NRA comes out with guns blazing as convention opens

LaPierre slams media, ‘elites’ for demonizing group

  • NRA attendee, John Joseph of Sebastian, Fla., waits in line outside the George R. Brown Convention Center before the opening of the National Rifle Association's 142 Annual Meetings and Exhibits at the George R. Brown Convention Center Thursday, May 2, 2013, in Houston. The 2013 NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits runs from Friday, May 3, through Sunday, May 5.  More than 70,000 are expected to attend the event with more than 500 exhibitors represented. The convention will features training and education demos, the Antiques Guns and Gold Showcase, book signings, speakers including Glenn Beck, Ted Nugent and Sarah Palin as well as NRA Youth Day on Sunday. (AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Johnny Hanson)NRA attendee, John Joseph of Sebastian, Fla., waits in line outside the George R. Brown Convention Center before the opening of the National Rifle Association's 142 Annual Meetings and Exhibits at the George R. Brown Convention Center Thursday, May 2, 2013, in Houston. The 2013 NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits runs from Friday, May 3, through Sunday, May 5. More than 70,000 are expected to attend the event with more than 500 exhibitors represented. The convention will features training and education demos, the Antiques Guns and Gold Showcase, book signings, speakers including Glenn Beck, Ted Nugent and Sarah Palin as well as NRA Youth Day on Sunday. (AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Johnny Hanson)
  • NRA attendee Janet Bero waits to have her German Luger appraised during the NRA's Antiques Guns and Gold Showcase during the National Rifle Association's 142 Annual Meetings and Exhibits at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston on May 2, 2013. (Associated Press/Houston Chronicle)NRA attendee Janet Bero waits to have her German Luger appraised during the NRA's Antiques Guns and Gold Showcase during the National Rifle Association's 142 Annual Meetings and Exhibits at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston on May 2, 2013. (Associated Press/Houston Chronicle)
  • Exhibitors began setting up in preparation The National Rifle Association Annual Meetings on Wednesday, May 1, 2013, in Houston.  The 2013 NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits is scheduled to being Friday. (AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Johnny Hanson)Exhibitors began setting up in preparation The National Rifle Association Annual Meetings on Wednesday, May 1, 2013, in Houston. The 2013 NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits is scheduled to being Friday. (AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Johnny Hanson)
  • Barry Bailey and his wife, Judy, of DeRidder, La., leave after having their 1873 Winchester rifle appraised at the National Rifle Association's Antiques Guns and Gold Showcase on May 2, 2013, during the NRA's 142 Annual Meetings and Exhibits at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston. (Associated Press/Houston Chronicle)Barry Bailey and his wife, Judy, of DeRidder, La., leave after having their 1873 Winchester rifle appraised at the National Rifle Association's Antiques Guns and Gold Showcase on May 2, 2013, during the NRA's 142 Annual Meetings and Exhibits at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston. (Associated Press/Houston Chronicle)
  • The National Rifle Association's 142 Annual Meetings and Exhibits logo is placed on the George R. Brown Convention Center by Lynn Creel, left, and Don Reynolds of Display Graphics Wednesday, May 1, 2013, in Houston.   The nation’s chief gun rights lobby is gathering in Houston this  weekend for its annual convention    (AP Photo/Houston Chronicle,Johnny Hanson )The National Rifle Association's 142 Annual Meetings and Exhibits logo is placed on the George R. Brown Convention Center by Lynn Creel, left, and Don Reynolds of Display Graphics Wednesday, May 1, 2013, in Houston. The nation’s chief gun rights lobby is gathering in Houston this weekend for its annual convention (AP Photo/Houston Chronicle,Johnny Hanson )
  • Barry Bailey, of DeRidder, La., gives his wife Judy a kiss, before having their 1873 Winchester rifle appraised at the National Rifle Association's Antiques Guns and Gold Showcase on May 2, 2013, during the NRA's 142 Annual Meetings and Exhibits at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston. (Associated Press/Houston Chronicle)Barry Bailey, of DeRidder, La., gives his wife Judy a kiss, before having their 1873 Winchester rifle appraised at the National Rifle Association's Antiques Guns and Gold Showcase on May 2, 2013, during the NRA's 142 Annual Meetings and Exhibits at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston. (Associated Press/Houston Chronicle)
  • NRA attendees make their way into the George R. Brown Convention Center before the opening of the National Rifle Association's 142 Annual Meetings and Exhibits at the George R. Brown Convention Center Thursday, May 2, 2013, in Houston. The 2013 NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits runs from Friday, May 3, through Sunday, May 5. More than 70,000 are expected to attend the event with more than 500 exhibitors represented. The convention will features training and education demos, the Antiques Guns and Gold Showcase, book signings, speakers including Glenn Beck, Ted Nugent and Sarah Palin as well as NRA Youth Day on Sunday. (AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Johnny Hanson)NRA attendees make their way into the George R. Brown Convention Center before the opening of the National Rifle Association's 142 Annual Meetings and Exhibits at the George R. Brown Convention Center Thursday, May 2, 2013, in Houston. The 2013 NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits runs from Friday, May 3, through Sunday, May 5. More than 70,000 are expected to attend the event with more than 500 exhibitors represented. The convention will features training and education demos, the Antiques Guns and Gold Showcase, book signings, speakers including Glenn Beck, Ted Nugent and Sarah Palin as well as NRA Youth Day on Sunday. (AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Johnny Hanson)
  • Johnny Bass sets up the Henry Repeating Arms Company booth as exhibitors prepares for National Rifle Association Meetings and Exhibits at the George R. Brown Convention Center on Wednesday, May 1, 2013, in Houston.  The 2013 NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits is scheduled to being Friday. (AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Johnny Hanson)Johnny Bass sets up the Henry Repeating Arms Company booth as exhibitors prepares for National Rifle Association Meetings and Exhibits at the George R. Brown Convention Center on Wednesday, May 1, 2013, in Houston. The 2013 NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits is scheduled to being Friday. (AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Johnny Hanson)
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National Rifle Association Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre lashed out at members of the media and “political elites” during a Friday speech at the group’s national convention in Houston, Texas Gov. Rick Perry showed off his marksmanship, and Sen. Ted Cruz challenged Vice President Joseph R. Biden to a debate about gun control.

“They think they know better than we do,” Mr. LaPierre told delegates Friday afternoon. “They think they’re smarter than we are.”


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More than 70,000 people are expected to attend the three-day convention in Houston, which includes a Saturday evening “Stand and Fight” rally.

“They’ve called gun owners just about every rotten, lousy, nasty, evil name in the book in a judgmental tone that quite honestly most Americans resent,” Mr. LaPierre said. “We know how they play the game. President Obama or [New York Mayor] Michael Bloomberg or some other official trots out on national television to scold and shame us.”

Mr. LaPierre called on various groups, one by one, in the audience, such as health care workers, students, teachers, retailers, firefighters, stay-at-home moms, members of the military and veterans to stand up.

He then invited the media to look around the room and “see if you can tell it straight.”

“The media and the political elites can lie about us and demonize us all they want, but that won’t stop us,” he said. “We are Americans, we are proud of it, and we are going to defend our freedom, we promise you.”

Texas Gov. Rick Perry raised some eyebrows with an introductory video that had the one-time presidential candidate blowing away targets with an AR-15.

Mr. Cruz, Texas Republican, later brought the house down, particularly when he issued an “invitation” to Mr. Biden, who has become the point man for Mr. Obama’s efforts on gun control and crime.

“I would like to invite the vice president to an hour-long conversation and debate [on] how do we stop crime?’” he said. “And if Vice President Biden really believes the facts are on his side, that this is not simply an exercise in political power by the administration, then I would think he would welcome the opportunity to talk about the sources, the causes of violent crime, who’s carrying it out and how we can do everything humanly possible to stop it.”

Earlier Friday, NRA First Vice President James Porter, who takes over the group’s top slot from David Keene on Monday, gave a short speech to a grassroots organizing meeting.

“This is not a battle about gun rights,” Mr. Porter said, calling it “a culture war.”

“[You] here in this room are the fighters for freedom. We are the protectors,” said Mr. Porter, whose father was NRA president from 1959-1960, according to the organization’s website.

The group is fresh off a big win over Mr. Obama on gun control, helping torpedo a Senate measure to expand gun-purchase background checks that was introduced after December’s mass shooting at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school.

Mr. Obama and other advocates have vowed to continue their push for gun control despite the setback.

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