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Trump echoes extreme militant group in NRA speech

Lifting heavily from one book in particular, Trump parroted a group that uses Revolutionary War language to call people to arms.

President Donald Trump speaks during the National Rifle Association-ILA Leadership Forum, Friday, April 28, 2017, in Atlanta. The NRA is holding its 146th annual meetings and exhibits forum at the Georgia World Congress Center. CREDIT: AP Photo/Mike Stewart
President Donald Trump speaks during the National Rifle Association-ILA Leadership Forum, Friday, April 28, 2017, in Atlanta. The NRA is holding its 146th annual meetings and exhibits forum at the Georgia World Congress Center. CREDIT: AP Photo/Mike Stewart

ATLANTA, GEORGIA — President Trump echoed the language of an extreme, anti-government group during his speech to the NRA’s annual meeting on Friday, claiming that the next revolutionary war is coming if the government tries to regulate guns. He also borrowed heavily from a book about the American Revolution, using nearly identical language.

Toward the end of his remarks, Trump shared the story of Paul Revere, a symbol of the American Revolution, and his “famous warning that ‘the British are coming.’” Like Revere, NRA members need to be “vigilant” against those who “would take away our freedoms, restrict our liberties” and “abolish the Second Amendment,” Trump said.

“I know you are all up to the task, since the first generation of Americans stood strong at Concord,” he said.

That same language is often used by the Three Percenters, a self-described “American patriot movement” that the Southern Poverty Law Center calls an “extreme antigovernment group.” The Three Percenters Club, an offshoot founded by Michael Graham III, pushes an anti-government ideology and threatens a second Revolutionary War if the government tries to take away their firearms.

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On its website, the group outlines the history of the Revolutionary War, saying that “April 1775 is more pertinent now than you can imagine.”

“Three percent of the non military colonials fought and won this nation from the most powerful nation in the world at the time,” the group says, explaining the origin of its name. “The three percent can now restore it.”

Three Percenters often reference the “shot heard round the world” and, like Trump, invoke Patriot leader Paul Revere.

Trump’s comments about the Revolutionary War also appear to be lifted directly from Paul Revere’s Ride, a 1994 book about the American Revolution.

Trump said to the NRA:

Many years after the war, young men asked Captain Levi Preston, age ninety-one, why he fought alongside his neighbors at Concord. Was it the Stamp Act? Was it the tea tax? Was it a work of philosophy? No, the old veteran replied. Then why, he was asked. Young man, the captain said, what we meant in going for those red coats was this: We always had governed ourselves, and we always meant to govern ourselves.

David Hackett Fischer, the author of Paul Revere’s Ride and a history professor at Brandeis University, wrote:

Many years later, Captain Levi Preston of Danvers was asked why he went to war that day. At the age of ninety-one, his memory of the Lexington alarm was crystal clear… An historian asked him, “Captain Preston, what made you go to the Concord fight?”

… “Were you oppressed by the Stamp Act?” he asked.

“I never saw any stamps,” Preston answered, “and I always understood that none were ever sold.”

“Well what about the tea tax?”

“Tea tax, I never drank a drop of the stuff and the boys threw it all overboard.”

… “Well then, what was the matter?”

“Young man, what we meant in going for those Redcoats was this: we always had governed ourselves and we always meant to. They didn’t mean we should.”

Watch Trump’s remarks:

The speech marked the first time a sitting president has addressed the NRA’s annual meeting since 1983. Trump, whose campaign last year received more than $30 million from the gun lobby, vowed to “never, ever” let the NRA down.