Donald Trump offered the National Rifle Association a treat, if not really a surprise, in his speech at their annual meeting. After thanking the NRA for their efforts to “stand up for our God-given rights — without exception, without fail, and without apology,” he turned his attention to one of their top concerns. The president announced a withdrawal from a UN arms trade treaty signed by the Obama administration. Trump called the announcement a surprise, but it was telegraphed enough by the White House to get noticed by Reuters and the Washington Post:
President Donald Trump on Friday was expected to announce his intention to revoke the United States’ status as a signatory of the Arms Trade Treaty, which was signed in 2013 by then-President Barack Obama but never ratified by Congress, two U.S. officials said.
Trump was expected to announce the decision in a speech in Indianapolis, to the National Rifle Association, the officials said. The NRA, a powerful gun lobby group, has long been opposed to the treaty, which was negotiated at the United Nations.
The Post called it part of Trump’s distrust of international treaties, but the language of this particular treaty has long concerned gun owners in the US. That’s why it languished in the Senate even while Democrats (briefly) controlled the upper chamber after the Obama administration became a signatory to it:
The NRA and other opponents of the treaty argue that it is ineffective and, more importantly, poses a threat to Americans’ Second Amendment rights by potentially subjecting domestic gun ownership to internationally drafted rules.
Its supporters dismiss those claims and say the treaty was drafted to have no effect on gun laws in the United States. …
Because the U.S. hasn’t ratified the decision, the Trump administration is considering a menu of options including “un-signing” the treaty or simply choosing not to participate in it, said people familiar with the deliberations.
The move would add to earlier decisions underscoring Trump’s suspicion of international groupings and agreements that he says could infringe on U.S. sovereignty.
Worth noting: the Senate passed a resolution opposing the treaty 53-46 before John Kerry added the US as a signatory — when Democrats controlled the Senate. It never had a prayer of getting the two-thirds necessary for ratification. Trump’s withdrawal from the treaty merely formalizes the status quo and takes ratification off the table … and places it into the round file, which is where it was always headed.
For the most part, Trump spent his time on stage honing his campaign-rally chops. He took shots at Democrats for not backing the NRA, and emphasized the connection between rights and God in one of the better lines in his speech. This one’s a keeper in a cycle that will focus on “Democratic socialism”:
"We believe children should be taught to love our country, honor our history and always respect our great American flag," Trump said at #NRAAM. "And above all else… in America we don't worship government, we worship God" pic.twitter.com/D3KAAZJNmA
— POLITICO (@politico) April 26, 2019
It wasn’t all 2020, at least not explicitly. Trump acted as emcee for a good portion of his allotted time, introducing a number of NRA members who have used firearms in self-defense. One had an even better line in describing a Texas terrorist who shot up a church and killed 26 parishioners: “We’re from Texas. We’re not known for our sanity.” Trump finished up his speech by noting that the origins of American independence are rooted in gun rights, using the example of Joseph Whicher in Salem in defying British troops sent to confiscate firearms. It was an effective end to a very well-received speech.
Watch the speeches from Trump and Mike Pence below, via Fox News and YouTube: