NRA chief: Boston-area residents were vulnerable without guns

HOUSTON Sat May 4, 2013 7:37pm EDT

1 of 3. Wayne LaPierre, Executive Vice President and CEO of the NRA, waves to members after arriving to the National Rifle Association's Annual Meeting of Members in Houston, Texas on May 4, 2013. Organizers expect some 70,000 attendees at the 142nd NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits in Houston, which began on Friday and continues through Sunday.

Credit: Reuters/Adrees Latif

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HOUSTON (Reuters) - Heavy-handed gun laws and a culture disapproving of gun ownership put citizens in a vulnerable position during the door-to-door search for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev last month, NRA Chief Executive Wayne LaPierre said on Saturday.

"How many Bostonians wished they had a gun two weeks ago?" LaPierre asked in a speech at the National Rifle Association's annual convention in Houston.

"Residents were imprisoned behind the locked doors of their own home, a terrorist with bombs and guns just outside," LaPierre said, referring to the police search in the Boston suburb of Watertown.

Reiterating a theme from earlier speakers, he said law-abiding gun owners were under attack through government moves to control gun ownership, despite the need for self-protection.

"Lying in wait right now is a terrorist, a deranged school shooter, a kidnapper, a rapist, a murderer, waiting and planning and plotting in every community across our country, lying in wait right now," LaPierre said.

"No amount of political schemes, congressional legislation, presidential commissions or media round tables will ever change that inevitable reality."

The convention is the first national gathering of members since last year's high-profile shooting sprees at a theater in Aurora, Colorado, and Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

It also comes less than a month after the U.S. Senate voted down a measure to expand background checks for gun buyers, a step favored by U.S. President Barack Obama and most Americans.

An online Reuters/Ipsos poll released in January showed that 86 percent of those surveyed favored expanded background checks of all gun buyers.

A CBS News/New York Times poll released on Wednesday showed that 88 percent support background checks for all gun buyers and that 59 percent are disappointed or angry about the Senate vote.

Several demonstrations in support of stricter gun control took place across the street from the convention center.

MEMBERSHIP JUMPS

Speakers lambasted Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, among others.

LaPierre announced that the NRA had reached 5 million members, increasing by 1 million since December after the Newtown shooting.

NRA First Vice President Jim Porter told members that the background-check proposal would have made criminals out of honest gun owners.

"Selling a gun to a good neighbor, just like you would do today, becomes a felony, and the government takes your guns," he said.

Porter, who is expected to be voted in as the NRA's next president by board members on Monday, highlighted the role of the rank-and-file in the fierce political battle over guns.

"That family, our family encompasses tens of millions of Americans. We are the vanguard of those citizens. The gun lobby - that's you," he said. "With our liberties at stake, we trump the billionaires, the media and the politicians every time."

'THAT'S A BABY'

On Friday and Saturday, a group gathered outside the center to read aloud the names of people who had died from gun violence in the United States since the Sandy Hook massacre in December.

Austin resident Heather Ross said on Saturday morning that she had been there since 7 a.m. on Friday.

"It's really intense to read these names because a few of them on there are zero or 1 years old, and that's hard. That's a baby," Ross said.

"Then when you read one that's your age, or your sibling's age, or you read all the names (of people who died) on your mother's birthday - that's very impactful and you go through it a little bit slower."

A group called Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America gathered signatures and messages on large signs set to be delivered to U.S. Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn of Texas.

They held a photo session on Saturday with some former Harlem Globetrotters and former NBA players and broadcaster Steve "Snapper" Jones to bring attention to children who were shot and killed.

Another group, Texans for Smart Gun Regulation, organized a protest in front of the convention center Saturday afternoon.

Occupy the NRA, organized by Aaron Black, an unofficial spokesman for last year's Occupy Wall Street protesters, held a news conference on Saturday morning to "say yes to guns and no to the NRA."

"I'm tired of watching our democracy being hijacked by these guys," Black said. "It's time for people to stand in front of this issue and not just send email petitions around."

NRA organizers expected 70,000 people at the three-day convention, which ends on Sunday. Saturday's events also included a sold-out "Stand Up and Fight Rally" featuring conservative TV and radio personality Glenn Beck.

(Editing by Corrie MacLaggan and Xavier Briand)

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Comments (63)
flashrooster wrote:
I know those under the gun spell can’t see it, but those of us who aren’t know how absurd it is to equate guns with freedom. I understand the thinking is, but it’s giving far too much credit to a simple inanimate object. What they’re telling the gun zombies smacks of cultism and it’s primary purpose is to maximize the gun industry’s profits. There are plenty of countries that have gun regulations in place and they are as free, if not more free, than Americans. The people in Australia, for example, are free and don’t feel threatened by their government, and they have gun regulations in place.

A nation can’t be free if its people cannot think for themselves free from the influence of propaganda. That’s more important to freedom than guns. The NRA is preaching bad medicine to their compliant masses and it’s dangerous. It could easily pose a threat to our Republic in the not too distant future.

I recently saw a poll showing that 44% of Republicans believe that an armed revolt might soon be necessary to protect our liberties. Talk about a bunch of spoiled, sissy, brats who can’t tell the difference between a threat and the need to accept contrary opinions in a democracy. Those spoiled idiots have had it too good for too long. They don’t know what a threat is. Where’s the threat? You don’t take up arms or threaten to take up arms unless the powers in place are posing a serious threat to your health and wellbeing. That’s not happening here, not at all. Where’s the threat? And you don’t take up arms or threaten to until you’ve tried everything else. I don’t even see these people protesting, yet they’re ready to take up arms against the US government.

The real threat to our democratic Republic is from corporations who bribe our government into ignoring the will of the people so that they can get the legislation they want passed or defeated for their profits. Let’s demand serious campaign finance reform before we start shooting each other.

When a majority of people want background checks for gun purchases, that’s not a threat to anyone’s freedom. That’s democracy in action. When a majority are ignored because a powerful lobbying organization threatens to retaliate against Senators who side with the people, now THAT’S a threat to our freedom.

The hate speech and corporate propaganda the NRA is preaching to their hungry devotees is dangerous. Conservatives are just too susceptible to that kind of emotional saber rattling. You didn’t hear this kind of crap until Obama was elected and Obama has certainly not done anything to warrant wanting an armed insurrection. America’s conservatives are being taught to hate democracy.

May 03, 2013 9:10pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
xyz2055 wrote:
flashrooster said “When a majority of people want background checks for gun purchases, that’s not a threat to anyone’s freedom. That’s democracy in action. When a majority are ignored because a powerful lobbying organization threatens to retaliate against Senators who side with the people, now THAT’S a threat to our freedom.”

While I don’t believe enhanced background checks would have made one iota of difference…flashrooster’s statement is RIGHT ON THE MONEY! When will the fools in this country wake up and start voting these people out of office and KEEP turning it over until we finally have a government that ACTUALLY listens to the people instead of pandering to the 1% that fund their campaigns. In every poll taken across the board regardless of political affiliation the vast majority of American’s (80+%) favored enhanced background checks. The Senate essentially said “F” you to the majority. Keep this in mind the next election cycle and vote with your middle finger held high.

May 03, 2013 9:41pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
yorksoo wrote:
“When a deranged criminal murders innocent children, they blame us.” They wouldn’t blame you if the deranged criminal had been caught by a background check.

May 03, 2013 9:53pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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