The White House says President Donald Trump will travel to Las Vegas on Wednesday to console the victims of the worst mass shooting in American history. It will be the first test as president of his views on gun violence, but few expect him to break with the NRA’s view that “the best way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” Or in this case, a bad guy with a machine gun.
Audio from Sunday night’s shooting during the Route 91 Harvest county music festival clearly reveals the gunman used fully automatic weapons to kill at least 59 people and wound 527 others, spraying them with hundreds of rounds of bullets from his perch on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort hotel.
Nearly half a million Americans legally own machine guns – weapons that can fire anywhere from 300-1,800 rounds per minute with one squeeze of the trigger. Attempts to outlaw them have been repeatedly fought by the NRA, one of Trump’s earliest and staunchest supporters in his bid for the presidency.
No doubt there will be calls again for such weapons to be banned, and again, the NRA will insist that private ownership of fully automated weapons is protected by the Second Amendment. And until now, Trump has made no secret about whose side he’s on, even though his White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders insisted today during the daily briefing that now is not the time to talk about gun control.
“You have a true friend and champion in the White House,” Trump told cheering NRA members at their annual Leadership Forum three months after taking the oath of office. “You came through for me, and I am going to come through for you.”
According to NRA president Wayne LaPierre, Trump owes his election victory to the NRA’s support. “I’m gonna tell you something,” LaPierre said at the gun lobby’s recent annual convention, “and the leftists may deny it, the media, yeah, they’ll probably ignore it, but President Trump, he knows it: NRA members helped put him over the top and it’s all because of you and folks just like you in all states throughout our country. The NRA, yeah, it’s true, the NRA helped put President Trump into the White House, and aren’t we darn glad we did it?”
In 1986, when Congress was debating the McClure-Volkmer Act, an amendment to the bill, which later became known as the Firearm Owners Protection Act, outlawed the ownership of any machine guns manufactured after 1986, while allowing citizens to own machine guns manufactured before the passage of the legislation. The NRA lost that fight, but it made its position on machine gun ownership perfectly clear. It wants law-abiding citizens to be able to buy and own machine guns no matter when they were made.
“Repealing the machine gun ban amendment tacked on to the McClure-Volkmer bill will be a high priority,” said LaPierre, who was then the head of the NRA’s lobbying arm, the Institute for Legislative Action.
The NRA then released a position paper that stated: “The National Rifle Association supports the right of law-abiding individuals to choose to own any firearm, including automatic firearms.” Claiming that “the Second Amendment is not limited by its language to the type of firearms which the people have a right to own,” the NRA said that it “will actively work for the repeal of the prohibition against law-abiding citizens obtaining newly made automatic firearms.”
Here’s video of an NRA machine gun shoot:
The NRA went on to say that protecting the rights of machine gun owners was its “highest priority.” And its efforts have been hugely successful: In 2012, there were 488,065 privately owned fully automatic machine guns in the U.S., according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics.
As a candidate, Trump used the Orlando nightclub shooting, which killed 49 people and wounded 58 others – and until last night the worst mass shooting in U.S. history – to call for a temporary ban Muslims from entering the country.
Speaking earlier today, Trump called the massacre in Las Vegas an “act of pure evil.” He didn’t say anything about the weapons used by the gunman.