US Elections 2016

Trump vows to end gun-free zones as he takes aim at Clinton

Gun enthusiasts look over E O Tech optics at the National Rifle Association Annual Meetings & Exhibits at the Kentucky Exposition Center on May 21, 2016 in Kentucky, US.
Gun enthusiasts look over E O Tech optics at the National Rifle Association Annual Meetings & Exhibits at the Kentucky Exposition Center on May 21, 2016 in Kentucky, US.PHOTO: AFP

He claims his Democratic rival wants to free violent criminals and abolish right to bear arms

LOUISVILLE (Kentucky) • Presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has called for an end to gun-free zones in the United States.

He also accused Democratic front runner Hillary Clinton of seeking to let violent criminals out of prison and putting law-abiding citizens at risk as he accepted the endorsement of the National Rifle Association (NRA) at its annual convention in Kentucky on Friday.

Mr Trump said the November election would be a referendum on the Second Amendment and asserted that Mrs Clinton, his likely Democratic opponent, wanted to abolish the right to bear arms.

"Crooked Hillary Clinton is the most anti-gun, anti-Second Amendment candidate ever to run for office," he said. "She wants to abolish the Second Amendment. She wants to take away your guns."

Although Mrs Clinton has called for tightening restrictions on guns, she has not called for overturning the Second Amendment.

Mr Trump reserved his most scathing criticism for his likely Democratic rival. He warned that if Mrs Clinton were elected the country would be a dangerous place with "violent criminals" roaming the streets and putting "innocent Americans at risk".

In a speech that was filled with red meat for conservatives, Mr Trump denounced the Obama administration and riffed on some of his favourite themes, including his promise to build a wall along the border with Mexico and to tighten immigration laws.

He also again urged Senator Bernie Sanders, Mrs Clinton's rival for the Democratic nomination, to embark on an independent bid.

But Mr Trump reserved his most scathing criticism for his likely Democratic rival. He warned that if Mrs Clinton were elected the country would be a dangerous place with "violent criminals" roaming the streets and putting "innocent Americans at risk".

He also unveiled a new moniker for Mrs Clinton - "heartless Hillary" - and said her policies on guns and criminal justice would make women, in particular, less safe. He added that her agenda was "to release violent criminals from jail".

Mr Trump in January said he wanted to end gun-free zones in schools. But he went further on Friday, suggesting that they should be done away with entirely. "We are getting rid of gun-free zones," he said. His audience cheered when he argued that more guns would mean less gun violence.

Mr Trump has changed his views on gun rights over the years.

In his 2000 book, The America We Deserve, he said he "generally" opposed gun control, but wrote: "I support the ban on assault weapons and I support a slightly longer waiting period to purchase a gun."

He has also previously been critical of the NRA's outsized influence on the Republican Party.

Since announcing his presidential bid, Mr Trump - who himself has a concealed-carry permit and whose two oldest sons are avid hunters - has fashioned himself a fierce advocate of gun rights. He has released a policy paper on the Second Amendment and called for making concealed-carry permits valid in all 50 states.

NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 22, 2016, with the headline 'Trump vows to end gun-free zones as he takes aim at Clinton'. Print Edition | Subscribe