As U.S. President Donald Trump delivered the keynote address Friday at the National Rifle Association’s annual convention in downtown Atlanta, scores of gun control advocates are planning to demonstrate across town against the nation’s most powerful gun lobby group.
Trump, who supported tougher gun restrictions before he entered the political arena, became the first president to address the NRA’s annual convention since Ronald Reagan in 1983.
WATCH: President’s speech in Atlanta
Gun control advocates face a reinvigorated NRA, which spent more than $30 million to help Trump win the presidency.
After Trump’s surprising victory last November, NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre said it was time to “defeat the forces that have aligned against our freedom once and for all.”
Support for gun rights
President Trump has already taken action in support of gun rights proponents. He signed a bill that reversed a rule implemented by President Barack Obama that would have required the federal government to provide information about mentally ill people undergoing background checks for gun purchases.
Still, the NRA has a busy legislative agenda. It is pushing for a federal “concealed-carry reciprocity” law that would validate nationwide any state’s concealed-carry permits. The gun lobby group also aims to eliminate gun-free zones at schools and relax state requirements for background checks.
Gun control advocates maintain validating state permits throughout the U.S. would effectively turn the weakest state standards into national law.
Gun control proponents admit achieving legislative gains on a national level are unlikely. But they cite victories in the states where laws have been enacted requiring universal background checks and tighter access to guns for domestic abusers.
Two of the groups planning to demonstrate in Atlanta are Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense of America, which was formed after the 2012 shooting deaths of 20 children and six adults at an elementary school in the northeastern town of Newtown, Connecticut.
Moms Demand Action co-founder Shannon Watts said in a statement to VOA that a top priority for gun control groups is defeating the concealed-carry reciprocity initiative.
“That’s why Moms Demand Action volunteers and gun violence survivors are in Atlanta this weekend, and it’s why we’ll continue to show up in D.C. (the District of Columbia) and in statehouses and boardrooms across the country until our nation’s lawmakers put the safety of our families and communities above the profits of the gun lobby,” Watts said.