A resurgent debate on gun control is provoking strong responses from the National Rifle Association, which cautioned voters to be wary of Democrats’ ‘socialist’ agenda.
Wayne LaPierre, the NRA’s outspoken CEO, blasted liberal lawmakers just a week after 14 teenagers and three adults were gunned down in a Florida high school. Trying to whip conservative activists up into a frenzy, the powerful lobbyist warned that Democrats would try exploiting the tragedy to deprive Americans of their Second Amendment rights.
“Socialism is a movement that loves a smear,” LaPierre said.
CNN reports the remarks were made at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference outside Washington. LaPierre accused liberals of setting the country up for a bleak future — one wherein gun control would be the first step on the path toward transformation.
“What they want is more restrictions on the law-abiding,” he said. “They want to sweep right under the carpet the failure of school security.”
LaPierre warned the audience of the supposedly grave consequences of Democrats taking power in the midterms, saying “you should be anxious and you should be frightened” at the prospect.
“If they seize power […] our American freedoms could be lost and our country will be changed forever,” said LaPierre. “The first to go will be the Second Amendment.”
LaPierre’s bizarre and fear-mongering remarks seemed at odds with statements being put forward by some other influential Republicans.
“We share a goal of safe schools, safe neighborhoods and a safe country,” he said.
Looking out over the audience, LaPierre told members in attendance that “evil walks among us.”
….History shows that a school shooting lasts, on average, 3 minutes. It takes police & first responders approximately 5 to 8 minutes to get to site of crime. Highly trained, gun adept, teachers/coaches would solve the problem instantly, before police arrive. GREAT DETERRENT!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 22, 2018
For the first time in a long time, LaPierre’s remarks may ruffle feathers among Republicans. Relatively few conservative legislators have taken a firm stance in favor of gun control – but several have voiced their support for measures certain to ruffle the NRA’s feathers.
While President Donald Trump seemed willing to back some firearms access legislation opposed by the NRA, he also informally proposed arming primary and secondary school teachers.
Trump may be sending mixed messages, but a town hall-style event by Sen. Marco Rubio on Wednesday indicates some Republicans may finally be rethinking their message.
“I absolutely believe that in this country if you are 18 years of age, you should not be able to buy a rifle, and I will support a law that takes that right away,” said Rubio, who holds an ‘A+’ rating from the NRA.
In attendance and invited to speak at the town hall were several students who’d seen carnage at Parkland and have since been pushing lawmakers to crack down on firearms violence. Rubio was repeatedly booed by the crowd for refusing to offer any semblance of support for limitations on the sale of semiautomatic firearms. He also turned down an offer to keep NRA donations out of his next campaign.
Nevertheless, Rubio found some praise from the left-leaning media – while his stances may prove increasingly unpopular with young liberals, he, at the very least, has had the courage to stand in the public spotlight, in front of a hostile audience, taking questions from individuals afflicted by firearms violence.
Around the same time, President Trump was busy on Twitter, calling the NRA “patriots” and wondering whether American schools needed armed security forces.