Trump Speaks At NRA Convention, Small Protest Gathers Outside

Apr 26, 2019

President Donald Trump spoke at the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting in Indianapolis Friday. He touted what he calls his accomplishments protecting Second Amendment rights.

The president announced he was removing the United States from the United Nations' Arms Trade Treaty – which regulates the international arms trade. The treaty has been in effect since late 2014. The U.S. signed on in 2013, but has not ratified the treaty. 

The president characterized the treaty as an attack on American sovereignty.

“We will never allow foreign bureaucrats to trample on your Second Amendment freedom,” Trump says.

Trump highlighted the work of Project Safe Neighborhoods and efforts with states to boost school safety through mental health resources and arming teachers. 

“To carry guns in the classroom, to protect themselves and to protect their students who they love,” Trump says. “Who’s better? Who’s better?”

The president highlighted a specific grant in his speech, STOP School Violence Program as a way to train and arm teachers. However, the grant specifies "no grants may be used to purchase firearms or provide training in the use of a firearm to any person."

Indiana gives schools the authority to arm teachers. A bill was considered during the legislative session that would provide state funding for firearm training for teachers.

Trump was joined by Vice President Mike Pence, both of Indiana’s senators and Gov. Eric Holcomb. Holcomb announced Camp Atterbury in Edinburgh will be the site of the group’s new National Marksmanship Competition Center.

Outside of Lucas Oil Stadium, about 24 people marched downtown to protest the NRA and the Trump administration.

Noah Leininger, from the group Answer Indiana, says he sees the NRA as a manifestation of white supremacy, citing its lack of support for shooting victims like Philando Castile.

Leininger also says he does not advocate for gun control or gun bans, since past gun control efforts have targeted minorities. But he says the gun industry needs to change.

“The gun control that we see would be an end to the mass production of guns, an end to the advertising and marketing of guns,” Leininger says. “In the same way that the cigarette industry has had a ban placed on advertising, we think that the same thing should happen to firearms.”

Kathleen Robertson helped organize the protest. She says the NRA holds too much political power over the U.S. Senate, which prevents federal gun reform laws from being passed.

“I've told NRA people, I don't have any problem with your guns,” Robertson says. “But use them with some common sense. Do with them what they were intended to do, and keep them safe.”

In a statement, the NRA said their annual meeting would return to Indianapolis in 2023.