- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 25, 2019

INDIANAPOLIS — Some gun rights advocates are revolting against the Trump administration’s bump stock ban, but attendees at the National Rifle Association’s annual meetings say they give President Trump a pass and are still behind him.

“You know what? I didn’t even know what a bump stock was,” said Patrick Callahan, 61, from Wyoming. “I have no problem with a bump stock being banned, to be honest with you. I think there’s always balances.”

Mr. Callahan said he’s been happy with Mr. Trump overall and that he’ll be voting for him in 2020, saying his willingness to mix things up with the press and his political opponents is a welcome contrast to other recent GOP nominees.

Trump is the type of fighter you need,” he said. “You’re in a knife fight at 3 a.m. in a back alley and you need to be able to fight back, and bring a bigger knife or a gun it’s rough and tumble, and the Democrats play that way.”

On Friday, Mr. Trump will speak to the NRA for the third straight year as president, and his appearance will be the highlight for many attendees.

They say he’s still checking all the right boxes for them, defending their Second Amendment rights and battling the Democrat-led states who are pushing for more restrictions.

Even the bump stock ban, which irked some leaders within the gun-rights movement, doesn’t bother NRA rank-and-file members.

“That’s fine. We don’t need them,” said Daryl Belik, 72, a retired farmer from North Dakota who praised the president’s approach. “He’s doing what he feels right in his mind, and that’s what I think most of us want.”

The administration announced in December that it was banning the devices, which attach to semiautomatic rifles to mimic the rate of machine-gun fire, under the law that already bans almost all ownership of machine guns.

Gun rights advocates, including groups like Gun Owners of America and the Firearms Policy Foundation, promptly sued. They said the administration was improperly reversing past rulings by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) that the devices themselves aren’t weapons and thus outside what the government is allowed to regulate.

The federal courts, including the Supreme Court, have turned aside the challenges thus far.

The Justice Department said it took a fresh look at the issue after the October 2017 Las Vegas shooting, in which the gunman used bump stocks to rain fire down on concertgoers, killing 58 people, and concluded that the devices should be defined as machine guns.

Brett Meeker, 61, from Pennsylvania, said he’s less concerned about bump stocks than he is the rhetorical or legislative assault on gun rights.

He said he was at first wary of Mr. Trump, saying he figured him to be a “New York liberal playboy.”

But the party establishment’s antipathy to Mr. Trump proved endearing to Mr. Meeker.

“I mean, when all the former Republican presidents are against him — to me, maybe that’s a good idea,” he said, adding that Mr. Trump has generally followed through on his campaign pledges.

“I figured it’s just another guy telling you what you want to hear, but he’s been pretty true to it and for that, I’ve been very pleased,” he said. “I wasn’t sure what to expect.”

The massive exhibit hall at the Indiana Convention Center will also officially open Friday for convention attendees, who were greeted Thursday by signs touting “miles of aisles” of guns and gear to peruse, firearms already on display for raffle, and giant images of NRA figures like Oliver North, the group’s president.

Mr. Belik said attendees need to show Democrats and gun control advocates who are talking about banning guns like the AR-15 that they’re not about to cede that debate.

“They’ll go after everything. That’s what we’re here for,” he said.

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