NRA leader calls gun ownership ‘fundamental human right’
National Rifle Association (NRA) officials dismissed calls for stricter gun laws on Friday during their annual convention, which is taking place in Houston, a city less than 300 miles from the Texas school shooting that claimed the lives of 19 children and two adults earlier in the week.
NRA head Wayne LaPierre told his group’s members that the Uvalde mass shooting “should never happen again” but rejected gun control proposals, calling gun ownership a “fundamental human right.”
His remarks indicate that Tuesday’s massacre has done nothing to shift the group’s long-standing opposition to any gun restrictions, including expanded background checks and a ban on assault-style weapons.
“Restricting the fundamental human right of law-abiding Americans to defend themselves is not the answer. It never has been,” LaPierre said.
Instead, LaPierre called for additional security at schools, changes to the criminal justice system and new funding to “fix our nation’s broken mental health system” to stop future school shootings.
“We need to protect our schools, because our children deserve at least, and in fact more protection than our banks, stadiums and government buildings … so that every school has a comprehensive security program tailored specifically to that school to meet its security needs,” he said.
Over a pre-recorded video message to NRA members, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) reiterated talking points from NRA officials that new gun laws will not prevent individuals from breaking the law.
“There are thousands of laws on the books across the country that limit the owning or using of firearms, laws that have not stopped madmen from carrying out evil acts on innocent people in peaceful communities,” Abbott said.
Event speakers stressed that they won’t soften their position opposing gun restrictions. Jason Ouimet, executive director of the NRA’s lobbying arm, told supporters that the group will ensure that its pro-gun message remains prominent during the 2022 midterms.
“Now is not the time to quit. Now would be the worst time to quit. Now is when we double down,” South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) told NRA members.
Outside of the NRA event, thousands of protesters rallied against the influential gun group and called on Abbott to step down. The devastating school shooting has sparked a chorus of calls for tougher gun restrictions that the NRA has long lobbied GOP lawmakers to block.
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