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Friday 29 September 2023 Dublin: 12°C
Man throws phone at Trump during gun rally
In his speech, Trump told the NRA he is withdrawing the US from the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty.

A MAN WAS removed from the audience at US President Donald Trump’s speech to the National Rifle Association (NRA) after throwing a mobile phone towards the stage.

The phone flew toward one side of the lectern as Trump was approaching from the other side. The president proceeded with his speech without delay.

Associated Press / YouTube

In his speech, Trump said he is withdrawing the US from an international agreement on the arms trade, saying the United Nations treaty is “badly misguided”.

Trump made the announcement as he vowed to fight for gun rights and implored members of the nation’s largest pro-gun group to rally behind his re-election bid.

“It’s under assault,” he said of the constitutional right to bear arms. “But not while we’re here.”

Trump said he would be revoking the United States’ status as a signatory of the UN Arms Trade Treaty, which regulates international trade in conventional weapons, from small arms to battle tanks, combat aircraft and warships.

His predecessor President Barack Obama signed the pact in 2013 but it has never been ratified by US lawmakers. It has long been opposed by the NRA.

“Under my administration, we will never surrender American sovereignty to anyone,” Trump said, before signing a document on stage asking the Senate to halt the ratification process.

We will never allow foreign diplomats to trample on your Second Amendment freedom.

“I hope you’re happy,” he told the group, to cheers.

‘Embolden terrorists’ 

Gun activists denounced the treaty when it was under negotiation as an infringement of civilian firearm ownership, despite the well-enshrined legal principle that says no treaty can override the Constitution or US laws.

The treaty is aimed at cracking down on illicit trading in small arms, thereby curbing violence in some of the most troubled corners of the world.

Advocates of tighter gun restrictions denounced Trump’s decision. Kris Brown, president of the Brady Campaign, said it was a “reckless move” that will “only embolden terrorists and other dangerous actors around the world”.

‘I didn’t need a gun’ 

In a speech full of grievance, Trump railed against the Mueller investigation, which did not establish a criminal conspiracy between Russian and the Trump campaign but raised serious questions about the actions of Trump and his associates. 

Special counsel Robert Mueller outlined potential episodes of obstruction of justice by the president without concluding that he had committed any crime, leaving such questions for Congress to pursue as it saw fit.

“They tried for a coup,” Trump said. “It didn’t work out so well.”

“And I didn’t need a gun for that, did I?” he quipped, adding:

Spying. Surveillance. Trying for an overthrow? And we caught ‘em.

And in a pre-emptive attack against his 2020 Democratic challengers, Trump claimed that the other party wants “to take away your guns”.

Trump Michael Conroy / AP/Press Association Images US President Donald Trump speaks at the NRA Institute for Legislative Action Leadership Forum in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis today. Michael Conroy / AP/Press Association Images / AP/Press Association Images

An emboldened NRA had high hopes and ambitious plans for easing state and national gun regulations after pouring tens of millions of dollars into the 2016 presidential race, seeing its dark horse candidate win and Republicans in control of both branches of Congress.

But much of the legislation the group championed has stalled, due, in part, to a series of mass shootings, including the massacre at a Parkland, Florida, high school last year that left 17 dead and launched a youth movement against gun violence that has had a powerful impact. And Democrats won control of the House in the midterm elections.

At the same time, the group is grappling with infighting and money issues as well as facing a series of investigations into its operating practices, including allegations that covert Russian agents seeking to influence the 2016 election courted its officials and funneled money through the group.

As Trump landed in Indianapolis, a judge imposed an 18-month prison term on gun rights activist Maria Butina, an admitted Russian agent who tried to infiltrate American conservative groups.

Opinion polls 

The NRA’s shaky fortunes have raised questions about the organisation’s clout heading into 2020.

“I’ve never seen the NRA this vulnerable,” John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit that advocates for gun control measures, said. 

A March AP-NORC poll found that 67% of Americans overall think gun laws should be made stricter — up from 61% in October 2017.

A June 2018 Gallup poll found overall favorable opinions of the NRA down slightly from October 2015 – from 58% to 53%. Unfavourable views have grown – from 35% to 42%.

With reporting by Órla Ryan 

Associated Foreign Press
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