The head of America's powerful gun lobby has blasted gun rights opponents for exploiting last week’s deadly Florida high school shooting to expand gun control and curb the gun violence epidemic in the US.
National Rifle Association (NRA) chief Wayne LaPierre on Thursday dismissed street protests and mounting demands to tighten America's permissive gun laws.
“They hate the NRA. They hate the Second Amendment. They hate individual freedom,” LaPierre said at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Oxon Hill, Maryland, near the nation's capital.
Striking a defiant tone in his first public comments since the mass shooting in Florida, he also accused the gun control advocates of hating individual freedom.
LaPierre blamed school security, families, and the FBI for the tragedy, urging more armed security in education centers. His suggestion was similar to what US President Donald Trump had given for solving the issue.
“Evil walks among us and God help us if we don't harden our schools and protect our kids” LaPierre said. “The whole idea from some of our opponents that armed security makes us less safe is completely ridiculous.”
The comments come as US President Donald Trump has cast citizens with weapons as a solution to shootings, as it emerged an armed deputy was on campus during a deadly Florida rampage but failed to act.
Trump also suggested arming school teachers with guns during a meeting at the White House on Wednesday.
Last week, Nikolas Cruz, an ex-student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, opened fire with an AR-15-style assault rifle, killing 17 people in his former school. It was the second-deadliest shooting at a public school in US history.
The Republican-controlled Congress last year revoked Obama-era regulations meant to make it harder for those with severe mental illness to pass FBI background checks for guns, saying the rule deprived the mentally ill of their gun rights.