Wayne LaPierre, the head of the NRA, broke his silence a week after the Florida school shooting with an unrepentant defence of gun rights and an aggressive attack on political elites who “hate individual freedom”.
LaPierre used his address to the conservative conference CPAC to hit out at anti-gun campaigners, who, led by young survivors of the shooting, have attempted to make political headway in the last week.
“They fantasize about more laws stopping what other laws have failed to stop,” the National Rifle Association executive vice-president said. “So many existing laws were ignored.”
He added: “They don’t care if their laws work or not. They just want to get more laws to get more control over people. But the NRA, the NRA does care.”
LaPierre also hit out at the “breathless national media” which he said was “eager to smear the NRA in the midst of genuine grief”.
Outspoken Survivor Emma González, [shaven head], and other students of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting at a CNN town hall meeting on Feb 21 night
Elites want to “eliminate our firearms freedoms and eradicate all the individual freedoms”, he said. “They hate the NRA, they hate the second amendment, they hate individual freedom.”
It had been unclear whether LaPierre would appear at the conservative conference outside Washington and his name was initially kept off the agenda to protect him from media scrutiny. The NRA often prefers to stay out of the media spotlight in the wake of a major shooting.
Pushing the same agenda on school security as Donald Trump, he claimed schools were “wide open targets”.
“Evil walks among us and God help us if we don’t protect our schools,” he said.
The president had proposed a day earlier that the panacea against school shootings was by arming teachers or putting more armed security in classrooms.
Donald Trump’s at a White House meeting with Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school shooting survivors on Wednesday, proposal the arming teachers and putting more armed security in classrooms, to prevent school shootings
This proved to be a kryptonite for the senator representing the students’ home state, Marco Rubio. Confronted by a furious crowd of Florida students demanding a renewed ban on assault weapons, Republican senator Marco Rubio offered one concession after another. Rubio was forced to disavow Donald Trump’s proposal to prevent school shootings.
He said he supported legislation to raise the legal age to purchase a rifle to 21 from 18. He said he supported a law to create gun violence restraining orders, which would give family members and law enforcement a way to petition a court to take away a dangerous person’s guns. He said he opposed Donald Trump’s proposal to prevent school shootings by arming teachers or putting more armed security in classrooms.
Trump addressing the survivors, told the students on Wednesday: “An attack has lasted, on average, about three minutes. It takes five to eight minutes for responders, for the police to come in, so the attack is over. If you had a teacher who was adept at firearms, they could very well end the attack very quickly.”
Meanwhile Trump doubled down on his proposal to address school shootings by giving some teachers guns on Thursday, tweeting that it would be a “great deterrent” to killers.
On Thursday, Trump began his tweeter rant, by denying he had ever proposed giving teachers guns, but then went on to expand on the proposal.
“I never said ‘give teachers guns’ like was stated on Fake News @CNN & @nbc,” he said. “What I said was to look at the possibility of giving ‘concealed guns to gun adept teachers with military or special training experience – only the best.
Cameron Kasky, Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school shooting survivor demands Senator Marco Rubio reject NRA money – Kasky, 17, survived the shooting by huddling with his brother in a classroom.
At a forum hosted by CNN on Wednesday night, Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school shooting survivors grilled Senator Marco Rubio [R-Fla], on his continued romance with the NRA, while urging him to reject further financial contributions from the association.
Cameron Kasky, one of the Stoneman Douglas organizers of the planned student march on Washington, asked Rubio the most pointed question.
“Can you tell me right now you will not accept a single donation from the NRA?”
Rubio, whose last campaign was financed by the NRA to the tune of more than $1m, refused to make that promise, arguing that his belief in the second amendment was shaped by long principle, and that “people buy into my agenda, I don’t buy into theirs”.
In their questions to Rubio and other lawmakers, the students and parents of Marjory Stoneman Douglas were disciplined and unrelenting, and the crowd around them was deeply involved.
Teenagers who have become nationally recognized political activists in the past week held their own against career politicians and an NRA spokeswoman who had honed their talking points over years.
Student’s at the CNN forum shot down NRA’s spokesperson, Dana Loesch [photo],as she defended the association’s unyielding stance on gun control
NRA’s Dana Loesch [right] addresses questions raised by students at the forum
‘Don’t patronize me’: Emma Gonzalez [photo], told Dana Loesch, ‘even if you’re not willing to take action to protect your own children, I am’
The NRA’s spokeswoman Dana Loesch tried to praise Emma González, the Stoneman Douglas student whose passionate speech decrying the political influence of the NRA had gone viral. Loesch said no one should attack her for her activism.
Gonzalez told Loesch that even if she was not willing to take action to protect her own children, the Stoneman Douglas students were.
Loesch is a longtime conservative talk radio host, Loesch sparked outrage in 2017 after the NRA aired a recruitment ad in which she railed against the left for using “their media to assassinate real news” and said NRA members needed to confront “this violence of lies with the clenched fist of truth”.
In response to a direct inquiry by Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter Jaime was killed in the shooting, Sen Rubio said that he did not support an assault weapon ban. He told Guttenberg: “If I believe that law would have prevented this from happening I would support it. But I want to explain to you why it would not.”
Over boos from the crowd, Rubio made the common Republican argument about a renewed assault weapon ban: that it targets a small set of 220 semi-automatic rifles with certain cosmetic military-style features, but left thousands of other guns that function in the exact same way un-banned.
“Are you saying you will start with the 200 and work your way up?” Guttenberg inquired.
“Senator Rubio, my daughter running down the hallway at Marjory Stoneman Douglas was shot in the back. With an assault weapon, the weapon of choice. It is too easy to get. It is too easy to get. It is a weapon of war. The fact that you can’t stand with everybody in this building and say that – I’m sorry.”
Rubio admitted: “I did not grow up in a school or an era in which children were shot in classrooms.”
He had no response when several students asked how politicians could ensure that it was actually safe for them to return to school.