Trump's still taking orders from the NRA even as it falls apart


Trump seems to be abandoning his previous support for universal background checks, aligning with the anti-gun safety position of the NRA.

The NRA is embroiled in controversy surrounding lavish spending by the organization and a spate of resignations from the organization's board, but the anti-gun safety organization still has a solid grip on Trump.

On Tuesday, the Washington Post reported Trump is backing down from his support of background checks, which he voiced in the immediate aftermath of the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton in early August.

After Trump made statements in favor of background checks, NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre called Trump several times. The NRA spent $1.6 million to lobby against the background check bill passed by the House of Representatives in February, and it seems as though their calls to Trump may have paid off.

While on vacation in New Jersey, "Trump has focused in public remarks on the need to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill while emphasizing that the nation already has 'very strong background checks right now' — positions that hew more closely to the views of the National Rifle Association," according to the Post.

Meanwhile, mayors, police chiefs, veterans, and 90% of Americans want gun safety legislation like background checks, especially in the wake of multiple mass shootings.

Yet Trump seems to be aligning himself with the NRA, an organization that is facing massive infighting and scandals. On Tuesday, Newsweek reported that Richard Childress submitted his resignation from the NRA board. Childress is the fifth board member to resign in the last few weeks.

In early August, the Washington Post reported that three board members resigned after they questioned the lavish spending of LaPierre and other NRA executives. The three board members wrote that their "confidence in the NRA's leadership has been shattered."

Examples of excessive spending by NRA leaders emerged amidst messy lawsuits between the NRA and its longtime ad firm, Ackerman McQueen. The NRA bankrolled LaPierre's European getaways to the tune of almost a quarter of a million dollars. The NRA also paid nearly $200,000 for LaPierre's fancy clothes, according to Ackerman McQueen.

Even Fox News turned on LaPierre, with host Steve Hilton calling him "an odious little grifter."

In April, the president of the organization, Oliver North, resigned amid allegations of financial issues at the organization. In May, financial woes caused the NRA to shut down NRA TV, a propaganda arm that produced far-right television content.

Despite the fact that the NRA seems to be falling apart, the group is keeping Trump on a tight leash.

"We've seen this movie before: President Trump, feeling public pressure in the immediate aftermath of a horrible shooting, talks about doing something meaningful to address gun violence, but inevitably, he backtracks in response to pressure from the NRA and the hard-right," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement. "These retreats from President Trump are not only disappointing but also heartbreaking, particularly for the families of the victims of gun violence."

The House passed bills addressing America's gun violence epidemic more than 170 days ago. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell allows them to collect dust, and it looks like Trump will kowtow to the NRA rather than push McConnell to take action.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.