National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre condemned President Barack Obama’s call for additional gun safety laws during his second inaugural address Tuesday, warning the president’s agenda threatened to make a “mockery” of the country’s constitutional freedoms by trampling on the Second Amendment.
“In his second inaugural address, President Barack Obama quoted the Declaration of Independence and he talked about 'unalienable rights,'”LaPierre said during a speech in Reno, Nev., billed as the gun rights’ organization “major response” to the president’s address.
LaPierre was particularly critical of one section of Obama’s address, where the president said, “We cannot mistake absolutism for principle or substitute spectacle for politics or treat name-calling as reasoned debate.”
“Obama wants to turn the idea of ‘absolutism’ into a dirty word, just another word for ‘extremism,’” LaPierre said. “He wants you to accept the idea of ‘principles’ as he sees fit to define them. It's a way of redefining words so that common sense is turned upside down and nobody knows the difference.”
According to LaPierre and the NRA, Obama was attacking fervent supporters of the Second Amendment, who often believe it provides Americans with an absolute and unrestricted right to own firearms.
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"When absolutes are abandoned for principles, the U.S. Constitution becomes a blank slate for anyone's graffiti," LaPierre said.
LaPierre remarks occurred the same day that yet another school shooting captured headlines. Although there were no fatalities, three people were wounded on a Texas college campus.
They also followed a widely criticized video released by the NRA this week that accuses Obama of being an “elite hypocrite” for permitting his daughters to have Secret Service protection, while opposing an NRA plan to place armed guards in every American school.
The NRA proposed the plan in the aftermath of the December massacre at Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary School. In a news conference held after the event, which killed 21 children, La Pierre insisted that more guns, not fewer, will strengthen public safety.
The president has signed 23 executive orders and proposed a number of legislative measures intended to combat gun violence in the aftermath of the Connecticut shootings. Almost all of those proposals, which include pushes for universal background checks, a ban on the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition, have been fiercely opposed by the NRA and many congressional Republicans.
“We're told that to stop insane killers, we must accept less freedom -- less than the criminal class and political class keep for themselves,” LaPierre said, arguing that gun control restrictions ultimately make it harder for people to protect themselves. “Obama is saying that the only ‘principled’ way to make children safe is to make lawful citizens less safe and violent criminals more safe.”
Polls show there is growing support for gun regulation measures, including those proposed by the Obama administration. The White House is reportedly working to pressure Congress into action while public opinion is still on its side.