Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, has a notoriously interesting relationship with the truth — even with his own record. Monday morning, after on a pro-gun position so extreme even the NRA said was a bridge too far, Trump walked back his position and added one more flip-flop to the pile.
After the massacre at Pulse nightclub in Orlando last week, Trump said at least two times that if the people in the club had been armed, the story would have been different.
“It’s too bad some of the young people that were killed over the weekend didn’t have guns attached to their hips, frankly, where bullets could have thrown in the opposite direction. It would have been a much bigger deal. It sounded like there were no guns…other than a security guard…that there were no guns in the room,” he said on the Howie Carr radio show the Monday after the shooting. “Had people been able to fire back it would have been a much different outcome.”
And, at a Friday rally, Trump repeated that the massacre would have been prevented if there had been more guns in the room: “If some of those wonderful people had guns strapped right here — right to their waist or right to their ankle — and one of the people in that room happened to have it and goes ‘boom, boom,’ you know, that would have been a beautiful sight folks,” Trump said, according to reporting by ABC news.
Monday morning, however, he tweeted a clarification, saying that he was “obviously” not talking about clubgoers themselves.
When I said that if, within the Orlando club, you had some people with guns, I was obviously talking about additional guards or employees
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 20, 2016
His original comments lamented that there were no guns “other than” a security guard, and that specifically “the young people that were killed” didn’t have guns. Nearly all of the victims of the massacre were clubgoers, not employees.
Before Trump walked back his comments, he was taking heat from an unlikely source: the NRA. On ABC’s “This Week,” the executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action Chris Cox said that advocating for mixing guns and alcohol “defies common sense.”
“No one thinks that people should go into a nightclub drinking and carrying firearms,” he said. “That defies common sense. It also defies the law.”
In a separate interview, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre repeated the sentiment: “I don’t think you should have firearms where people are drinking.”
Overall, Trump’s comments about arming more people in the club fit his pattern of talking points after a mass shooting. In the wake of the mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, which left 10 dead, he said in a speech, “I will tell you — if you had a couple of the teachers or somebody with guns in that room, you would have been a hell of a lot better off.”
He also criticized gun control laws after the November terrorist attacks in Paris, saying that if he had been in the attack, armed with a gun, the result would have been “much, much different.”
Trump’s core argument — that a so-called good guy with a gun is necessary to stop a bad guy with a gun — comes straight from the NRA playbook, but doesn’t line up with the facts. According to an FBI study of active shooter incidents between 2000 and 2013, 21 active shootings were stopped by unarmed citizens, while just one was stopped by an armed civilian.