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Gun Owners' Efforts with Trump Must Not End with White House Win

Gun Owners' Efforts with Trump Must Not End with White House Win
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With the return of 34 guilty verdicts by a Manhattan courtroom jury on felony charges for falsifying business records against Donald Trump, the National Rifle Association is in the unprecedented position of supporting a “prohibited person” for president. So much for “Enforce existing gun laws.”

The convictions have prompted revocation of Trump’s New York City concealed carry permit. 

“Two of the three pistols he was licensed to carry were turned over to the NYPD on March 31, 2023, and a third gun listed on Trump’s license ‘was lawfully moved to Florida,’” Fox News reported. In light of felony convictions, he can’t keep that one, or any others he may own, either. There’s an absurd counterpoint to that when you realize that if the convictions stand and he somehow manages to still win the White House, he’ll have access to the “nuclear football.”

At this writing we are still awaiting word on if Judge Juan Merchan, a Democrat apparatchik if ever there was one, will sentence Trump to jail. And if the charges somehow end up being overturned by the Supreme Court, the former president still faces politically motivated charges in Georgia for election racketeering, along with Espionage Act violations in Florida, and election interference in Washington D.C.

Whether those cases will unfold before or after the election is unclear, but how juries could possibly be formed where members have not formed opinions from the barrage of circus acts highlighted daily by a jubilant media is left unsaid. Team Biden actively campaigned outside the New York trial, with headliner Robert DeNiro (another reputed New York City concealed carry permit holder) putting his TDS (Trump Derangement Syndrome) on full display by calling Trump supporters “gangsters.”

This is what Republicans had better understand. It’s not just Trump who is hated. Every accusation, everything the left would like to do to him, they also extend to his supporters. Love the man or not, or just support him because you can’t stand Joe Biden, when they call him a criminal, a racist, a Nazi, that goes double for you, especially if you own a gun. They hate him, and if you’re even nominally on his side, they hate you.

Stipulation

I’m going to bring up some things Trump has said or done that are decidedly anti-gun. I’m even going to point out some disconnects with a big reason gun owners will be voting for him, his judicial appointments. Doing so generally results in angry queries to know if I would rather vote for Biden, and even in furious letters to the editor demanding I be fired and canceling subscriptions.

That’s not why I do it. I bring these things up because informed gun owners need to… uh … be informed. We need to understand that his ego and his stump speech words notwithstanding, Donald Trump is a flawed Second Amendment candidate prone at times to saying and doing some stupid and destructive things. If we do somehow manage to help him gain a second term in the White House, we’re going to need to be able to influence what he says and does on guns. And we won’t be prepared to do that if we gloss over the seriousness of his failures.

But for the record: I plan to vote for Donald Trump and support his campaign. I urge readers to do the same. If we want to have a shot at influencing him, first we’ve got to help him.

A Biden “victory,” with an unrestrained federal Leviathan and with what Democrats will do to the Supreme Court, would be an existential threat to the Republic and to any who oppose what they’re trying to impose in its place.

‘Our Beautiful Second Amendment’

Ever the showman who knows how to work a crowd, Trump excites them to a fever pitch at his rallies. The loudest cheerers are, in many cases, the type of MAGA supporter who will see, hear, and speak no evil, and Firearms News explored how there’s no sin they won’t forgive, presuming they’re even aware of them, at NRA’s Presidential Forum at the Great American Outdoor Show. We’ve been consistent in pointing out where he falls short of his promises not because we want to sabotage his campaign and help the Democrats, but for the reasons stated and to make sure our rights don‘t fall to “friendly fire” (go to the Firearms News website at and enter “Trump” in the search bar to see the extent we’ve tried to get his and his administration’s attention to pull them back from the brink).

He pulled the same act at the recent NRA Annual Meeting, where he received the Association’s formal endorsement. His speech is available on YouTube where you can see his full hour-and-a-half + address. I followed along with a transcript I copied and pasted into a Word file, and noted once again he was long on self-aggrandizing happy talk and short on showing he comprehends the essential serious intent behind “shall not be infringed,” only mentioning the Second Amendment nine times, and not once to explain why it’s important to freedom. He spent a similar amount of time talking about golf, also mentioning it nine times.

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Along with the obligatory praise for NRA’s up-to-its-neck-in-LaPierre-cronyism management (with Lautenberg Amendment supporter Bob Barr since named president), Trump instead took the nonetheless enthusiastic crowd on a rambling exposition with plenty of detours. As for staying on topic, some of the highlights included:

  • Not enough gun owners vote. If you look at a recent Texas primary runoff, where incumbent Biden “bipartisan” bill backer Tony Gonzales edged out red meat 2A warrior Brandon Herrera by a mere 407 votes and most voters didn’t bother, he’s got a point.
  • “RFK Jr is radical left … RFK Jr calls you a terrorist group…” It’s a valid observation. Too many so-called “conservatives” like the man’s anti-Covid shot stance and ignore the rest.
  • He’s courting Libertarians. It’s got to be done, but the Party platform calls for open borders, their presidential candidate defends Drag Queen Story Hours, and an attendee at Trump’s speech, where he called himself “a libertarian,” shouted that “Donald Trump should have taken a bullet!”
  • “[T]he Second Amendment will be … under siege but with me they never get anywhere… every promise I made every single promise I made to you as a candidate I kept as your president” he claimed. This is where gun owners need to be reminded that he’s telling them what they want to hear, and they can’t forget Trump’s bump stock ban (given a nominal green light by NRA endorsing extra regulation), which in turn helped solidify ATF rules precedents now applied to pistol braces, frames, receivers, private sales, etc. Ditto for “take the guns first, due process second” red flag enthusiasm, considering gun bans for citizens under 21, and more. This is where he needs to be reminded that we know.
  • “I appointed nearly 300 pro- Constitution judges to interpret the law as written. It's a record, by the way, and I faced down vile attacks from the radical left to confirm three great Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Cony Barrett,” he reminded the audience. It’s true, if Joe Biden and the Democrats win, the high court will be reshaped, and you can bet Bruen will be on the agenda for reversal. That said, Senate “advise and consent” protocol allows nominees to play coy and not commit to bedrock principles, and Kavanaugh volunteered in his Bruen concurrence that “Properly interpreted, the Second Amendment allows a ‘variety’ of gun regulations [including] shall-issue regimes may require a license applicant to undergo fingerprinting, a background check, a mental health records check, and training in firearms handling and in laws regarding the use of force, among other possible requirements.” And Barrett joined Chief Justice John Roberts and the court’s three “liberals” to allow Biden administration “ghost gun” regulations to go into effect.
  • “I revoked America's signature from the globalist United Nations Arms Trade Treaty … I stood up for our hunters, fishers, and sportsmen like never before … opening up millions of acres of federal land … the radical left Democrats tried to use Covid to shut down gun sales during the China virus I proudly designated gun and ammunition retailers as critical infrastructure so they couldn't touch it … my Administration also petitioned the Supreme Court to overturn New York City's unconstitutional ban on transporting handguns outside the home,” he claimed.
  • “In my second term, we will roll back every Biden attack on the Second Amendment,” he pledged. “[S]tarting the minute that Crooked Joe shuffles his way out of the White House at noon on Inauguration Day, we will sack the anti-gun fanatic Steve Dettelbach … and replace him with an ATF director who respects the sacred rights to keep and bear arms.” How that’s even possible remains unsaid (and unchallenged by anyone at NRA), and it’s important to remember that when Trump was in office, his nominee to head the Bureau was former Fraternal Order of Police President Charles Canterbury, and on his watch, FOP opposed concealed carry reciprocity, while he personally supported Sonia Sotomayor and Eric Holder.
  • “[W]e will give our police back their power and their respect. I am going to indemnify all police officers and law enforcement officials throughout the United States to protect them from being destroyed by the radical left,” Trump declared in a promise that should have produced shudders instead of polite applause. How he’s going to strengthen the already frighteningly abused practice of qualified immunity remains unclear, but he’s basically giving a green light not just to gangbusters, but to gun confiscation enforcers. Compare that to a few minutes later when he praised “the Texas spirit” and “Come and take it.”

Gun Owners for Trump 3.0

“Today we are also announcing the launch of Gun Owners for Trump, and this is to get out the vote,” he announced. “Sign up at gun owners. Get out there and do it we have to get the votes and remember what I told you is so true, the gun owners don't vote, it's so crazy, they should be, you I would think that they would vote more than any other group of people and it's just the opposite they don't vote, and they have to get out and vote. So, tell all your friends…”

That rang a bell – two, in fact. A similar effort was launched in 2020, and that itself was a reboot of sorts of 2016’s Second Amendment Coalition, jointly chaired by Donald Trump Jr. and then-NRA ILA head Chris Cox along with 62 co-chairs. After the election, we never heard from them again.

Recalling that prompted me to send some questions to some of the luminaries on the new list of 50 prominent names in the gun community, especially since I didn’t recognize many of or see anyone from Gun Owners of America on the list. Here’s what I asked:

“I 'm doing an article for Firearms News. I'd appreciate your response to this. I leave it to you if you want to be named or remain unnamed. I'll state up front in my piece that I understand it's either Trump or Biden, that I will be voting for Trump, and tell readers why. But I am concerned that if gun owners besides NRA don't have his ear, he’ll be more apt to cave to political pressure like he has before. Can you give me brief answers on these?

  • When and how did you receive your invitation to join Gun Owners for Trump?
  • Who sent it (name/title)?
  • What did it say? (screenshot? cut & paste?)
  • Is there actually an organization with structure, or are they just compiling a list of prominent/influential names with large gun owner followings?
  • If there is no formal organization, does that mean all media released from GOFT will be from the Trump campaign, with no consensus of members?
  • What indications did they give that GOFT will have Trump’s ear and be able to advise, influence, and provide feedback on concerns that will reach his attention?

Second Amendment Foundation head Alan Gottlieb answered my questions:

“All my answers are on the record, and you can attribute them to me.

“I received my invitation by telephone about 7 to 10 days before the NRA annual meeting. I was told they wanted to release it to the public on the Saturday of the annual meeting. I immediately confirmed that I would join and gave permission to use my name. I was also asked to recommend other individuals that I thought they should invite. Which I did over several days. Several contacts since.

“I would be breaking confidence and privacy of the people I work with at the Trump Campaign if I disclosed who called me an invited me.  Remember, that I served on the Gun Owners for Trump Coalition in 2020.

“There is actually an organization with structure as well as a complied list of famous prominent people and influential names with large gun owner followings. It is part of the joint Trump Champaign and the Republican national Committee. In addition, any gun owner can go online and add their name to the list and get involved.

“GOFT will surely issue information to the media and coalition members are encouraged to reach out to the public spread the word as well which is what I have done.

“In addition, I am heavily involved in gun owner voter registration in 7 key battleground states and will be involved in turning out the gun owner vote as the election nears as well. In 2020 when I was a member of the Coalition, I did many media appearances and expect to do the same this time.

“As far as input, I think that will depend on each individual. It will probably vary greatly. I have a great working relationship with the former president and his team. In his first term I attended several White House West Wing meetings to discuss both gun policy as well as personnel at BATF, UN Arms Trade Treaty US delegation and outreach to the gun rights community. One meeting was even held in the White House Chief of Staff's office.

“I attended three White House Christmas parties with my wife, Julianne and attended the White House gathering when he accepted the Republican 2020 nomination. Also, with the President at the Trump National Doral Golf Club Mar-a-Lago and VIP seating at campaign rallies.

“I work very closely with key current and former staff members like Mercedes Schlapp as well as his main pollster Jim McLaughlin. I have his ear. But it will vary from coalition member to member.”

Additionally, I was a guest recently on Armed American Radio’s Daily Defense, and asked my friend, host Mark Walters, who is also one of the Gun Owners for Trump big names, if there was any chance he’d be able to interview him on air (the “monster” show “airs live Sunday nights on nearly 250 radio stations and 200 cable radio stations nationwide distributed by the Salem Radio Network.”

“Yes, there is a chance,” Walters replied. “I am very hopeful, not only to have him on the show, but I’m hopeful to see Gun Owners for Trump actually have the ear of the president this go-around that we didn’t have the last time.”

That’s critical if Trump and the voters manage to pull off a November win so that we don’t see some of the same missteps and flat-out wrong positions and statements we saw during his first term. We need to make sure there are some voices from the gun community reaching him besides just NRA, who have a line to him when they see he’s about to step in it again or appoint someone to the courts or to other high-profile positions of authority.

And first we’ve got to help him win.


About the Author

David Codrea is the winner of multiple journalist awards for investigating / defending the RKBA and a long-time gun owner rights advocate who defiantly challenges the folly of citizen disarmament. In addition to being a regular featured contributor for Firearms News and AmmoLand Shooting Sports News, he blogs at “The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance,” and posts onTwitter: @dcodrea and Facebook.


If you have any thoughts or comments on this article, we’d love to hear them. Email us at FirearmsNews@Outdoorsg.com.




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