HOUSTON — After a year of persistent questions from his Republican rivals over his views on gun ownership, Donald Trump emphatically declared to a Texas crowd that when he wins the presidency, people will call the White House to say they “can’t believe you’ve saved the Second Amendment 100 percent!”
“We're going to save your guns,” Trump roared to the thousands in the Houston hotel ballroom. “They're not going to take away your bullets. They're not going to shorten up your magazines. They're not going to do anything.”
Trump then said it would have been a “beautiful sight” to see the gunman shot by someone armed at the Orlando club last week.
“If we had people where the bullets were going in the opposite direction, right smack between the eyes of this maniac,” Trump began to openly consider. He then added: “That would've been a beautiful, beautiful sight, folks.”
But despite his colorful denouncement of gun restriction efforts, Trump did not specifically refer to the gun measures that the Senate is expected to vote on next week.
After a 14-hour filibuster by senators on Capitol Hill on Wednesday in response to the Orlando massacre, Republican leadership agreed to open up votes on a bill that would require background checks on online and gun show sales and bar individuals on the terror watch list from purchasing a firearm.
Earlier this week, Trump iterated that he backs banning the sale of firearms to those on the terror watch list, but he has yet to say whether his past opposition to expanded background checks will remain when the Senate votes next week.
Trump, however, told the Houston crowd that he explicitly would not “shorten up your magazines,” responding to efforts by some lawmakers to limit the amount of ammunition able to be shot in a round.
An hour before Trump arrived at the event venue, local law enforcement took away a man who was believed to have had a gun in a nearby parking garage, according to NBC affiliate KPRC.
Trump’s two-day swing through the Lone Star state was his first stop since losing the Super Tuesday primary to Ted Cruz by 17 percentage points. On Friday night, he took the stage to the old folk song “Deep in the Heart of Texas."
But it was a productive trip for the presumptive Republican nominee who has struggled to build a fundraising network since all but securing the nomination in early May. Trump raked in more than $8 million from multiple fundraisers in the state, sources told NBC News.
Trump packed in the Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel just outside of Houston for the Friday night rally with several thousand more backers lined up around the building but turned away because of capacity.
The likely nominee also found on-stage support from two prominent Republicans in the state – Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who appeared routinely on the stump with Cruz, and Toni Anne Dashiell, the state’s Republican National Committeewoman.
“It’s time to bring the man that is going to change things in DC: Trump!” Dashiell exclaimed to the thousands before Trump took the stage.
Gov. Greg Abbott, who publicly backed Trump after Cruz dropped out, did not join Trump at any fundraisers or rallies, citing prior commitments.