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Gun violence in the US

NRA head lashes gun control ‘elites’ in wake of Florida school massacre: ‘They hate individual freedom’

Wayne LaPierre: ‘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 does care’

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 February, 2018, 1:19am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 June, 2018, 3:28am

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 “socialist” political elites who “hate individual freedom”.

LaPierre used his address to the Conservative Political Action Conference 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 fantasise 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.”

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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.”

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LaPierre also hit out at the “breathless national media” which he said was “eager to smear the NRA in the midst of genuine grief”.

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 CPAC 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.

Trump, who hosted survivors of the Parkland shooting at the White House Wednesday to explore options for reducing gun violence, is the keynote speaker at the event Friday.

Pushing the same agenda on school security as  Trump, LaPierre claimed schools were “wide open targets”.

The NRA chief, warmly welcomed by CPAC’s attendees, said the NRA’s millions of members “were all horrified” by the high school massacre, in which a 19-year-old went on a killing spree with a semi-automatic rifle and which has fuelled urgent calls for a toughening of America’s lax gun laws. 

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But he also advocated for fortifying US schools with armed guards to prevent the future such killings.

“Evil walks among us and God help us if we don’t protect our schools,” he said.

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.

He also tweeted his support for the NRA, posting: “What many people don’t understand, or don’t want to understand, is that Wayne, Chris [Cox] and the folks who work so hard at the @NRA are Great People and Great American Patriots. They love our Country and will do the right thing. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse