NRA chief: Obama makes 'mockery' of American freedoms

NRA responds to inaugural address, accuses Obama of name calling
NRA responds to inaugural address, accuses Obama of name calling

    JUST WATCHED

    NRA responds to inaugural address, accuses Obama of name calling

MUST WATCH

NRA responds to inaugural address, accuses Obama of name calling 02:16

Story highlights

  • His response is the latest criticism against the president by the group
  • "He doesn't agree with the freedoms you cherish," the NRA chief says
  • Obama recently proposed background checks on all gun sales, among other measures
  • The gun lobby group called the president an "elitist hypocrite" last week

The National Rifle Association chief issued a blistering retort to President Barack Obama's inaugural address, accusing him of name calling and limiting American freedoms.

Wayne LaPierre had been relatively silent since his controversial response to the shooting massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.

After the December 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, LaPierre held one public news conference where he doubled down on the NRA position: more guns, not fewer, provide true security.

In a speech late Tuesday night, he hit upon that same theme as he repeatedly criticized Obama and his inaugural speech Monday.

"President Barack Obama quoted the Declaration of Independence and he talked about 'unalienable rights.' I would argue that his words make a mockery of both," LaPierre said at the annual black-tie Weatherby International Hunting and Conservation Awards in Reno, Nevada.

Several times, LaPierre homed in on one part of Obama's address, where the president said, "We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate."

Bloomberg responds to Obama gun proposal
Bloomberg responds to Obama gun proposal

    JUST WATCHED

    Is the NRA winning the gun debate?

MUST WATCH

Is the NRA winning the gun debate? 03:37
PLAY VIDEO
Bloomberg responds to Obama gun proposal
Bloomberg responds to Obama gun proposal

    JUST WATCHED

    Bloomberg responds to Obama gun proposal

MUST WATCH

Bloomberg responds to Obama gun proposal 02:40
PLAY VIDEO
NRA's power over Dems
NRA's power over Dems

    JUST WATCHED

    NRA's power over Dems

MUST WATCH

NRA's power over Dems 01:53
PLAY VIDEO
Obama's gun plan and the NRA's ad
Obama's gun plan and the NRA's ad

    JUST WATCHED

    Obama's gun plan and the NRA's ad

MUST WATCH

Obama's gun plan and the NRA's ad 04:14
PLAY VIDEO

Opinion: Guns were last straw for me with GOP

LaPierre said the president was attacking fervent supporters of the Second Amendment. Many of them believe it provides an absolute right to provide arms.

"When absolutes are abandoned for principles, the U.S. Constitution becomes a blank slate for anyone's graffiti," LaPierre said.

"Words do have meaning, Mr. President. And those meanings are absolute, especially when it comes to our Bill of Rights."

The re-emergence of the NRA's potent mouthpiece comes on the same day of another school shooting that captured national headlines -- the wounding of three people on a Texas college campus.

His speech also comes as Obama and some lawmakers focus on passing gun control measures. Polls show more people are warming up to the possibility.

Last week, Obama proposed background checks on all gun sales, and bans on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

With relatives of some of the 20 children killed in the Connecticut rampage looking on, Obama also signed 23 executive actions -- which don't require congressional approval -- to strengthen existing gun laws. They also take related steps on mental health and school safety.

In his speech Tuesday, LaPierre set his sights on Obama's proposal to expand background checks to anyone buying a gun, whether at a store or in a private sale at an auction or convention.

"There are only two reasons for that federal list of gun owners: to tax them or take them," he told the cheering crowd.

The tit-for-tat continues a running battle between the president and the powerful gun lobby.

Last week, the NRA released an advertisement that called the president an "elitist hypocrite," and asked why he opposes the idea of placing armed guards in every school -- a proposal pushed by the NRA -- despite the fact that his own children attend a school with similar security.

The ad was only slated to air on the Sportsman Channel, but has gained strong media attention, both on the airwaves and online. It has also garnered criticism.

Republican Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey criticized it for making a reference to the president's children in a political attack commercial.

Speaking at a news conference last week, the outspoken governor decried the move as "reprehensible" and argued that the group lost some credibility by making the ad.

"And I think for any of us who are public figures, you see that kind of ad and you cringe. You cringe because it's just not appropriate in my view to do that," he said. "They've got real issues to debate on this topic. Get to the real issues. Don't be dragging people's children into this. It's wrong."

In his Tuesday speech, LaPierre said Obama was among the "self-appointed arbiters of what freedom really means."

"He doesn't understand you. He doesn't agree with the freedoms you cherish. If the only way he can force you to give 'em up is through scorn and ridicule, he's more than willing to do it, even as he claims the moral high ground."

Listen: Red states and guns

      Gun control debate

    • Keeping weapons from mentally ill proves elusive

      Gun rights and gun control advocates largely agree there should be restrictions on mentally ill people obtaining firearms. The case of Myron Fletcher illustrates how difficult it is to put that into practice.
    • Has the moment passed? Why gun control push fizzled

      Six months after a gunman burst into a Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school and slaughtered 20 children and killed six others, promises of stricter national gun control laws remain largely unfulfilled.
    • An undated photo of murder suspect Elliot Rodger is seen at a press conference by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff in Goleta, California May 24, 2014. Rodger, 22, went on a rampage in Isla Vista near the University of California at Santa Barbara campus, stabbed three people to death at his apartment before shooting to death three more in a terrorizing crime spree through the neighborhood. AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

      Opinion: The real gun problem is mental health, not the NRA

      Next time there's a mass shooting, don't jump to blame the National Rifle Association and lax gun laws. Look first at the shooter and the mental health services he did or didn't get, and the commitment laws in the state where the shooting took place.
    • Melvin Speight uses a camera scope run down a barrel to check the rifleing inside. Speight has been with Colt for 7 years.

      At Colt's factory, no apologies for arming America

      The sign at the door of the Colt factory displays a gun with a slash through it: "No loaded or unauthorized firearms beyond this point." Understandable for workers at a plant, but also a bit ironic, considering one of the largest arsenals in America lies just beyond.
    • clip inside man spurlock gun ownership_00004707.jpg

      Five things to know about guns

      Morgan Spurlock's "Inside Man" gives CNN viewers an inside and in-depth look at the issue of firearms -- as viewed from behind the counter of a gun store. Here are five things to know about the debate.
    •  	US President Barack Obama is accompanied by former lawmaker Gabrielle Giffords (L), vice president Joe Biden (R) and family members of Newtown school shooting victims as he speaks on gun control at the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, on April 17, 2013. Obama on Wednesday slammed what he called a 'minority' in the US Senate for blocking legislation that would have expanded background checks on those seeking to buy guns. AFP PHOTO/Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

      Senate rejects expanded background checks

      The Senate defeated a compromise plan to expand background checks on firearms sales as well as a proposal to ban some semi-automatic weapons modeled after military assault weapons.
    • Jessica Ghawi

      The lives shattered by bullets

      As Congress grapples with major gun control legislation proposals, brothers and sisters, mothers, fathers and children write about the people they loved and lost to gun violence and how it changed their lives.
    • How background checks work

      Many Americans and lawmakers are in favor of continuing or expanding background checks on gun purchases, but few understand how the checks work.
    • Connecticut lawmakers pass gun law

      Still stinging from the shooting deaths at Sandy Hook, Connecticut lawmakers approved what advocacy groups call the strongest and most comprehensive gun legislation in the nation.
    • Sandy Hook shooter had gun safe

      It took fewer than five minutes for Adam Lanza to squeeze off 154 rounds, upending life in Newtown, Connecticut, and triggering a renewed national debate over gun control.
    • Faces of the gun debate

      A former drug addict turned anti-violence crusader, and a man who lost his father in a temple shooting. These are just two of many in the conversation.