NATIONAL HARBOR, Md.—Wayne LaPierre's critics have called him a lot of things in the past few months: A lunatic, crazy, a gun nut. But from his perspective as the executive director of the National Rifle Association, he's the only sane guy in the room.
As an outspoken gun-rights lobbyist, LaPierre has faced heavy scrutiny for his defense of firearm ownership in the aftermath of a recent string of mass shootings. Through the NRA, LaPierre has vehemently opposed new proposals in Congress to build a more robust system of background checks on gun sales and curtail ownership of some firearms.
Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday, the day after a Senate panel considering new gun legislation approved an assault weapons ban, LaPierre argued that despite his opponents' criticism, they're the ones out of step with reality, not him.
"It's time for us to take a sane look at the insanity that's consumed all too much of the media and the political class in this town. They wag a finger condemning the NRA. They call us crazy," LaPierre told the group of conservative activists, before reciting one-by-one the list of the NRA's gun safety, training and education programs. "Each year we teach millions of law-abiding people how to use, store and defend themselves with firearms. We've been training America's military and law enforcement officers since NRA's founding in 1871. And they call us crazy?"
He added, "I'm still standing, unapologetic and unflinching. They can call me crazy or anything else they want."
LaPierre went on to list some of the ideas that have been proposed in defense of imposing gun restrictions. Use scissors to defend against an office gunman, he said the Department of Homeland Security advises, an idea LaPierre called "shear madness." (Get it?) Also, he noted, the vice president says women should fire a shotgun in the air to spook would-be attackers. "Have they lost their minds?" LaPierre asked. And, he said, congressional Democrats have proposed requiring universal background checks, even for private sales. LaPierre, right on cue: "Are they insane?"
He added, "It's as if insanity itself has been sequestered in Washington. They call me crazy, and yet the people doing the finger-pointing are saying things that are absolutely bizarre."