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NRA CEO Speaks at Conservative Forum after School Massacre; NRA Chief: Schools are "Wide-Open" Target. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired February 22, 2018 - 10:00   ET



REBECCA BERG, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: -- where Wayne LaPierre has stood on this stage and spoke as a featured speaker for the past decade. It's a very friendly gun rights, pro Second Amendment crowd. We just heard from the spokesperson for the NRA, Dana Loesch and she gave a preview of what we can expect from Wayne LaPierre. She said the problem here is not of the laws, but of enforcement, that enforcement measures are the key to stopping these shootings from happening again in the future. And so, I believe we are going to hear from Wayne LaPierre right now.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Rebecca Berg, inside the hall for us right now, let's watch as Wayne LaPierre, walking on to the stage, long time executive director of the NRA. Let's listen to what he has to say.

WAYNE LAPIERRE, NRA CEO AND EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. I appreciate this opportunity. We have serious discussions ahead and serious issues that impact each and every one of us.

Just a week ago, we were all horrified by another terrible tragedy at an American school. Each and every member of the National Rifle Association mourns the loss of the innocent and continues to keep their families and that community in our prayers. We share a goal of safe schools, safe neighborhoods, and a safe country. As usual, the opportunists wasted not one second to exploit tragedy for political gain. Saul Alinski would have been proud. The break back speed of calls for more gun control laws and the breathless national media eager to smear the NRA.

Think about that, in the midst of genuine grief, and a very understandable passion, as millions of Americans searched for meaningful solutions, what do we find? Chris Murphy, Nancy Pelosi, and more, cheered on by the national media, eager to blame the NRA and call for even more government control. They hate the NRA. They hate the Second Amendment. They hate individual freedom.

In the rush of calls for more government, they also revealed their true selves. The elites don't care, not one wit about America's school system. And schoolchildren. If they truly cared, what they would do is they would protect them. For them, it is not a safety issue. It is a political issue. They care more about control and more of it. Their goal is to eliminate the Second Amendment and our firearms freedoms, so they can eradicate all individual freedoms.


What they want are more restrictions on the law abiding. Think about that, their solution is to make you, all of you less free. 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.


They fantasize about more laws, stopping what other laws failed to stop. The truth is, laws succeed only when people obey them. That's what the law-abiding majority in this country practices. But once again, so many existing laws were ignored. Their laws don't stop illegal criminals from crossing our borders every single day. Their laws don't stop the scourge of gang violence and drug crime that savages Baltimore, Chicago, and every major American community. Their laws haven't stopped the plague of opioids, and Chinese fentanyl from Mexico, that floods American streets and kills victims every single day in this country. No wonder law-abiding Americans, all over this country, revere their Second Amendment freedom to protect themselves more than ever.

[10:05:00] They don't care if their laws work or not. They just want to get more laws, to get more control over people. But the NRA, the NRA does care. We -


We at the NRA are Americans who continue to mourn and care and work every day at contributing real solutions to this very real problem. Real practical action, to truly protect our children. Think about it. It is a bizarre fact that in this country our jewelry stores, all over this country, are more important than our children. Our banks, our airports, our NBA games, our NFL games, our office buildings, our movie stars, our politicians, they're all more protected than our children at school. Does that make any sense to anybody? Do we really love our money and our celebrities more than we love our children? Can we answer that question honestly? Any of us. Can we answer that question honestly? Knowing that we surround and protect so much with armed security while we drop our kids off at school that are so-called gun free zones, that are wide open targets for any crazy mad man bent on evil to come there first.

In every community in America, school districts, PTAs, teachers' unions, local law enforcement, moms and dads, they all must come together to implement the very best strategy to harden their schools, including effective trained armed security that will absolutely protect every innocent child in this country.


And that has to happen now. Evil walks among us. And God help us if we don't harden our schools and protect our kids. The whole idea from some of our opponents that armed security makes us less safe is completely ridiculous. If that's true, and just think about this, if that's true, armed security makes us less safe, let's just go ahead and remove it from everywhere. Let's remove it from the White House, from Capitol Hill, and remove it from all of Hollywood.


Any American school that needs immediate professional consultation and help with organizing and defining these solutions should call the National Rifle Association school shield program. And we will provide immediate assistance and we will also provide it absolutely free to any school in America.


I'll tell you this, that's more than anybody at the Democratic National Committee or NBC News or the "Washington Post" is offering. The -


But you know what, the shameful politization of tragedy, it is a classic strategy, right out of the playbook of a poisonous movement. In my three decades of leading the NRA, I've had the pleasure of working with a number of Democrats who believe America to be the greatest country in the world, because of our free market capitalism, and because of our individual liberties. But during the last decade, the Obama decade, many of those leaders have been forced out as a tidal wave of new European style socialists seize control of the Democratic Party.


[10:10:00] Obama promised a fundamental transformation of our country. And you know what, it began with his own national party. A party that is now infested with saboteurs who don't believe in capitalism, don't believe in the Constitution, don't believe in our freedom, and don't believe in America as we know it. Obama may be gone, but their utopian dream, it marches on.

And President Trump's election, while crucial, can't turn away the wave of these new European style socialists bearing down upon us. I'm not just talking about Bernie Sanders. I mean, he's near the end of his career. But how about Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Bill de Blasio, Andrew Como, Cory Booker, Christopher Murphy and Keith Ellison? They are not Democrats in the mold of John F. Kennedy or Tip O'Neill. They hide behind labels like Democrat, left wing and progressive to make their socialist agenda more palatable. And that is terrifying.


That should terrify every citizen who values the American ideal in this country of individual liberty. They politicize the Department of Justice. They weaponize the internal revenue service. The EPA. Perhaps cripple the FBI. And the Intelligence Community. And seized an embedded leadership in all of them to advance their agenda. Absolute control in every corner of our government is their ultimate dream. These intellectual leads, they think they're smarter than we are. They think they're smarter than the rest of us. And they think they're better than we are. They truly believe it, and you know it.

The privileged and the powerful, they think they deserve to be in charge of every lever of power. But you know what, the United States Constitution makes it absolutely clear that they are not in charge. We, the people, are in charge of this country.


But Washington, oh, my gosh, this city, he likes to ignore that. Our Intelligence Community shrouds everything in secrecy, driving into darkness every dirty memo and every dirty institutional secret and memory in the name of national security. But when the leaks come, as so often occurs, in the light of day, it reveals nothing about the security of our country and it reveals everything about the corruption of those in power.


That's because in a captive society the loss of transparency results in the loss of truth. They also eliminated turnover assistance of wrongdoing in these great institutions. There is no stronger supporter of our law enforcement than the National Rifle Association. My gosh, we're one of the largest law enforcement organizations in the United States if you look at our membership.


And we're proud of that. Everywhere I go I get a police officer coming up to me, thanking me and saying I'm a member of your organization, keep up what you're doing. And there are tens of thousands of incredible men and women at the FBI. These are honorable, decent, hardworking people, and they're dedicated to keeping our country safe every single day.


And we're proud of them and we thank them. But as we have learned in recent months, even the FBI is not free of its own corruption. And its own unethical agents. Look, and I know you probably all share this sentiment and I get people telling me from coast to coast, and they shake their heads when they say it to me.

[10:15:00] I can understand a few bad apples in their organization as large as the FBI, but what is hard to understand is why no one at the FBI stood up and called BS on its rogue leadership.


I mean, really, where was the systemic resistance and repulsion that should protect every powerful institution that serves us. The lowest ranking marine knows to resist an unlawful order. The rank and file in every powerful institution must police its own leadership. But still, too much of today's Washington, no one speaks out. No one challenges authority. Everyone keeps their mouth closed and their heads down and that's exactly how socialist societies function. When leaders do whatever they want, when resistance and repercussion disappears, and when the fundamental concept of moral behavior is expunged, the state rules the day. And anyone who attempts to resist is smeared right into submission.


You know it. Yes, the art of the smear. We do live in the socialistic age of the art of the smear. Doesn't have to be true. It just has to stick somewhere. Anywhere. It is designed to degrade, destroy, and it is all over the national media to serve their agenda. And socialism is a movement that loves a smear. Racist, misogynist, sexist, xenophobe and more. These are the weapons and vitriol these character assassinations scream to permanently hang on their targets and create a growing segment of victims. Because socialism feeds off manipulated victims. You name the group, and they will find a way to turn them into victims.

They keep their movement growing by finding someone to be offended by something every minute of every day. From the Occupy movement, to Black Lives Matter, to Antifa, they agitate the offended, promote uncivil discourse and ignore any sense of due process and fairness to destroy their enemies. The illumination of due process is the very gold standard of the socialist state.

Imagine this, and this happened, and it is true, imagine telling an elderly couple that because they sought help to do their taxes, that they could no longer exercise their fundamental Second Amendment right. That's exactly what Obama did. His administration proposed that some social security recipient who granted financial authority to a family member, friend or financial professional was banned from purchasing a firearm. No questions asked. Just like that.

Good, law abiding people were automatically and unjustly declared mentally incompetent and put on a new government list. And, oh how socialists love to make lists, especially lists that can be used to deny citizens their basic freedoms. And now some people are calling for a new list, of anyone, anyone who sought mental health care to deny them their Second Amendment rights.

Look, and this is really important, and you never hear this on the national media, so I want to say it to all of you now and I need your help in telling all the Americans, this is the truth. The National Rifle Association originated the national instant check system, it was our bill. No one on the prohibited persons list should ever have access to a firearm. No killer, no felon, no drug dealer.


And anyone that is adjudicated is mentally incompetent or danger to society should be added to the check system and prevented from getting their hands on a gun.

[10:20:07] But watch what I release three years ago. And the media machine all over the country, they so callously and completely ignored it. Watch this. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LAPIERRE: Here's what the media won't tell you. The NRA has fought for 20 years to put the records of those adjudicated, mentally incompetent into the national instant check system. And until the politicians demand that they are submitted, killers who are legally prohibited from owning firearms will walk into gun stores and pass every background check they take. So if they really wanted to make a difference, the media would lead every newscast with a reminder, that the names of millions of violent felons, criminal gang bangers, and adjudicated mentally incompetent and dangerous people are missing from the background check system. But no one gets ratings by telling the truth about how to stop mass killers.

So they don't report that 38 states submit less than 80 percent of their felony convictions to the system. Leaving more than 7 million felony convictions in the dark. They don't tell you the truth. Instead, the only thing the average American has heard about background checks is the absolute fallacy that what we need is more. The system is only as good as the records within it. And the records only get submitted if the politicians demand it.

What about the Oregon killer, the WDBJ killer, the Charleston Church killer, the Santa Barbara killer, the Maryland Mall killer, the L.A. Airport killer, the D.C. Navy Yard killer, the Aurora Movie Theater killer, the Tucson killer, the Virginia Tech killer, and both Ft. Hood killers have in common? Every single one of them passed a background check.

If you pass a net and the fish swim through the holes, you don't need a bigger net. You need tighter holes. But when it comes to a background check system that is missing the names of millions of prohibited people, the politicians don't want to fix it. The best kept secret is that the national instant check system wouldn't exist at all if it weren't for the NRA. It is true.

Back in the '90s, President Clinton forced passage of a mandatory waiting period on every handgun purchased in America. Not a background check, a wait. But NRA said as soon as the technology was available, their wait had to be replaced by an instant background check done by the dealer at the point of sale. NRA supported it, NRA got the votes and NRA got it passed.

We demanded an honest system, that was supposed to make sure good people can purchase firearms as quickly as possible, a system that catches violent felons, the adjudicated mentally incompetent, and dangerous, and every other prohibited person right at the point of sale where they would be prosecuted for a federal felony. But they aren't. What has happened instead is one of the greatest failures in the history of American leadership.

In 2010, roughly 80,000 prohibited people committed a felony by trying to buy a gun. Just 44 were prosecuted for it. Does that sound like a good number to anybody? So when you hear politicians who won't fix the broken system, talk about expanding it, don't buy it. Demand what works. Put armed security in every school. Fix the broken mental health system. Enforce the federal gun laws against every criminal thug on the street, prosecute dangerous people when they show up to buy a gun, and for God's sake, put every prohibited person in the system. That's what common sense gun laws look like.



LAPIERRE: Look, you know, the whole discussion of the Second Amendment and the gun issue in this country has become so dishonest in the national media and so dishonest among the politicians that you can barely stand it. That's not a new video as I said. I said for years, I said for years and I've been ignored by the same opportunists who don't give a damn, yet you see them on TV every day, whining away. Here's what I said on CBS way back in 1993. That was 25 years ago.

[10:25:09] (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me ask you this, are you in favor of computerizing the mental health records of people into a national -

LAPIERRE: You bet. You bet I am.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can we join hands on that and go to Capitol Hill right now and shake on it?


Now, here's the real tragedy. Charles Schumer shook my hand to get all the mental health records into the system and then went back to Capitol Hill and you know what he did, absolutely nothing. How many lives might have been saved if he had just kept his promise? They are liars to the core and I'll make this prediction right now.


A year from today, many of those records may still not be in the system. Not if some of these whining for television politicians and their media enablers have their way.


Instead, what they'll do is they'll keep coming after the NRA and when another monster slips through the cracks, the very cracks that they have enabled in the system, as the records of prohibited persons remain out of the database, it will happen again.

But here's something we must be careful of as we go forward. We all have to be careful that this doesn't become a runaway train. What if all of your medical records, perhaps your conversations with your doctor, your prescription information, do we really want all that on a government list and in the government database?

Here's another one. A military vet, comes -- goes to his local VA, comes home, goes to his or her local VA, and tells the doctor they're having trouble sleeping at night or anyone who shares nightmares, nightmares with a medical professional, they all become potential triggers that somebody, somewhere could define as a mental health barrier to owning a firearm.

I even heard a television pundit recently suggesting that people seeking to buy a firearm should be interviewed first. I mean, interviewed first? Who's going to conduct that interview? And what will they ask? That's the challenge we as a free society face. How do we create a step along the way called due process that protects the innocent law-abiding people of this country from being falsely accused, politically abused and permanently stigmatized unjustly?

Come on. Socialists oppose all of our most fundamental freedoms enshrined in the bill of rights. They don't like free speech any more than they like the Second Amendment. They like only limited speech, controlled speech, controlled by them, through safe speech zones, where they can shame the outspoken, or riot to shut them up. If you still think we have full First Amendment freedom in this country, try going right now out to Berkeley and speaking out in favor of conservative causes or even the Second Amendment.


This growing socialist state dreams of manipulating schoolchildren, to squeeze and squeeze information about their parents. They'll be asking your kids if mommy and daddy spank them, or what mommy and daddy feeds them for dinner, they'll want to know what tv shows you watch, what magazines, newspapers you read, and, oh, yes, do mommy and daddy own a gun? And all that private information will be entered into that ultimate list that cloud of data storage that couldn't care less about due process and constitutional freedom and your privacy as an American citizen.

And then it is just a short hop to the systematic destruction of our most basic freedoms in this country. And you all know what they are, but let me say them, family, faith, individual responsibility, and self-destiny, a free market economy, patriotism, respect for our national flag and national anthem, personal liberty, and justice for all.


Going back a decade or more, these essential freedoms and these essential values have been increasingly and sadly ridiculed and disrespected and diminished in this country. And it won't take long if we stay on the path -