“If we should restrict guns to prevent gun violence, why not also ban trucks and vans to prevent vehicular attacks?”
It’s a sarcastic refrain commonly used by the gun lobby to argue against gun control, and one that U.S. President Donald Trump made sure to invoke during his address to at Friday’s NRA convention in Dallas, Texas.
Speaking at the powerful gun lobby’s annual showpiece event for the fourth consecutive year, Trump appeared to reference the April 23 van attack in Toronto to support his argument.
“It seems that if we’re going to outlaw guns like so many people want to do… you know what I’m going to say, we are going to have to outlaw immediately all vans and all trucks, which are now the new form of death for the maniac terrorists, right?” Trump said to a chorus of cheers.
“They take a truck and they run over eight people and wound 16 like what happened in New York — and what just happened.
“So let’s ban immediately all trucks, all vans, maybe all cars. How about cars? Let’s not sell any more cars.”
It was one of several traditional pro-gun arguments brought up by Trump in his attempt to woo the NRA — the group spent $30 million on his presidential campaign, but expressed concerns about some of his utterances about gun control in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Fla.
Trump’s pro-gun rhetoric also comes as Republicans look to midterm elections in November. “You gotta get out and vote,” he told NRA members on more than occasion.
WATCH: Trump discusses Parkland, Florida school shooting during NRA speech
Several pro-gun activists have sought to use the Toronto van attack to deride arguments for gun control.
Guy Morin, vice president of the Quebec-based gun lobby group Tous contre un registre Quebecois des armes à feu (United against a Quebecois gun registry), tweeted this cartoon of a van depicted as a firearm.
The morning after the attack, the Bellevue, Wash.-based Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA) issued a press release sarcastically suggesting that rental vans should now be referred to as “assault weapons,” given that guns such as AR-15 and AK-47 rifles are referred to by that moniker.
“What happened in Toronto Monday was a horrible tragedy. Fatal vehicle attacks have been increasing,” said CCRKBA chairman Alan Gottlieb. “If a gun had been the weapon instead of a vehicle, all of those would have been mass shootings.
“How should we define an ‘assault vehicle’?… once we define them, should we ban them, require special training to operate them, or just raise the age limit to buy or rent one? Or is the problem the individual driver, rather than the equipment he turns into a weapon? Once you realize how absurd it is to call a car an ‘assault weapon,’ you see the lunacy of defining, and then banning, so-called ‘assault rifles.'”
Conservative news outlet The Patriot Post also published an article suggesting that if the Toronto attacker had killed with a gun, “we’d be hearing calls to ban the tool he used rather than address the underlying issue,” while popular pro-gun blog Bearing Arms opined that the Toronto attack proves that bad people will always find a way to kill people, and that gun control won’t help matters.