The head of the main US gun lobby group blasted President Barack Obama’s efforts to tighten controls on firearms, saying the call for stricter gun laws in his inauguration speech this week made a “mockery” of basic rights enshrined in the US Constitution.
“President Barack Obama quoted the Declaration of Independence and he talked about ‘unalienable rights’,” Wayne Lapierre, chief executive of the National Rifle Association (NRA), said in a speech to a hunting organization late Tuesday in Nevada. “I would argue that his words make a mockery of both.”
The Obama has placed tighter gun control at the center of its legislative agenda following a string of mass shootings over the past year in the United States that left dozens of people dead, scores wounded and triggered a fresh bout of national soul-searching over relatively lax and uneven US gun laws.
In his second-term inauguration speech on Monday, Obama reiterated his intention to push for tighter gun controls and argued that this in no way contradicts any founding documents or principles of the country, contrary to assertions by Lapierre and other gun advocates.
“We cannot mistake absolutism for principle,” Obama said – a remark that Lapierre put squarely in his crosshairs.
“We’re told that limits on magazine capacity or bans on 100-year-old firearms technology — bans that only affect lawful people — will somehow make us safer,” Lapierre told a cheering crowd, according to the text of his remarks posted on the NRA website.
“We’re told that wanting the same technology that the criminals and our leaders keep for themselves is a form of ‘absolutism’ and that accepting less freedom and protection for ourselves is the only ‘principled’ way to live!
“Criminals couldn’t care less about Barack Obama’s so-called ‘principles!’ They don’t have principles — that’s why they’re criminals!” LaPierre stated.
Earlier this month, one month after a brutal shooting at a school in Connecticut left 20 young children dead, Obama called for a ban on military-style assault weapons, a limit on the number of magazine clips, and a comprehensive background check and database for all gun buyers in the nation.
The Second Amendment of the US Constitution guarantees American citizens the “right to bear arms.” But it is the historical and societal interpretation of those words that is at the heart of the impassioned debate about guns in the United States today.
Gun control advocates argue the US Founding Fathers who drafted the Constitution and other documents didn’t necessarily mean all citizens have the right to bear any kind of arms and access any amount of ammunition at any time and in any context.
Gun rights supporters say the president’s proposals are unconstitutional and a violation of citizens’ rights.
“When ‘absolutes’ are abandoned for ‘principles,’ the US Constitution becomes a blank slate for anyone’s graffiti and our rights and freedoms are defaced,” said LaPierre.
“There are only two reasons for that federal list of gun owners — to tax them or take them. And to anyone who says that’s excessive, Barack Obama says you’re an ‘absolutist,’” he added.