US President Donald Trump‘s speech to the National Rifle Association (NRA) on May 4 was quintessential Trump to his quintessential audience.
He told them “you’re great … you have never stopped fighting for our beloved Constitution.”
He said, “Second Amendment,” “sacred rights, given to us by God, including the right to self-defence,” “we will protect our second amendment,” “defend our borders,” “we don’t defend our borders,” “illegal immigrants … flooding our borders,” “violent immigrants,” “these countries send us their worst,” “MS-13 horrible gang members,” “criminal aliens,” “savage killers,” and “we are going to have strong borders.” Though he failed to mention that Mexico would pay for the wall. Which was very disappointing.
By saying, “Your Second Amendment rights are under siege. But they will never be under siege as long as I’m president!” he did one of those wonderfully Trumpian things, putting two mutually contradictory things together and having his base cheer for both.
He said, “We proudly stand for the national anthem,” as opposed to those who knelt, which prompted lots of applause from both the audience and Trump himself. “We love our country,” “we’re putting America first,” “rebuild our military,” “we believe in the rule of law,” we support the men and women of law enforcement,” except, of course, when they’re investigating him and his friends, then it’s a “phony witch-hunt.” He explained how he sent left-over military equipment to “the heroes who fight crime, our brave men and brave women in blue,” and said it as if nobody had ever thought of it or done it before, though they had. That brought loud cheers.
He threw in that it was an “all-time record crowd,” though it wasn’t. A mention of “fake news CNN,” was greeted by an enthusiastic blend of boos (at CNN) and cheers (for saying it).
There were some of his pet phrases, necessary for all occasions, “you’re gonna be so happy,” “nobody knows that,” “there has never been anything like this.”
The bits that created umbrage overseas were his comparisons with countries that have stricter gun laws than “USA, USA!” From his podium, he did a little mini-dramatisation of the terrorist attacks in Paris. “They took their time and gunned them down one by one,” using his hands to illustrate pistols in the classic manner of five-year-olds, thumbs up, forefingers pointed, the other three fingers curled, “Boom! Come over here. Boom! Come over here. Boom!” Along with that came the fantasy. If France were like America, where anyone can have a gun, then there would have been a slew of armed Parisians who would have shot the terrorists down, just like in High Noon, quick draw, Bang! Bang! Then no more Boom! Boom!
The fact that there was an armed guard at Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida, and he failed to do a John Wayne to stop “the bad guy,” doesn’t mean that good guys with guns don’t stop bad guys to the folks at the NRA, or to Trump. Then there was the mass shooting in Las Vegas. One thing for certain, there must be as many people totin’ guns in Nevada as in Florida. Especially at a country music crowd, whose demographic has to match Trump voters and gun toters better than a Paul Simon retro concert. Yet they failed to stop a lone 64-year-old auditor before he killed 58 and wounded 851.
Trump also went after the English way. The strict gun control in the UK, according to the US president, has “caused” an epidemic of knife attacks! “There’s blood all over the floors of this hospital,” he said. “They say it’s as bad as a military warzone hospital,” and using gestures, but not as good as his little finger-pointing gun gestures, he said, “… knives, knives, knives.” He shook his head, “London hasn’t been used to that,” then added, “They’re getting used to that. It’s pretty tough,” as if it were not only true, but also a permanent condition.
Trump said, at one point, that he’s not afraid of the NRA and he will back some sort of gun control measures. That wasn’t much more believable than his pronouncements that he wants to talk to Robert Mueller. Or that he was going to release his tax returns. Or that his doctors’ reports, either from Harold Bornstein or Ronny Jackson, could have possibly been true.
Trump is Trump, and the NRA represents his base at its basest.
Neither England or France is going to change their gun control policies in response to this speech.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.