President Donald Trump on Friday addressed the National Rifle Association's annual meeting, signaling his strong support for the gun rights group after suggesting months earlier that he was open to some firearm restrictions in the aftermath of a school shooting in south Florida. He drew a standing ovation as he held the paper in his hand and said, "We have the best unemployment numbers we've ever had and all we hear is this phony Russian Federation witch hunt". This was not the first time Trump spoke at the event - he's given speeches since 2015 - but his address past year marked the first time a sitting President addressed the convention since Ronald Reagan, an indication of his strong relationship with the organization.
Student survivors of the February 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 people dead are now leading a massive national gun control movement.
Trump also blasted "gun-free zones", saying that there is nothing "more inviting to a mass killer than a sign that declares this school is a gun-free zone, come in and take us".
President Donald Trump is making a specific link between the sanctity of the Second Amendment and Republicans' prospects in the 2018 mid-term elections.
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Trump had flirted with tougher gun laws in the wake of the Parkland attack, but under pressure from donors and facing a Democratic landslide in Congressional elections this November, he quickly backtracked.
Taking a break from the escalating pressures of the Russian Federation probe and the Stormy Daniels case, Trump returned to the NRA's annual convention, his fourth consecutive appearance. He talked about raising the age for legal purchases of assault-style AR-15s from 18 to 21, banning bump stocks boosting the firepower of AR-15s, and tightening up background checks on gun buyers.
The Second Amendment of the US Constitution states that the "right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed". Their Facebook event says their goal is to unite as a community, and show the NRA and elected officials that they demand common sense reform and through unity, show that they will not back down and will not be bought or silenced.
"They have great power over you people", he told the lawmakers.
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"Of course [Parkland] increased the probability in some states of legislators passing more meaningless legislation", Tom King, an NRA board member from NY, tells NPR.
"POTUS & VPOTUS support the Second Amendment, support strong due process and don't want gun control".
Even President Trump, a close NRA ally, publicly challenged the organization - at least for a rare moment. The device was linked to last year's mass shooting in Las Vegas, the deadliest in modern American history.
Tonya Duerr, who traveled to the convention with her family from Knoxville, Tennessee, was "concerned, but hopeful" about Trump's rhetoric following the shooting. Trump, at one point, seemed to flirt with distancing himself from the group's policies, telling members of Congress in February they should feel free to defy the NRA in passing a comprehensive school safety package.
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But Trump later expressed support for only modest changes to the background check system and proposed arming teachers.