The National Rifle Association is maintaining its support of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, despite a flurry of GOP figures opting to support Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
The NRA has pumped millions of dollars into ads backing Trump since endorsing him at their annual convention in May. So far in the election, the NRA has been the primary spender on behalf of Trump. The group’s political arm has spent nearly $6 million for Trump, the New York Times noted.
They have thrown support behind him despite his past positions and his most recent controversial remarks.
At a rally in North Carolina Tuesday, Trump said “the Second Amendment people” will have to stop Hillary from appointing judges:
“By the way, if she gets to pick, if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know.”
From his phrasing, Trump seemed to be suggesting he’s not one of those people.
The comment was quickly denounced by many, but not the NRA. They insisted, as did the campaign, that the Trump was referring to voting, not violence.
They followed up the remark with a fresh new video going after Clinton as a candidate who will leave Americans “defenseless.”
But Trump, who for most of his life was an advocate of stricter gun control, still does not speak the language of average gun owners.
CNN Contributor S.E. Cupp, an outspoken gun rights advocate, noted that Trump’s gaffe about the “Second Amendment people” stems from a misunderstanding of what it actually means, writing:
“Trump’s remark was not a gaffe. This was Trump attempting to pander to a group of voters he is pretending to understand.”
Trump, who ditched his support for gun control in his late 60s, has emphasized the right to bear arms extensively during the 2016 campaign.
He released a position paper detailing a series of reforms to loosen gun laws across the U.S. and was the only candidate to appear at this year’s SHOT, the largest gun show in the world.
NRA board member Grover Norquist told the New York Times that it is a matter of two polar opposites on firearms, which is why the 5 million-strong organization is backing Trump.
“Trump in his public statements, in his speech at the convention, is the most pro-Second Amendment presidential candidate of either party in living memory,” Norquist said. “And we haven’t had a presidential candidate declare war on the Second Amendment community as aggressively as Hillary.”