"President Trump is straightforward and candid in his support for our Second Amendment freedom. This interview is a great testimony to his unyielding belief in every law abiding American's right to defend themselves and their families. He has earned the vote of every gun owner, and indeed anyone who values the Bill of Rights, to lead our country for four more years. Please vote Donald J. Trump for President."
– Wayne LaPierre, Executive Vice President, NRA
“An Oval Office interview is exceedingly rare. We enjoyed the opportunity to sit down with President Trump because he is a fellow NRA member who recognizes that our Second Amendment hangs in the balance this election. I thank President Trump for giving us this exclusive interview, and encourage everyone to read it and vote on Nov. 3 like their freedom depends upon it, because it does.”
– Jason Ouimet, Executive Director, NRA-ILA
A white door opened across the Oval Office and President Donald J. Trump stopped in the doorway, backlit by windows on a bright summer day. Energetically, he tapped his fists on his thighs as he surveyed the people waiting for him in the white room with the golden drapes and the pantheon of paintings of American history’s iconic leaders like Abraham Lincoln and Benjamin Franklin.
The leader of the free world walked confidently into the Oval Office, settled in behind his desk, and waved off the various photographers who had come to document yet another moment in the history of this historical president.
As the room grew quiet, President Trump planted his elbows firmly on a desk blotter depicting the Declaration of Independence, leaned forward, and focused his attention on me—intently and expertly shifting gears for his latest in a long line of scheduled appointments.
Seated to my left was White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who just before the president entered the Oval Office, explained that he agreed to this interview because he wanted to speak directly to NRA members in a year where the pandemic canceled the NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits, and with it, his speech to the members of the NRA. “He likes to speak directly to audiences. He does all he can to get his message out without the spin,” she said.
The president then broke the momentary silence in the room, and stated firmly: “I will never waver. I will never disappoint. I have and I will continue to protect the Second Amendment.”
I was struck by the powerful conviction with which he delivered the statement—strong, clear and concise straight-talk from a man who unabashedly and confidently means what he says and says what he means. Promises made—promises kept.
“Thank you, Mr. President,” I said with my eyes still locked with his.
He then nodded, leaned back into his chair, smiled warmly and complimented the White House press secretary for arranging an interview with the National Rifle Association.
In this polite moment, a Secret Service agent stopped in a doorway, and with a series of gestures, asked the president if he wanted him to stay or go.
President Trump smiled and said, “You can go relax. It’s okay. If he does anything, I can handle him.”
As the Secret Service agent grinned and closed the door, I said, “Mr. President, I think you could take me.”
President Trump nodded and with a brief smile said, “Let’s get started.”
I began by asking, “Mr. President, this, as you have noted so well, is a time when we need a law-and-order president. You are getting endorsements from police organizations for this and many other reasons. How will you continue to foster American freedom and safety in this trying time?”
President Trump nodded and said, “The Democrats don’t respect our law enforcement, but I do.” He then talked about Chicago and Portland—cities whose mere names have become loaded with images of chaos, anarchy and murder—and said, “We need law and order to keep our businesses safe; we need law and order to save lives; we need law and order so that freedom can prosper in this great nation. We can’t let the anarchists win. The American way of life, the freedoms we enjoy, are what my administration is fighting for. The other side is for the mob. They are investigating the police in Portland for protecting a court house, not the anarchists who tried to burn it down. Is that what the American people want? I don’t think so.”
When asked about the many judges his administration has nominated to the federal bench, and that, thanks to the steady guidance of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have been confirmed, President Trump said, “We could have over 300 judges appointed to the federal bench by the end of my first term—this includes two Supreme Court justices. I was given a large batch to fill—as many as a hundred openings—by President Obama because he wasn’t focused on nominating judges. A lot of people think this has been one of our greatest accomplishments. The Democrats want to put activists on the bench. We just want judges who will rule according to the law—the Constitution.”
President Trump put up his hands as he said this. He clearly found it exasperating that nominating judges who will simply uphold what a law actually says, not what some might like it to say, is treated as controversial by the mainstream media and by many Democrats in Congress. “And we have a lot more to do,” said the president.
This is clearly true, as the U.S. Supreme Court recently rejected many Second Amendment cases in which plaintiffs challenged laws that clearly infringe upon this constitutional right. Also, many lower courts, though bolstered by President Trump’s nominees, are still overrun with activist judges who continue to rule against our constitutionally protected freedom.
I then said, “Joe Biden’s campaign website includes 11 pages of bullet-pointed bans and restrictions on our Second Amendment rights. How will you show people the stark contrast between your agenda for protecting freedom and Biden’s goals for destroying it?”
President Trump sat back as he considered this before saying, “I am talking about this a lot. I respect American freedom. Biden wants to take it away. We won’t have a Second Amendment if he is elected.”
The president then continued, “I could have made many deals that would have been bad for the Second Amendment and for freedom and safety, but I’ve given zero ground, as you probably know. They would terminate your Second Amendment. They would take your guns away. I’ve held firm. I’ve given zero ground. I am going to protect your Second Amendment and Biden would decimate it.”
The conversation then turned to Chicago and Baltimore and the fact that the elected officials who run these cities are blaming our Second Amendment rights, as well as our brave men and women in blue, for the problems their policies created. I asked, “What can you do to bring the light of freedom, and all the peace and prosperity it brings with it, to these communities?”
“These Democrats are investigating law enforcement rather than the people who throw Molotov cocktails,” said the president. “It’s just lucky that we are here right now or this would be happening in every city. These are the same people who want your guns. So now these places are seeing a tremendous surge in gun sales as good people try to protect themselves from the bad people the Democrats are protecting.”
This basic truth is so plainly obvious, yet so unreported in the mainstream media, that President Trump shook his head in bewilderment.
As he did, I thought of the media members who were just a few doors away in the Press Room and the narratives they spin about this issue in particular. Is it any wonder this president uses Twitter and rallies at every opportunity to sidestep the dishonest press, and communicate these basic truths to the American people?
I experienced this firsthand when I met various journalists in the Press Room that day, and they’d invariably ask me: “Who are you with?” After I answered, they’d say something like, “Oh, you’re with the NRA,” and make an expression as if they’d just swallowed a mouthful of bad milk.
We then switched to a topic that, for purely partisan political reasons, the mainstream media continues to try and paint as “controversial.”
“Mr. President, each state’s driver’s license is honored across this great nation, yet a permit to carry a concealed gun—which, in contrast, is a right specifically protected in the U.S. Bill of Rights—is often not respected by other states. Will you support a national reciprocity act so that law-abiding gun owners can more easily travel with their freedom?”
“You are talking about concealed-carry, right?” asked President Trump. “About people who cross state lines?” he asked.
“Yes, Mr. President,” I replied. “Right now, simply taking a wrong turn from Pennsylvania into New Jersey can result in years in prison for an otherwise law-abiding American citizen.”
President Trump nodded and said, “I will support such legislation. If it comes across my desk I will sign it.”
The president, of course, had a concealed-carry permit while he lived in New York City. He has said many times that he found it necessary to be ready to protect himself. He has also said many times that he believes all lawful citizens are guaranteed this same, basic human right.
Our discussion of people traveling with their freedom then led us to the topic of the millions of new gun owners in America, many of whom are women.
“If the Democrats get in, they are going to take your guns away,” said the president. “If you’re a woman or you’re anybody, and a criminal breaks into your home, they will still have a gun—an illegal gun—but you won’t and they’ll know it.”
As our time began to wind down, this strong defender of the Second Amendment and proud father stated, “I have shot guns many times, but my boys are great shots. World-class shots.”
He said this as he picked up a copy of the August issue of America’s 1st Freedom, which features his son Eric on the cover. He said, “Only in America could I have kids like this.”
Filled with pride and conviction, he said, “We need the Second Amendment. This important American freedom won’t end on my watch.”
He then stood up and delivered one final message: “I have great respect for Wayne. Say hello to him for me. And you tell all the members of your great organization I am totally for the Second Amendment. We’re with the Second Amendment all the way.”