In May 2016, the National Rifle Association gave Donald Trump an early, and critical, vote of confidence by endorsing his presidential bid while other conservative groups were still plotting to overthrow him. The NRA stood by Trump throughout the tumultuous campaign and spent $30 million to help get him elected. In turn, Trump vowed to the gun lobby’s members that he would never let them down. “Remember that,” he said.
In the three months since his inauguration, while the media focused on Trump’s Twitter feed like Moses’s tablets and covered staff rivalries like a series of palace coups, the president and Republican lawmakers have quietly gone about the work of living up to his promise to the NRA. For gun-rights groups, this is the moment they’ve been waiting for. For gun-safety advocates, it’s a dangerous new normal in Washington and state legislatures across the country.
“The NRA was the largest investor in Donald Trump’s campaign and they are looking for a return on that investment,” said Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action, a gun-safety group she founded after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. “We’re starting to see that at the federal level, certainly.”
Other gun-safety groups said they’d also seen a significant shift in gun-related legislation since Trump was elected.