By Erik Schelzig
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — National Rifle Association leader Wayne LaPierre renewed his call Thursday for armed guards in schools and urged gun owners to “stand and fight” for the Second Amendment.
In a speech billed as the NRA response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union call for new gun regulations, LaPierre noted in remarks to the National Wild Turkey Federation in Nashville that the speech didn’t mention school security. He dismissed Obama’s calls for background checks for all firearms purchases and bans on assault weapons and ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.
“We will not be duped by the hypocrisy in the White House or the Congress who would deny our right to semi-automatic technology, and the magazines we need to defend ourselves and our families,” he said.
LaPierre said the proponents’ real intentions would be to “ban every gun they can, tax every gun sold and register every gun owner.”
George Thornton, the CEO of the National Wild Turkey Federation, said his group agrees with LaPierre’s positions, even though not all of the gun-control proposals would directly affect hunters.
“You really don’t need large clips for hunting,” he said. “However, I have a very strong belief when you start to limit things, that the limits continue to chip away.”
LaPierre also said a universal background check would not stop criminals or the mentally ill from getting firearms.
“Even when prohibited people are flagged by the system now, they are almost never stopped,” he said.
Mark Kelly, husband of former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head in 2011, said in a statement that background checks are a simple and fair way to keep children safe.
“If a dangerous criminal can’t buy a gun in a store, they shouldn’t be able to buy a gun at a gun show or on the Internet,” he said. “That’s just common sense.”
While LaPierre was critical of the president in the speech, the remarks were milder than sentiments he expressed in an opinion piece published this week by The Daily Caller, a conservative website, in which he predicted the president’s financial policies will lead to chaos.
“Nobody knows if or when the fiscal collapse will come, but if the country is broke, there likely won’t be enough money to pay for police protection. And the American people know it,” LaPierre wrote.
“Hurricanes. Tornadoes. Riots. Terrorists. Gangs. Lone criminals. These are perils we are sure to face — not just maybe,” he said. “It’s not paranoia to buy a gun. It’s survival.”
Don Robinson, a turkey hunter from Dyersburg who attended the speech, said he supported LaPierre’s call for armed school security and agreed that universal background checks wouldn’t catch the target people.
“Mentally ill folks that have no right or reason to have firearms in their hands, we should have a system in place to prohibit that, rather than a law-abiding person having whatever they need to protect themselves and their country,” he said.”
Fellow hunter Steve Gage of LaGrange, Ind., said he’s concerned that politicians “don’t have a full understanding of the weapons that are being discussed,” which he said could lead to unintended consequences for recreational firearms.
“As an example, my shotgun that I carry for turkey hunting would be illegal in New York because it has a pistol-grip stock,” he said. “So the laws they’re talking about passing have an effect on the guns that we’re using.”
Associated Press writer Kristin M. Hall in Nashville contributed this report.