National Rifle Association (NRA) chief has blasted President Barack Obama over remarks on firearms in his inaugural address, accusing him of using the speech to steal the freedoms of law-abiding gun owners.
Speaking at the 56th annual Weatherby Foundation International Hunting and Conservation Awards in Reno, Nevada, on Tuesday, NRA Chief Executive Wayne LaPierre sharply criticized Obama’s inaugural address in which he said the nation “cannot afford to mistake absolutism for principle.”
“I urge our president to use caution when attacking clearly defined absolutes in favor of his principles,” LaPierre said in his first response to the president’s speech, adding, “When absolutes are abandoned for principles, the US Constitution becomes a blank slate for anyone’s graffiti.”
In his second inaugural speech on Monday, Obama said, “Being true to our founding documents does not require us to agree on every contour of life. It does not mean we all define liberty in exactly the same way,” implying that the constitutional provisions need to be interpreted to suit today’s changed world.
The NRA’s chief noted that Obama’s speech “made a mockery” of the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, claiming that Obama is trying to take away Americans’ fundamental freedoms guaranteed under the Constitution.
“They are God-given freedoms. They belong to us in the United States of America as our birthright. No government gave them to us and no government can ever take them away,” LaPierre said.
“We believe that we deserve and have every right to the same level of freedom that government leaders reserve for themselves -- to defend ourselves and our families with semi-automatic firearms technology,” he stated.
LaPierre also accused the US president of wanting to put “every private personal firearms transaction right under the thumb of the federal government.”
Over the past four years, the NRA, America's top-gun lobby, has repeatedly said that Obama wants to take away Americans’ rights to own guns, a charge the president denies.
The debate over gun control has intensified in the US after Newtown elementary school massacre.
On December 14, 2012, twenty children and six adult victims were fatally shot by a gunman -- who later killed himself -- at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in the town of Newtown in the US state of Connecticut. Earlier in the day, the assailant killed his mother in another location.
There have been reports that the twenty-year-old killer, Adam Lanza, suffered from a personality disorder, was on the antidepressant Prozac, and was fond of first-person shooter games.
Every year, more than 30,000 people are shot and killed in the US.
The US averages 87 gun deaths each day as a function of gun violence, with an average of 183 injured, according to the University of Chicago Crime Lab and the Centers for Disease Control.
The year 2012 was a record setting year for gun sales in the US.
About 4.5 million firearms are sold annually in the US at a cost of 2 to 3 billion dollars.