The National Rifle Association (NRA), a major American gun lobby group, has endorsed presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s bid for the White House.
NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris Cox announced the decision at a national convention on Friday.
Moments after the gun group endorsed Trump, the New York businessman walked onto the stage and dove right into attacking Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton over her pledges for greater gun control.
“Hillary wants to disarm vulnerable Americans in high-crime neighborhoods,” he told a cheerful crowd of hundreds. “I am going to put criminals behind bars and guarantee that law-abiding Americans have the right to self-defense.”
"Crooked Hillary Clinton is the most anti-gun, anti-Second Amendment candidate ever to run for office," Trump added.
He argued that terrorist attacks similar to the ones that were carried out in Paris and San Bernardino, California, last year could have been prevented if the victims were carrying guns.
Earlier this year, Trump floated a proposal to do away with gun-free school zones.
The former reality TV star also accused Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, of hypocrisy for surrounding themselves with armed Secret Service agents while pushing for stricter gun control.
Clinton has called for more thorough background checks and enhanced control on firearms.
She responded to Trump’s comments in a tweet, telling him "You're wrong. We can uphold Second Amendment rights while preventing senseless gun violence.”
Despite presenting himself as a fierce defender of the Second Amendment, Trump has not always been an outspoken supporter of the right to bear arms.
In 2000, he backed a ban on assault weapons while proposing longer waiting periods to buy a gun-- both positions the NRA ardently opposes.
Last week, Clinton signaled that she was ready to debate Trump on guns.
On Saturday, she will attend a Miami dinner by the Trayvon Martin Foundation, a gun-control group established in honor of the 17-year-old black Florida teenager who was slain by a neighborhood watchman in 2012.