National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre said on Wednesday taking away the guns of law-abiding Americans is not the answer to recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.
"Recently we watched in horror as two unspeakable tragedies unfolded in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio," LaPierre said in a video message. "Like all Americans, we at the NRA extend our deepest sympathies to the victims and their families, and we salute the courage of our law enforcement officials and first responders. But there's nothing about an insane criminal committing a horrible act that should lead to the government taking guns away from law-abiding citizens. That will only make us less safe."
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He decried the "highly orchestrated effort to disarm American citizens" in the aftermath of the attacks. LaPierre claimed politicians proposing new strict gun control measures have backers more interested in targeting the NRA and gun owners than crime.
"It's an effort to destroy the NRA," he said. "To defame our millions of members and tens of millions of supporters. An effort that's fueled by billionaires and a multi-billion-dollar media machine that couldn't care less about fighting crime. Their fight is against you, your guns, and your freedom."
He said the NRA will "never give in" because the country is safer with Second Amendment protections. LaPierre said the NRA advocates for better enforcement of current gun laws, including tougher prosecutions to ensure "hard time for hard crime."
"The way to make this country safe is to slam the door on violent criminals," LaPierre said. "Like NRA members have been demanding for the past forty years. And make no mistake. No organization in America has done more to fight violent crime than the NRA."
LaPierre has reportedly spoken multiple times with President Donald Trump in the last week about potential new gun control laws. The gun rights group issued a statement last week opposing many of the gun control bills in the wake of recent attacks. It argued the proposed measures would not have been effective in preventing the shootings. However, Trump has indicated in public statements that he believes the NRA will "get there" on support for an expansion of background checks to cover sales between private individuals on the used market.
Still, LaPierre said the NRA would not back down from its position on new gun control measures in Wednesday's video.
"We will not allow anti-gun politicians and elitist billionaires to jump on the back of a horrible tragedy and blame good people for an act of pure evil," he said. "We will always defend our right to defend ourselves. And no one is going to take that away on my watch. No one is going to take that away as long as NRA stands and fights for freedom."
LaPierre, who has faced a drawn-out internal fight in recent months, finished the video by calling on NRA members and all gun owners to unite in the effort to prevent new gun control measures from being passed into law.
"Let's stand together now," he said. "Let's make this country a better, safer place. And let's fight to make sure no madman or billionaire or elitist politician ever takes away our God-given right to protect our lives, our homes, and the people we love."