On December 16, 2012, following the horrific mass-shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that claimed the lives of 26 innocent people—including 20 children between the ages of 6 and 7—President Obama delivered a speech at a prayer vigil in Newtown, Connecticut.
The president, struggling to hold back tears, acknowledged the full weight of the tragedy and paid tribute to the victims, but also promised to use “whatever power this office holds” to prevent future massacres like this from occurring. The implication was clear: stricter gun control regulations. And on January 16, Obama did just that, presenting a four-part gun violence prevention proposal that included banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, as well as closing background check loopholes.
Donald Trump wrote the following the day after President Obama’s poignant Newtown speech:
Furthermore, in his 2000 book The America We Deserve, Trump wrote:
“The Republicans walk the NRA line and refuse even limited restrictions... I generally oppose gun control, but I support the ban on assault weapons and I support a slightly longer waiting period to purchase a gun. With today’s Internet technology we should be able to tell within 72 hours if a potential gun owner has a record.”
Last week, Trump—now the presumptive Republican nominee for president—received the endorsement of the National Rifle Association and delivered a speech at the NRA’s national convention in Louisville, Kentucky. Joining fellow speaker Ted Nugent (really), Trump, whose hotels and clubs are gun-free zones, told the animated crowd that he wished to end gun-free zones—in a convention hall that was a gun-free zone.
On Tuesday night, The Daily Show and its host Trevor Noah took Trump to task for his flip-flopping on guns, remarking, “Donald Trump doesn’t care about the things Republican leaders are supposed to care about.” “A lot of politicians support the NRA, but what makes this surprising is that Trump himself—on multiple occasions—supported gun control measures and even famously tweeted that President Barack Obama spoke for him on the need for more gun control after Sandy Hook,” added Noah. “But that was three years and a nomination ago, so on Friday’s NRA event Trump was a little more on target.”
Cut to a clip of Trump, who said the following onstage at the NRA convention: “I’ve been watching what’s going on and I’ve been looking at airplanes getting blown up in the air and lots of bad things happening… but if you look at Paris, 130 people killed, and these guys came in”—Trump then made finger-pistols, mimicking the murderous terrorists—“boom, boom, you, over here, boom…” “Boom, boom? I don’t know if that’s the most respectful way to explain the Paris shootings. Boom, boom?” said an astonished Noah. “Although to be fair, Trump explains every terrible historic event like that. Hindenburg: huge balloon, boom, flames, humanity, terrible! Lincoln assassination: boring play, nagging wife, boom, out of nowhere, he gets some peace and quiet!”
At a certain point during the NRA speech, when he wasn’t “pandering” (Noah’s words), Trump let slip a little kernel that made the comedian believe the former Celebrity Apprentice host wasn’t “totally onboard” with the NRA’s agenda. “My sons have been members of the NRA for many, many years, and they’re incredible,” said Trump. “They have so many rifles and so many guns that sometimes I get a little bit concerned.”
Oops. “What happened there?” asked a grinning Noah. “A little bit of truth-Trump slipped out! It’s a Trumpian Slip when you tell the truth when you’re trying to pander.”
Later on, Noah explored the evolution of the NRA from gun-safety organization to gun-obsessed one, as well as Trump’s evolution into an even more unfortunately-coiffed version of NRA honcho Wayne LaPierre.
What a difference four years—and the GOP nomination—makes.