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Gun Owners React To Donald Trump's 'Second Amendment People' Comments


Donald Trump's supporters have tried to pour cold water on this controversy, saying it's obvious that Trump was trying to rally Second Amendment supporters to vote against Hillary Clinton, not to incite violence. Clinton supporters and others have spoken out against the comments, calling them disturbing and dangerous. NPR's Nathan Rott reports that same division exists in the gun community.


NATHAN ROTT, BYLINE: There are about 10 people inside the shop at Impact Guns in Boise, Idaho, more if you count the people using the shop's indoor shooting range.


ROTT: Kyle Lambert is here to buy a suppressor. He spoke to member station Boise State Public Radio.

KYLE LAMBERT: I'm a little bit of a gun fanatic, you could say. I shoot 3-gun. I shoot steel challenge.

ROTT: Lambert says he leans libertarian and isn't much of a Trump fan.

LAMBERT: Well, I think Trump's always kind of crazy, you know? He likes to incite populist views on things.

ROTT: And in Lambert's, opinion that's all Trump was trying to do with his comments suggesting Second Amendment people could stop Hillary Clinton.

LAMBERT: You know, I don't think he was trying to incite violence as much as he's trying to, you know, slander his opponent.

ROTT: But that doesn't make Lambert any more comfortable with the words. As a gun owner, he says he doesn't support violence, and he doesn't want a presidential candidate's comments, even if off the cuff, to connect the two. The same could be said for many gun owners and Second Amendment advocates. Clark Aposhian is the chairman of the Utah Shooting Sports Council.

CLARK APOSHIAN: I mean does the other side really think that we're going to pick up guns and go seek her out at a political event or a rally because Donald Trump told us to? No, no, nor do I think that Donald Trump actually said that.

ROTT: Aposhian is also not a huge fan of Donald Trump.

APOSHIAN: He was my 16th choice.

ROTT: But he says he will vote Republican in November, and he can't imagine a Clinton presidency. He says the same is true for a lot of his friends in the shooting world.

APOSHIAN: They may not be voting for Trump. They may be just voting against Hillary. I don't know. And so it doesn't really matter what he says.

ROTT: Aposhian says he thinks that's a significant portion of gun owners in the U.S. - people who aren't excited about Trump or his divisiveness but can't stomach Clinton. Michael Hammond falls under that category. He's the legislative council for Gun Owners of America, a gun rights group that has nearly 1.5 million followers on Facebook and a group that has not endorsed Trump to this point. Hammond believes Clinton is out to abolish the Second Amendment, and he supports Trump trying to rally people against her.

MICHAEL HAMMOND: What he meant was the peaceful use of legal process to defeat an anti-gun swing vote.

ROTT: He says that same peaceful political process is happening now with the Republican delay in considering President Obama's Supreme Court nominee.

HAMMOND: Gun Owners of America and the NRA probably are the two people or the two organizations most instrumental in stopping the confirmation of Merrick Garland as the anti-gun swing vote to the Supreme Court.

ROTT: It's exactly that kind of process, Hammond says, that Trump was referring to with his controversial comments earlier this week. Nathan Rott, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Nathan Rott is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk, where he focuses on environment issues and the American West.