- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 14, 2013

National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre accused President Obama Thursday of trying to exploit the recent Connecticut school shootings to advance a decades-old gun-control agenda in his first public response to Mr. Obama’s State of the Union address.

Mr. LaPierre, who has fast emerged as the face of unapologetic gun-rights enthusiasts and the scourge of gun-control advocates in recent months, criticized the president for not once mentioning the phrase “school safety” in Tuesday night’s hourlong presidential address.

“It’s not about keeping kids safe at school — that wasn’t even mentioned in the president’s speech,” Mr. LaPierre said at the 37th annual convention and sport show of the National Wild Turkey Federation in Nashville, Tenn. “They only care about their decades-long, decades-old gun-control agenda — ban every gun they can, tax every gun sold, and register every American gun owner.”

Mr. LaPierre received resounding applause from his audience when he declared gun owners would not shirk from the ongoing skirmish.

“For our Second Amendment freedom, Mr. President, we will stand and fight throughout this country as Americans for our freedom. We promise you that,” he said. “We will stand and fight.”

The idea of a national gun registry has been dismissed by the White House, and President Obama actually addressed the issue of gun control in a Google+ chat taking place at approximately same time.

“I think that people are going to be able to buy all kinds of guns and use them legally for protection, for hunting,” he said. “[There is] a small category of weapons that we think, really, can drastically increase the incidence of gun violence, and we already have some restrictions.”

An op-ed column from Mr. LaPierre posted on the news website The Daily Caller also drew the attention of the White House on Thursday.

“Hurricanes. Tornadoes. Riots. Terrorists. Gangs. Lone criminals,” Mr. LaPierre wrote. “These are perils we are sure to face — not just maybe. It’s not paranoia to buy a gun. It’s survival. It’s responsible behavior, and it’s time we encourage law-abiding Americans to do just that.”

David Plouffe, a former senior White House adviser, encouraged Republicans to take a look at the piece for themselves.

“Hard to believe this is real,” Mr. Plouffe said on Twitter. “Every GOPer should read and decide if this delusional person will call the shots[.]”

Toward the end of his address Tuesday evening, Mr. Obama pressed Congress, saying the victims of recent shooting sprees deserve a vote on the issue.

“Gabby Giffords deserves a vote,” he said, referring to the former Arizona congresswoman wounded by a gunman. “The families of Newtown deserve a vote. The families of Aurora deserve a vote. The families of Oak Creek, and Tucson, and Blacksburg, and the countless other communities ripped open by gun violence — they deserve a simple vote.”

Among the guests seated in the first lady’s box for the speech were the parents of a slain Chicago teen, a teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where 20 students and six educators were slain in December, and a Wisconsin police officer who was wounded in a shooting spree in August at a Sikh temple.