“They have great power over you people,” Mr. Trump told a group of lawmakers who gathered at the White House last February. “They have less power over me.”
Days later, the president retreated from those comments shortly after a private meeting with N.R.A. leaders. He has since pushed for a ban on bump stocks — a modest move considered to be no great loss by the N.R.A. — and suggested that the arming of teachers could make schools safer. The Trump administration has largely decided to blame gun violence on access to mental health care over curbing access to guns, and the president has frequently targeted Democrats as the party most willing to rescind Second Amendment rights.
In his speech to the N.R.A. convention last year, the president declared that the Second Amendment would not be “under siege” as long as he is in office. “I think we’ll hear him talk about the importance of that right and that empowerment” of the Second Amendment, Ms. Baker predicted about this year’s speech.
Gun control advocates question how far the president’s message will go.
“At the end of the day, what’s clear is that the N.R.A. certainly isn’t thriving in the Trump years,” Igor Volsky, the executive director of Guns Down America, said in an interview. “What I think has become pretty clear is that the organization now has to talk to a smaller and smaller and smaller proportion of Americans.”
According to a recent Reuters poll, there is some truth to that logic. The majority of Americans support tougher gun control laws, even if they have little faith that lawmakers will be able to pass them. And gun rights advocates say Mr. Trump has delivered in an area where many of them say it matters most: reordering the judiciary by appointing two Supreme Court justices, in addition to over 90 judges in lower courts.
In its next term, in October, the Supreme Court will take up its first Second Amendment case in nearly a decade when it reviews a New York City gun law that limits residents from transporting their guns outside their homes. It will be the first test of a court that has been reoriented with the Trump-era appointments of Justices Brett M. Kavanaugh and Neil M. Gorsuch.
“There was one moment when it looked like maybe the N.R.A. had bet on the wrong horse” when the president began suggesting minor gun control measures, Mr. Winkler said. Under Mr. Trump, the group has not gotten its complete wish list accomplished, including congressional passage of a national reciprocity law — the right for concealed-carry permit holders from one state to legally carry their guns in any other state.