Wayne LaPierre, the National Rifle Association’s executive vice president and CEO, blasted President Obama on Tuesday evening, claiming that Mr. Obama made a “mockery” of the Declaration of Independence in his inaugural address on Monday.
Mr. LaPierre, who has vowed to fight Mr. Obama’s attempts to pass new gun controls, honed in on the president’s reference to “absolutism” in his speech.
Tea party activists, and conservatives in general, have accused Mr. Obama of repeatedly violating the Constitution as the founders wrote it. But Mr. Obama, embracing what has become known as the theory of a “living Constitution,” said the document is aspirational.
“We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate,” Mr. Obama said. “We must act, knowing that today’s victories will be only partial and that it will be up to those who stand here in four years and 40 years and 400 years hence to advance the timeless spirit once conferred to us in a spare Philadelphia hall.”
But Mr. LaPierre said Mr. Obama wants to turn absolutism into a “dirty word” and “just another word for extremism.”
“We’re told that wanting the same technology that the criminals and our leaders keep for themselves is a form of ‘absolutism’ and that accepting less freedom and protection for ourselves is the only ‘principled’ way to live,” Mr. LaPierre said. “Think about what that means. Barack Obama is saying that the only ‘principled’ way to make children safe is to make lawful citizens less safe and violent criminals more safe.”
Mr. Obama and many Democrats in Congress have vowed to push forward with new gun-control measures in the wake of the shooting deaths of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Mr. LaPierre and the NRA have called for an increase in armed security guards in schools as part of a solution.
Mr. LaPierre took his argument straight to Mr. Obama, alluding to a comment the president made during the 2008 campaign about citizens in small towns decimated by the recession who “cling to their guns and religion.”
“We are not people to be trivialized, marginalized or demonized as unreasonable,” Mr. LaPierre said. “We’re not children who need to be parented or misguided “bitter clingers” to guns and religion.”
“Mister President, just because you wish words meant something other than what they mean, you don’t have the right to define them any way you want,” he continued. “Words do have meaning, Mister President. And those meanings are absolute, especially when it comes to our Bill of Rights.”
“Mister President, you might think that calling us ‘absolutists’ is a clever way of ‘name-calling’ without using names,” he concluded. “But if that is ‘absolutist,’ then we are as “absolutist” as our Founding Fathers and framers of our United States Constitution — and we are proud of it.”
Mr. LaPierre’s remarks came at the Weatherby Foundation International’s annual dinner in Reno, Nevada.