NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — In his first public remarks since last week’s deadly shooting at a high school in Florida, Wayne LaPierre, leader of the National Rifle Association, told a conservative convention on Thursday that gun control advocates care more about destroying liberty than protecting kids.
“Opportunists wasted not one second to exploit tragedy for political gain,” Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the nation’s most prominent gun-rights lobbying organization, said at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
Name-checking Democratic lawmakers like Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, a leading advocate for gun control measures, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, along with the “national media,” LaPierre condemned those “eager to smear” the NRA.
“For them, it’s not a safety issue,” he said. “It’s a political issue.”
LaPierre said the NRA’s critics are interested only in eliminating liberty for Americans.
“They hate the NRA. They hate the Second Amendment. They hate individual freedom,” he said.
They want to get rid of guns, he added, “so they can eradicate all individual freedoms.”
His remarks came the day after President Donald Trump and his aides outlined his plans to combat mass shootings: Tighten the national background-check system, raise the age for purchasing a semi-automatic weapon to 21, and allow some teachers and school officials to carry firearms on campuses.
LaPierre said the way to protect schoolchildren is more “effective, trained, armed security.”
Shortly before he took the stage, Trump praised him and the staff of the NRA as “Great People and Great American Patriots” on Twitter.
NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch, a favorite of Tea Party activists, spoke before LaPierre and said major media organizations cover mass shootings based on race and ratings.
“Many in legacy media love mass shootings,” Loesch said. “You love the ratings. Crying white mothers are ratings gold.”
She went on to say that the media ignore the shooting deaths of people of color in Chicago.
FEB 22 2018, 10:43 AM ET