WASHINGTON, D.C. (CNN) — Amid America’s most energized gun debate in years, the National Rifle Association’s executive vice president and CEO Wayne LaPierre slammed congressional Democrats and the media for its reaction to mass shooting and the calls for gun control.
“What they want is more restrictions on the law-abiding,” LaPierre said on stage at the Conservative Political Action Conference outside Washington. “They want to sweep right under the carpet the failure of school security.”
In the aftermath of a high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 dead, the country has found itself once again balancing the scope of the Second Amendment with its desire to protect kids in schools. LaPierre has been a deeply polarizing figure as an outspoken and consistent advocate for gun rights, who has previously been among the public figures to voice the NRA’s position in the wake of mass shootings.
LaPierre’s speech comes just a day after Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, who has an A+ rating from the NRA, announced he was in favor of raising the age limit from 18 to 21 on individuals purchasing semi-automatic weapons like the AR-15 and Rubio told the audience he was reconsidering his past opposition to limiting the size of large gun magazines.
“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,” Rubio said, making the comments during a CNN town hall in Florida. The NRA was represented at the town hall by the organization’s national spokeswoman, Dana Loesch, who faced sharply critical comments from Parkland shooting survivors and family members of slain gun victims.
On Wednesday, President Donald Trump hosted students and parents at the White House for a raw, televised listening session. By Thursday morning, Trump tweeted he was committed to pushing for comprehensive background checks and limiting the age of those buying assault-style weapons.
“I will be strongly pushing Comprehensive Background Checks with an emphasis on Mental Health. Raise age to 21 and end sale of Bump Stocks! Congress is in a mood to finally do something on this issue – I hope!”
Limiting the size of gun magazines and raising the age limit on buying rifles, including guns like AR-15 style rifles, are both positions that the NRA opposes.
Just minutes before LaPierre was scheduled to speak, Trump tweeted that he defended the NRA.
“What many people don’t understand, or don’t want to understand, is that Wayne, Chris and the folks who work so hard at the @NRA are Great People and Great American Patriots. They love our Country and will do the right thing. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” Trump tweeted.
This story has been updated and will continue to update throughout Thursday with additional developments.
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