UPDATE | Trump tells NRA he'll fight for gun rights


INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — President Donald Trump vowed to fight for gun rights as he addressed the National Rifle Association today and implored members of the group – struggling to maintain its influence – to rally behind his re-election bid.

Speaking to the group for his third straight year, Trump declared himself a "champion for the Second Amendment."

"It's under assault," he said of the constitutional right to bear arms. "But not while we're here."

And he told the thousands in the crowd: "You better get out there and vote," saying of the 2020 election, "It seems like it's a long ways away. It's not."

The nation's largest gun rights organization was pivotal to Trump's victory in 2016. But three years later, the group is limping toward the next election divided and diminished.

It's a reversal that has stunned longtime observers and gun control advocates and raises questions about the one-time kingmaker's clout heading into 2020 as Trump and Vice President Mike Pence headline the group's annual convention in Indianapolis on Friday.

"I've never seen the NRA this vulnerable" said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit that advocates for gun control measures.

In the months after Trump's election, the NRA seemed on top of the world. After pouring tens of millions of dollars into the presidential race, its dark horse candidate occupied the desk in the Oval Office. Republicans controlled both branches of Congress. And the emboldened group had ambitious plans for easing state and national gun regulations.

9:50 a.m.

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says the National Rifle Association is getting stronger, not weaker, and is doing important work vital to making his "Make America Great Again" slogan a reality.

Trump is heading to Indianapolis today to address the nation's largest gun-rights organization, which played a pivotal role in his victory in 2016.

The NRA spent millions of dollars to help elect Trump in 2016 but had a much lower profile during the 2018 midterms. It's unclear how visible the NRA will be in 2020 after a series of mass shootings that has hardened public sentiment against gun violence.

Trump disagrees with those who say the NRA is getting weaker. He tweets that the NRA is "getting stronger & stronger and doing some really great and important work."

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