Donald Trump kicked off his appearance at the National Rifle Association’s annual convention on Friday by awkwardly reading the names of the 21 people slaughtered with an AR-15-style rifle in Uvalde a few days earlier. The NRA played a recording of a bell clanging as the former president strained to pronounce the names of the victims.
The speech didn’t get any less offensive from there.
Trump echoed Republican lawmakers and conservative pundits by bashing Democrats for “virtue cycling” in the wake the massacre, blaming the shooting on everything but guns, and proposing a series of impractical solutions to the epidemic of mass shootings in America. The list of solutions did not include gun reform, of course, which Trump claimed would have done nothing to stop the shooter in Uvalde — despite the shooter having bought two assault rifles just after his 18th birthday earlier this month.
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Trump did propose ensuring classroom doors are lockable from the inside as a way to cut down on school shootings. This might not do the trick, however, as Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw said in a press conference on Friday that the shooter locked himself in adjoining classrooms before opening fire on children.
Trump cycled through many of the other fixes conservatives have floated this week, including “drastically changing our approve to mental health” and doing whatever it takes to “harden our schools.” He then said teachers should be carrying guns, to loud applause. “There is no sign more inviting to a mass killer than a sign that declares a gun free zone,” he said, to more applause.
Speaking of teachers, Trump put some of the blame on school administrators for “making excuses” and not “confronting bad behavior head on and quickly.”
Trump continued to argue that if Congress can send money to Ukraine as it fights off Russia’s invasion, “we should be able to do whatever it takes to keep our children safe.” His message came down, as it always does, to his loss to President Biden in 2020. He lamented what’s happened to Ukraine, and said it would have never happened if the election wasn’t “rigged.” He offered a particularly grim vision of what America might be like should he retake the White House in 2024. “If I ever run for president and win . . . I would crack down on violent crime like never before,” he said, noting how he sent federal forces to break up Black Lives Matter demonstrations in the summer of 2020.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that despite the enormity of what happened in Uvalde on Tuesday, Trump’s speech at the NRA’s annual convention was not much different than any of his other speeches. He spent a few minutes waxing idiotic on the news of the week — in this case 21 people including 19 children being slaughtered — before fuming about the 2020 election.
He even did a little dance at the end.
At least “Macho Man” wasn’t playing.
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