What gun groups want from Trump

Getty Images

The National Rifle Association (NRA) is sending President-elect Donald Trump a Christmas wish list filled with pro-Second Amendment policies that would make it easier for gun owners to carry concealed weapons.

Just one month ago, the NRA was bracing for battle with a Clinton administration.

{mosads}Now, the gun lobby is looking to tighten its grip in Washington with Trump taking the reins in the White House and Republicans maintaining control of Congress.

The NRA endorsed Trump and spent more than $30 million supporting him. 

Following the election, it made it clear that expects the results to pay dividends on its interests.

“Gun owners made this election happen,” NRA chief Wayne LaPierre said following the election in a video address.

He called on supporters to “go on offense.”

The NRA’s top priority is nominating a Supreme Court justice who supports Second Amendment principles to replace the late conservative justice Antonin Scalia, something Trump has promised to do.

While the NRA wants to expand concealed carry laws, other gun rights advocates are calling for a repeal of gun-free school zones.

The NRA did not respond to requests for comment for this story.

On the campaign trail, Trump voiced support for gun rights legislation.

“We are the only country in the world that has a Second Amendment,” Trump wrote in his gun policy platform. “Protecting that freedom is imperative.” 

Another top NRA legislative priority is a law called reciprocity that would allow law-abiding gun owners to carry their guns out-of-state.

If a Texas gun owner has a concealed carry permit, for example, they should be allowed to travel to New York City with their firearm, the gun lobby says. That would force

states with more restrictive gun control laws to accept people with concealed carry permits.

The gun lobby should be able to secure enough votes to pass a reciprocity bill, said Adam Winkler, a constitutional law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles and author of “Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America.”

“The NRA will put a lot of weight behind reciprocity,” Winkler said. “There’s a sense the votes are there. There are a enough Democrats that come from states where gun rights are very strong that may break with their party on this issue.”

A number of Democrats are up for reelection in 2018 from states won by Trump, including Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota, Jon Tester in Montana and Joe Manchin in West Virginia.

The Gun Owners of America (GOA) is also getting behind the push for reciprocity, as well as a plan to allow armed teachers to carry guns in schools.

Michael Hammond, legislative counsel at the Gun Owners of America, said gun-free school zones make students “sitting ducks,” because there is no one to defend them in the event of a mass shooting.

The Gun-Free School Zones Act introduced by then-Sen. Joe Biden (D-Pa.) prohibits firearms near schools. The Supreme Court struck down a provision of the law in 1995, but Congress issue a similar version a year later.

Trump could argue the federal gun ban in schools is unconstitutional, because it does not comply with the Supreme Court ruling, and refuse to prosecute schools that violate it, said Hammond.

The Gun Owners of American would also like Trump to weaken federal background check requirements for existing concealed carry permit holders.

“Trump could announce that he is using prosecutorial discretion in the same way that Obama used it for illegals,” Hammond wrote in a memo.

The group is also calling for legislation to “eliminate funding for anti-gun states,” such as states that have a gun ban or confiscation program, gun registry, or ammunition ban.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), a firearms trade association, is taking a more measured approach.

“You have to be realistic,” said Larry Keane, NSSF’s senior vice president and general counsel.

“Just because Trump won the election and Republicans control both chambers of Congress doesn’t mean you can walk in there with your Christmas list and get the pony,” he said.

In the Senate, it could be difficult for the gun lobby to pass legislation since the party holds just 52 seats. Procedural hurdles in the Senate require 60 votes.

At the same time, it is possible some legislation could be backed by red-state Democrats.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation is shying away from some of the more eye-popping proposals like repealing gun-free school zones in favor of lower-profile policies.

For instance, NSSF would like to make it easier for gunmakers to export firearms.

The State Department scrutinizes overseas gun sales, even though the Obama administration has loosened export regulations for most other industries, Keane said.

Keane blamed it on “gun control politics.”

Trump could make it easier  for gun manufacturers to do business overseas by placing the Commerce Department — rather than the State Department — in charge of firearms exports, he suggested.

The NSSF and GOA would also like to make it easier for hunters to obtain sound suppressors by removing these devices from the National Firearms Act and loosening the regulations. This could only be accomplished through legislation, such as the Hearing Protection Act introduced by Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.).

Gun sales soared under President Obama, as people stockpiled firearms and ammunition over fears that the government would tighten gun controls. Under Trump, that fear is being replaced by confidence from gun owners, which is threatening to take a bite out of industry profits.

Since Election Day, the gunmaker Smith & Wesson has seen its stock dip by 25 percent to just over $21. While Sturm, Ruger & Company, another top gun manufacturer, has seen its stock fall about $12 since then to around $52.

But the National Shooting Sports Foundation expects gun sales to eventually stabilize.

“It grew under Bush, it grew under Obama, and it will grow under Trump,” Keane said.

In fact, the gun industry enjoyed record sales on Black Friday, weeks after Trump was elected, Keane pointed out. FBI data shows more than 1.6 million prospective gun buyers requested background checks that day, which is more than any previous Black Friday.


Tags Donald Trump Heidi Heitkamp Joe Biden Joe Manchin Jon Tester Matt Salmon NRA

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video