Top Republicans including Donald Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Sen. Mitch McConnell and Gov. Matt Bevin will all speak at the National Rifle Association annual meeting in Louisville Friday.
In a conference call on Thursday, Congressman John Yarmuth, a Democrat from Louisville, criticized Trump’s attendance at the event, saying that he was “one of the most incredible panderers.”
“Pandering to the worst instincts of America — xenophobia, anti-Muslim sentiment, anti-immigrant sentiment, misogyny — this is why I think he is singularly unqualified to be president of the United States,” Yarmuth said. “I hope that during his appearance in Louisville there is an enormous outpouring of opposition.”
The NRA convention is expected to draw more than 70,000 people over the weekend and features 8,000 exhibitors.
Yarmuth said he “welcomes” the NRA to Louisville, but criticized the organization for not pushing for solutions to end gun violence.
“I’m glad they’re spending their money here,” he said. “I think it’s one of the most useful expenditures of money the NRA makes.”
Yarmuth said he favors universal background checks for those purchasing firearms and closing the “gun show loophole,” which allows people to purchase a gun from private sellers, including at gun shows, without a background check.
In response, NRA spokeswoman Amy Hunter said the organization is intent on promoting safety and safe storage of firearms.
“When politicians say things like that, what they’re saying in code is that there should be more laws that prevent law-abiding people from exercising their Second Amendment rights,” e said. “They’re saying ‘gun control,’ they’re not really talking about gun safety.”
Attendees will not be allowed to carry firearms at the political rally featuring Trump and other speakers. Weapons will be permitted at the rest of the convention as long as individuals comply with state and federal gun laws.