Donald Trump told the National Rifle Association Friday "I will not let you down," just moments after earning the group's official endorsement at the annual NRA convention in Louisville, Kentucky.
Speaking at the NRA's leadership forum Friday, Trump warned gun-loving Americans that "Crooked Hillary Clinton," on the other hand, will "abolish the Second Amendment" if elected to office. Trump repeated the line, which Politifact has deemed false, four times during his speech to a largely friendly NRA crowd.
While Clinton favors stricter gun control measures, including a ban on assault weapons, and has promised to fight against the NRA, she has never called for abolishing the Second Amendment, but has called for protecting it while taking steps to curb gun violence.
"The Second Amendment is under threat like never before," Trump said to a crowd of thousands, many of them wearing pro-Trump (and anti-Clinton) slogans on their shirts and hats. Clinton is "the most anti-gun" candidate to ever run for president, he added, claiming the Democratic front runner wants to disarm single moms and grandmothers who live in "rough neighborhoods."
"Hillary wants to take away any chance they have of survival. That's why we're gonna call her 'Heartless Hillary,'" he said, to applause.
If Clinton and other Democrats are so opposed to guns, Trump suggested, perhaps they should disarm their own security guards and Secret Service agents.
"Let's see how they feel walking around without their guns on their bodyguards," he said.
Trump's appearance at the NRA Friday and the group's endorsement are significant, given his previous support for a ban on assault-weapons, something the NRA vehemently opposes. But Trump has made a pro-gun stance a major part of his presidential campaign. He has said that he is a lifetime member of the NRA and holds a concealed carry permit in New York.
Trump received standing ovations when he spoke about getting rid of gun-free zones at schools and military bases, plans he has brought up before on the campaign trail, as well as repealing President Barack Obama's executive orders on gun control.
"They'll be unsigned the first hour that I'm in office," he said.
As he has in the past, Trump argued that the Paris and San Bernardino terror attacks could have been prevented if the victims were armed.
"The carnage would not have been the same by any stretch of the imagination," he said.
Trump also challenged Clinton to release a list of potential Supreme Court justices she would consider as to succeed the late Justice Antonin Scalia, after he released his own list of potential nominees earlier this week.
He fed the crowd plenty of red meat, praising his son's expertise with guns, in addition to talking about making the US military bigger, crushing ISIS, and building a wall along the US-Mexico border.
Trump also claimed that his popularity among female voters is rising, now that he is the party's presumptive nominee. A Fox News poll released on Thursday showed his favorability with Republican women was up to 65 percent, ten points higher than in the outlet's March poll. Among women overall, Trump's favorability remains unchanged, with 63 percent of female voters reporting a negative view of the Republican.
"My poll numbers with men are through the roof, but I like women more than men," he said, eliciting laughter from the crowd.
The rhetoric-filled speech also took aim at members of the media, whom Trump characterized as being "among the most dishonest (people) I've ever met."
That was somewhat of a theme at the event, with NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action, singling out "liberal" outlets like NBC, CNN, and CBS for having an anti-gun bias.
"The media elites conspire to tell us not what the news is but how we should think," said LaPierre. "They think Americans all over the heartland of this country are stupid."
Both men urged NRA members to get to the voting booth this November or "you can kiss your guns goodbye."
"If we don't show up in force to the polls this November, we will witness the end of individual freedom in this country," Cox warned. "That's not hyperbole, it's the truth."