National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre on Friday said his organisation would not support any new gun control or safety laws proposed by the Biden administration just days after a gunman murdered 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
Mr LaPierre, who has served as the NRA’s chief executive since 1991, described the horror that unfolded less than 300 miles from where he stood as “evil” and acknowledged the “gut wrenching, unimaginable pain” caused by the Uvalde shooting, and said “every decent American” is “mourning … the 21 beautiful lives” snuffed out by the shooting, which was perpetrated by an 18-year-old using an AR-15-style rifle he’d bought on his birthday several weeks prior.
Speaking at the outset of the group’s annual meeting in Houston, Texas, Mr LaPierre said such a massacre should “never happen again” but dismissed out of hand the idea that any new legislation could prevent mass shootings such as the one that took place in Uvalde.
“If we as a nation are capable of legislating evil out of the hearts and minds of criminals who commit these heinous acts, we would have done it a long time ago,” he said, adding that he does not agree with President Joe Biden “on the policy question and on what we can and should do to prevent the hate filled vile monsters who walk among us from committing their evil”.
“Restricting the fundamental human rights of law-abiding Americans to defend themselves is not the answer. It never has been,” he said.
Instead, Mr LaPierre suggested “certain common-sense things” that the government “can and must do” to stop future massacres.
“We need to protect our schools, because our children deserve at least and in fact more protection than our banks, stadiums and government buildings. They are our most treasured and precious resource, and they deserve safety and protection,” he said.
He also called for the government to “fully fund and fix” what he described as “our nation’s broken mental health system” and to “put an end” to a “revolving-door justice system”.
All three suggestions — and the explicit comparison between the security installed at banks and children’s school buildings — were lifted from remarks Mr LaPierre delivered nearly a decade ago, at a press conference held one week after another gunman murdered 27 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
At the time, Mr LaPierre said “the most important, pressing and immediate question” facing the US was how to protect the nation’s children “in a way that we know works”.
“How have our nation’s priorities gotten so far out of order? Think about it — we care about our money, so we protect our banks with armed guards. American airports, office buildings, power plants, court houses, even sports stadiums are all protected by armed security,” he said.
And just as he did in Houston on Friday, Mr LaPierre argued that America “is populated by an unknown number of genuine monsters” and called for tracking people with mental illness.
He asked: “How many more copycats are waiting in the wings for their moment of fame from a national media machine that rewards them with wall-to-wall attention and a sense of identity that they crave, while provoking others to try to make their mark?”
“How can we possibly even guess how many, given our nation’s refusal to create an active national database of the mentally ill? he said.
He also claimed a “declined willingness to prosecute dangerous criminals” was behind increases in violent crime.
Mr LaPierre’s December 2012 press conference was also when he first began reciting the line which argues that a “good guy with a gun” is the only way to stop “a bad guy with a gun”.
But in his remarks in Houston, he did not address the scores of police officers who stood outside the classrooms where children were being murdered for fear of becoming the target of the now-deceased shooter’s AR-15.
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