The Day After Teens Poured Their Hearts Out, NRA’s LaPierre Deflects, Rages and Filibusters.

The NRA is a key sponsor of the annual conservative conference, CPAC.

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In his first public comments since a gunman killed 17 people last week at a Florida high school, the leader of the National Rifle Association, Wayne LaPierre, went on the offensive Thursday morning, doubling down on the organization’s most strident pro-gun talking points, while heaping criticism on gun reform advocates.

“They want to sweep right under the carpet the failure of school security, the failure of family, the failure of America’s mental health system and even the unbelievable failure of the FBI,” LaPierre, NRA Executive Vice President and CEO, said during his 35-minute long appearance at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, in National Harbor, Md.

The NRA is a key sponsor of the conference, and until now largely quiet about the Parkland, Fl., high school shooting.

“We share a goal of safe schools, safe neighborhoods, and a safe country,” LaPierre added. “As usual the opportunists waited not one second to exploit the tragedy.”

Rather than gun restrictions, he called for armed security at every school in the country—something President Trump echoed in an early morning series of tweets. “We drop our kids of at schools that are so-called ‘gun free zones,’ that are wide open targets for any crazy madman bent on evil,” he said.

He also called out leading Democrats by name, denouncing Senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and others as “European-style socialists”.

If Democrats take over the House or Senate in this year’s midterm elections, or—”God forbid,” he warned—the White House, “the first to go will be the Second Amendment.”

“Their goal is to eliminate the second amendment and our firearms freedoms, so they can eradicate all individual freedoms,” he said.

The NRA’s appearance comes the morning after a tense town hall-style broadcast on CNN in which student survivors of the Parkland massacre issued withering criticism of NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch, and Florida Republican senator, Marco Rubio. 

“Can you tell me right now that you will not accept a single donation from the NRA?” Cameron Kasky, a 17-year-old who survived the Parkland shooting, asked Rubio amid loud cheers. 

“The answer to the question is that people buy into my agenda, and I do support the second amendment,” Rubio said.

Watch LaPierre’s full speech below:

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This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

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