President Donald Trump has focused much of his speech at the 147th annual meeting of the National Rifle Association on energizing his supporters to ensure a win for Republicans in the midterm elections.
“We’re here today because we recognize a simple fact: the one thing that has always stood between the American people and the elimination of our Second Amendment rights has been conservatives in Congress willing to fight for those rights,” he said.
He especially focused on the Senate, where Republicans hold 51 of 100 seats.
“They say we have a majority. We have one. We have a majority of one person. That’s not really a majority,” Trump said.
“We got to get Republicans elected, we got to do great in ‘18.”
Two special elections included, there will be 35 Senate seats up for grabs come election day on Nov. 6. Of those, 23 are held by Democrats, two by independents – Bernie Sanders and Angus King – currently allied with Democrats, and eight by Republicans.
In addition, voters will decide on all 435 voting seats in the House of Representatives, where Republicans currently hold 235 seats versus 193 held by Democrats.
“Get out and vote. Don’t be complacent,” Trump said. “Like 90 percent of the time, you win the Presidency and, for whatever reason you lose the midterm. We can’t let that happen.”
He used the example of his own position as the underdog of the 2016 presidential election.
“You weren’t sure that Trump was going to win but you all went out there. You all went out there and voted. You voted.”
He also used the example of Neil Gorsuch, who was only confirmed as the Supreme Court Justice after Republicans changed the Senate rules to break the Democratic filibuster.
“We put an incredible new justice on the Supreme Court, Judge Neil Gorsuch. Yet virtually every single Democrat in the Senate opposed Neil Gorsuch just like they have consistently opposed judges who will protect your basic freedoms,” Trump said.
In the remainder of the speech, Trump talked mainly on issues of gun ownership rights and benefits of responsible gun ownership, giving a shout out to Stephen Willeford, the Sutherland Springs hero who shot Texas church shooter Devin Kelly, who killed 27 people.
Willeford used to be an NRA instructor and shot Kelly with his AR-15 rifle.
After the Parkland massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, Trump initially expressed tentative support for measures such as raising the age limit for buying rifles.
He has since endorsed more modest proposals, such as legislation aimed at providing more data for the background check system.
He emphasized his previous proposals to head off future mass shootings.
“We strongly believe in allowing highly trained teachers to carry concealed weapons,” he said. “And we want highly trained security guards.”
Trump’s administration is also pursuing a proposed regulatory ban on “bump stocks,” which enable a semi-automatic rifle to fire a steady stream of bullets. The devices were used in an October 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas that killed 59 people. NRA supports the ban, but not every member agrees.
“I’m not happy with the bump stock issue,” said Florida accountant Richard Brinkman, 62, who watched Trump’s speech.
Aside from that, however, he supported the President.
“Overall, I’m very happy with him,” he said. “Best president yet.”
Reuters contributed to this report.