Trump told thousands of gun enthusiasts gathered for an annual conference that they've got a friend in the White House. He also vowed to build his much-talked-about wall along the Mexican border - eventually.
US President Donald Trump pledged to maintain America's liberal gun-ownership laws Friday, drawing strong support from the country's most powerful gun-lobby - the National Rifle Association (NRA).
The NRA was one of the first special interest groups to throw its support behind Trump during last year's election campaign.
"As your president, I will never, ever infringe on the right of the people to keep and bear arms," Trump told thousands of people attending the NRA's annual convention in Atlanta, Georgia.
Trump addressed the gun group on the 99th day of presidency, which is still without any legislative achievements, though he has signed a litany of executive orders aimed at loosening federal regulations and reviewing free trade agreements.
Some of the gathered gun advocates were also strong supporters of Trump's plan to build a wall along the Mexican border. His efforts there have so far failed because neither Mexico nor the US Congress is willing to foot the bill for its construction. Cost estimates top $20 billion.
But Trump remained undeterred, insisting that sooner or later one of his signature campaign issues will be realized.
"We need a wall. We'll build the wall. Don't even think about it," he told the crowd.
Politics and elections
His election victory in November over Democrat Hillary Clinton also featured prominently in his speech. Speculating on who might run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, Trump suggested US Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts might be in the running.
And Trump used a derogatory nickname he had adopted for her last year.
"It may be Pochahontas, and she is not big on the NRA," Trump said of Warren, referencing the famous Native American woman from the 17th century. Warren has said she had some Native American ancestry.
He also highlighted the theme of responsible gun ownership.
"You have a true friend and champion in the White House," Trump said. "We want to assure you of the sacred right of self defense for all of our citizens."
The NRA produced a short video previewing Trump's speech. It drew a parallel between his address and the one given by the last sitting president to address the gun owners' convention - Ronald Reagan nearly 35 years ago.
In 1983, Reagan excited NRA members gathered in Phoenix, Arizona during his re-election campaign.
"We will never disarm any American who seeks to protect his or her family from fear and harm," Reagan said at the time.
bik/es (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)