Months after Parkland shooting, Trump embraces NRA in campaign-like speech

DALLAS, May 4 (Reuters) - President Donald Trump urged gun-rights advocates on Friday to support Republican candidates in the November congressional elections, warning that Democrats would try to tighten firearms laws in the wake of a string of mass shootings.

Speaking at the annual convention of the National Rifle Association in Dallas, Trump said, "The one thing that stands between Americans and the elimination of our Second Amendment rights has been conservatives in Congress."

He said, "We've got to get Republicans elected."

Trump's Republicans are fighting to maintain their majority control of Congress in November's midterm elections.

A massacre that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14 seemed to mark a turning point in America's long-running gun debate, sparking a youth-led movement for tighter gun controls.

Days after the shooting, Trump promised action on gun regulation and at a gathering of state officials, he said of the NRA: "We have to fight them every once in a while."

But since then, no major new federal gun controls have been imposed, although the administration is pursuing a proposed regulatory ban on "bump stocks," which enable a semi-automatic rifle to fire a steady stream of bullets. The devices were used in an October 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas that killed 59 people.

Semi-automatic assault rifles are sold widely in the United States. The NRA has defended America's gun ownership rights for many years, citing the Constitution's Second Amendment.

Democratic lawmakers generally support tighter gun laws, but specific proposals that they favor, such as universal background checks and a ban on military-style "assault" rifles, would not alter the U.S. Constitution's Second Amendment.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason and Daniel Trotta Writing by Andy Sullivan Additional reporting by Chris Kahn Editing by Bill Trott and Alistair Bell)