.” Historically, presidents and other politicians have simply alluded to “the Second Amendment.”
It was the kind of moment that had not happened during the previous eight years at the CPAC gathering. On the campaign trail, Trump had repeatedly promised to protect the right to keep and bear arms. Indeed, Trump has been challenged by Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation and chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms to “make the Second Amendment great again.”
In office for just over one month, Trump has nominated a conservative federal judge from Denver to fill the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court. Judge Neil Gorsuch will reportedly face confirmation hearings next month. He has been described as a Constitutional “originalist” in the vein of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who authored the landmark 2008 Heller ruling that affirmed the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms.
Trump made the pledge noting the presence of Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association and Chris Cox, executive director of NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action. Trump noted the strong support he got from the NRA during the campaign, and told the audience, “They love our country.”
The audience loved the comment. LaPierre is scheduled to speak later in the day.
Earlier in his speech, Trump alluded to the ongoing violence in Chicago, the adopted hometown of his predecessor, Barack Obama. There, according to the Chicago Tribune, the current murder count is ahead of last year’s pace at this time.
Until Wednesday, the body count had been lagging behind last year, but Chicago’s criminal element racked up seven murders Wednesday, the biggest single day of slayings since Christmas, the newspaper reported.
There is another development, the Tribune is also reporting. Gangs in some sections of the city are resorting to rifles, which have accounted for at least 13 fatal shootings over the past nine months, the newspaper said.
This revelation could give the gun prohibition lobby an opening to shift the focus away from Chicago’s gangs to long guns, which are traditionally involved in a fraction of homicides in the United States. Only about 2-3 percent of all criminal slayings in any given year are linked to rifles or shotguns.