During a rousing speech that led to six standing ovations, Wayne LaPierre -- chief executive officer of the National Rifle Association -- told the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md., on Friday that the “liberal media can keep on hating me, but I'm still standing.”
The speaker then turned his attention to a remark made on March 1 by Vice President Joe Biden that if anyone is in danger, he or she should take “that double barreled shotgun and fire two blasts outside the house.” LaPierre told the Democratic official: “You keep your advice, we'll keep or guns.”
“As you can imagine, I don’t get invited to many parties in this town,” LaPierre began. “But that’s OK. I didn’t come here to be popular, I came here to stand for what I believe is true.”
“The political elites, they may not like it. The liberal media can keep hating on me, but I’m still standing, unapologetic and unflinching in defense of our individual freedom,” he said to thunderous applause.
They can call me crazy or anything else they want, but the NRA’s nearly 5 million members, and Americans 100 million gun owners, will not back down, not ever. I promise you that.
LaPierre then stated that the Second Amendment “is not just words on parchment, not some frivolous suggestion from our Founding Fathers to be interpreted by whim. It lies at the heart of what this country was founded upon.”
He added that the amendment protects individual gun ownership rights and is not a provision that shoul be subject to interpretation.
Instead, “our Founding Fathers knew that without the Second Amendment and that freedom, all of our freedoms could be in jeopardy,” LaPierre said.
“If you aren’t free to protect yourself when government puts its thumb on that freedom, then you aren’t free at all,” he continued. “But they insult, they denigrate, they call us crazy for holding fast to that belief.”
“In their distorted view of the world, they’re smarter than we are,” the NRA spokesman added. “They’re special. They’re more worthy than we are. They know better than we do.”
Referring to another gun-related issue, LaPierre asked the crowd: “What's the point of registering lawful gun owners? So newspapers can print those names … so the list can be hacked by foreign entities like the Chinese?"
The NRA official also criticized the federal government's handling of sequestration.
"Instead of rational belt-tightening ... the first thing the government does is let criminal illegals out of jail," LaPierre stated, referring to the February release of undocumented immigrants facing deportation by the Department of Homeland Security.
"It's as if insanity itself has been sequestered in Washington,” he stated.
On the other hand, LaPierre referred to the NRA’s gun safety programs and argued that gun accidents have been brought to an “all-time low.” He added that the gun rights organization regularly teaches people how to use, store and handle firearms properly.
He then mocked the Department of Homeland Security for suggesting that people use scissors to defend themselves against an active shooter.
“Scissors? That’s their answer?” LaPierre asked. “Let’s get this straight. To protect our children in school, we recommend a trained professional with a gun, they recommend scissors. And they say we’re crazy?”
In addition, the NRA official directly addressed Biden's recent suggestion that a shotgun would make a more effective weapon for personal defense than a military-style rifle like the one used in the Newtown, Conn., massacre. Democrats support an assault weapons ban that would cover those guns.
“If there's ever a problem, just walk out on the balcony here or walk out -- put that double-barreled shotgun and fire two blasts outside the house,” the vice president said. “I promise you, whoever is coming in is not going to” follow through on his or her plans.
"Have they lost their minds over at the White House?" LaPierre asked mockingly. "You keep your advice, we'll keep our guns."
The best approach to deal with gun violence, he explained, is to enforce the federal gun laws already on the books and help the mentally ill get treatment.
“And for God’s sake, leave the rest of us alone,” LaPierre said to loud applause.