Donald Trump’s performance at the NRA deepens America’s gun divide 

Credit: AP

The two sides were separated by mounted police, which just about sums up the state of the American debate on gun laws. 

On one side of the road were furious anti-gun activists and protesters, appalled and outraged by the National Rifle Association (NRA) meeting in Houston. On the other side were pro-gun delegates who looked at the protesters with contempt.

America is a country divided on everything, and guns laws are high on that list.

Inside, Donald Trump decided to read the names of the 19 murdered children and the two dead teachers. His critics saw it as tasteless and inappropriate given his fierce support for the NRA and for the right of even teenagers to buy assault rifles. After each name, a bell rang out.

Americans are thoroughly divided over gun laws and the NRA convention, ITV News reporter Robert Moore reports

It was a hollow and deeply cynical piece of political theatre, said his opponents.

Many of the parents and grandmothers of those lost precious children had told the world that they wanted reform of America’s notoriously loose gun laws.

The former president has his own agenda - winning back the White House in 2024  - and it is difficult not to conclude he was using the Uvalde school tragedy for his own political purposes.

He told the convention that teachers should be armed, classrooms hardened, and access to schools should be limited to a single door.

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Like many at this NRA convention, Trump believes that the recent spate of mass shootings only reinforces the need for ordinary citizens to carry weapons. 

Ever since the Sandy Hook massacre a decade ago, the NRA’s principal argument on mass shootings has been: “The only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” Trump repeated that argument on Friday night.

What it means is that America will now descend into a vitriolic and bitter debate until the Congressional midterm elections in November.

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In the meantime, no significant laws to tighten gun access will be passed. Defenders of the second amendment in Congress will wait for the outrage to fade and get back to business as usual.  That is the NRA playbook.

The parents of Uvalde are right to be outraged. The police botched the rescue mission by failing to storm the school in time - now the politicians in the pay of the NRA seem to be doing their best to betray the grieving families.

This is what a broken political system looks like.