National Rifle Association Member Discusses President Trump's Speech At Meeting President Trump addressed National Rifle Association members in Dallas Friday at the group's annual meeting. NPR's Mary Louise Kelly speaks with NRA member Liston Matthews who was in the room for the president's speech, for his impressions.
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National Rifle Association Member Discusses President Trump's Speech At Meeting

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National Rifle Association Member Discusses President Trump's Speech At Meeting

National Rifle Association Member Discusses President Trump's Speech At Meeting

National Rifle Association Member Discusses President Trump's Speech At Meeting

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President Trump addressed National Rifle Association members in Dallas Friday at the group's annual meeting. NPR's Mary Louise Kelly speaks with NRA member Liston Matthews who was in the room for the president's speech, for his impressions.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Let's bring in the voice of Liston Matthews of Clayton, N.C. He is an NRA member who was in the room for the president's speech this afternoon. Matthews has been a member of the National Rifle Association for more than 40 years. He blogs about firearms and the Second Amendment. And he joins us now on the line from the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center and the NRA annual meeting in Dallas. Mr. Matthews, welcome to the program.

LISTON MATTHEWS: Well, thank you for having me.

KELLY: What did you come wanting to hear today from the president?

MATTHEWS: It's always good to hear that someone that's sitting in the White House has similar thoughts to what I have. And I was pleased to see that he is talking about allowing teachers to be armed.

KELLY: He talked about training teachers for concealed carry. And that's something you support.

MATTHEWS: I definitely support it. As good as most of our police are, there's just simply not time for them to respond. If it takes them two minutes, they're too late.

KELLY: Let me ask you what else you were listening for from the president today. We mentioned that you've blogged about firearms and specifically about the Second Amendment. I know you wrote an open letter to President Trump, posted it a few weeks ago, in which you wrote - and I'll quote - "if you flip on the Second, there's a good chance you would not get our support in 2020." So let me ask you. Did you hear what you wanted to hear, what you needed to hear?

MATTHEWS: Well, yes, I hope so. I've been in this game a long time, and I have seen what people have done in elections before. And they have voted for politicians who said they were in favor of the Second Amendment. As soon as those politicians got in, they flipped. Politicians can lose simply by having people stay home from the polls.

KELLY: This past year has been a particularly fraught one around the issue of guns, gun control, gun rights in this country, as you well know, following a lot of mass shootings and particularly high-profile ones in Las Vegas and in Parkland, Fla. Have your views shifted at all over this past year over the right way forward for this country to try to prevent those things from happening in future?

MATTHEWS: No, my views have not changed at all. We can't prevent certain acts from happening. The best we can do is mitigate the carnage to the best extent possible. Let's say that in somebody's world, all the guns were taken away, just hypothetically. We still have cars. We still have white vans, like in Toronto. We still have other means of people committing mass carnage. So eliminating any guns doesn't help.

KELLY: Mr. Matthews, a lot of people would disagree with you, as you well know. What I specifically want you to respond to is that some of the NRA's positions have shifted over this last year in light of some of recent events. The NRA has come out, for example, to support an expansion of the FBI's background check system for firearms purchases. What do you make of some of the changes that we have seen in NRA positions over this past year?

MATTHEWS: OK, I can't say that I know enough about the details of that to offer an opinion, and I won't offer an opinion on that particular thing.

KELLY: We talked to another NRA member yesterday on the program who was driving down to the convention. He was disappointed in some of the positions that the NRA has taken in the last year or so and described that there - that the NRA - that there are deep divisions running within the National Rifle Association over the way forward and what should happen with gun legislation. As somebody who has attended the convention in years past, are - do you see that? Do you notice a different tone this year?

MATTHEWS: I think overall, there is more cohesion. I have good friends in the organization who I don't see eye to eye with everything. You know, issues can be discussed, and people can hopefully come to a common ground. What we can't come to a common ground with, though, is people on the other side that say, we want to take this gun today because they'll always want to come back and take that gun tomorrow.

KELLY: Liston Matthews, good to speak with you.

MATTHEWS: OK, thank you.

KELLY: That's NRA member Liston Matthews from Clayton, N.C. He was in the audience today for President Trump's speech to the National Rifle Association.

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