Wayne LaPierre made what some are calling anti-Semitic remarks and offered shifting political positions on guns in schools during his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in late February.
LaPierre, 68, is the executive vice president and CEO and of the National Rifle Association. Dana Loesch may be the NRA spokesperson, but LaPierre is its face for nearly three decades. The NRA says it is “America’s longest-standing civil rights organization. Together with our more than five million members, we’re proud defenders of history’s patriots and diligent protectors of the Second Amendment.”
What you need to know:
1. Who Is Wayne LaPierre?
Born in upstate New York in 1949, LaPierre, a raised a Roman Catholic, and his family moved to Virginia when he was a child.
As a young man, LaPierre did not fight in Vietnam though had a Selective Service number that would have had him drafted; he did not and “it’s reasonably safe to assume that he did receive a deferment of some kind,” but there’s no found record describing the deferment.
But following his post secondary education, LaPierre became a conservative activist and lobbyist. He joined the National Rifle Association in 1977 while working as a legislative aide for a Virginia delegate and gun rights proponent.
In 1991, he took over the leadership of the NRA and has been a outspoken advcoate for the powerful gun lobby since.
For its February 2018 conference, CPAC described LaPeirre this way: “Over the past two decades, under his leadership, the NRA has witnessed unprecedented growth in membership, resources, and political strength, which has led to the greatest expansion of Second Amendment freedom in history. LaPierre serves as the public face and voice for NRA’s 5 million members and America’s 120 million gun owners who are among this nation’s most politically savvy and engaged constituency.”
LaPierre is also chief lobbyist for the NRA’s internal Legislative Action group.
2. LaPierre’s Shifting Position On Guns in Schools?
Following the 1999 Columbine High School mass shooting, LaPierre spoke to the NRA membership.
“We believe in absolutely gun-free, zero-tolerance, totally safe schools. That means no guns in America’s schools. Period. With the rare exception of law enforcement officers or trained security personnel. We believe America’s schools should be as safe as America’s airports. You can’t talk about. Much less take guns on the airplanes. Such behavior in our schools should be prosecuted. Just as certainly as such behavior in our airports is prosecuted.”
LaPierre was talking about guns brought to schools, PolitiFact says. But others disagree and contend he contradicted himself.
A week after the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School where 27 were killed, among them 20 6-and 7-year-old children, LaPierre said, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” and called to have armed police in every school.
“The truth is, that our society is populated by an unknown number of genuine monsters. People that are so deranged, so evil, so possessed by voices and driven by demons, that no sane person can every possibly comprehend them,” LaPierre said. “They walk among us every single day, and does anybody really believe that the next Adam Lanza isn’t planning his attack on a school, he’s already identified at this very moment?”
LaPierre blamed gun-free zones for gun violence and and called for armed law enforcement officers in schools to protect children while they learn.
“Politicians pass laws for gun-free zones,” LaPierre said. “And, in doing so, they tell every insane killer in America that schools are the safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk.”
At the time, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg accused the NRA of offering “a paranoid, dystopian vision of a more dangerous and violent America where everyone is armed and no place is safe.”
Fox News founder Rupert Murdoch, Australian-born and naturalized US citizen in 1985,spoke out about gun control measures following Sandy Hook and said following LaPierre’s remarks.
At CPAC, LaPierre hammered and blamed the FBI, the media and gun control advocates for one of the world’s deadliest school shootings, the mass murder of 17 at Marjory Stoneman Doulgas High School on Feb. 14.
LaPierre now calls for armed security in schools. “That has to happen now. Evil walks among us.”
3. LaPierre Blasts Gun Control Advocacy By ‘Elites;’ He Is A Well-Educated Multi-Millionaire
LaPierre says academic and financial elites are the enemy of the Second Amendment.: “The elites do not care one whit about America’s school system and schoolchildren.” LaPierre earned more than $5 million from the NRA in 2015. His base salary is around $1 million plus bonuses, speaking fees and book royalties as head of the NRA and has two advanced degrees from liberal arts colleges, Boston College and Siena College, the private New York school founded by the Franciscans.
4. Speech At CPAC Seen As Anti-Semitic, a ‘Dog Whistle’
LaPierre’s remarks at CPAC are being seen by many Jews, whatever the political leaning from the far left or far right, who listened to or read LaPierre’s speech and read the subsequent supportive commentary by neo-Nazi sites like The Daily Stormer—heard a decidedly anti-Semitic lecture.
The Jewish Telegraph said LaPierre’s remarks focused on gun control advocates who he charged promote socialism adding, their “social engineering” is well funded with billions donated “people like George Soros, Michael Bloomberg, Tom Steyer and more.” LaPierre pointed to three prominent, wealthy Jews.
Haaretz said “LaPierre identified the enemies of the NRA, and of America, as Jews – from Karl Marx to Bernie Sanders, from Hungarian-born Holocaust survivor George Soros to former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg. LaPierre singled out Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer of New York as one of the Democrats who are ‘liars to the core.’”
Indeed, the headline and the text is blatantly anti-semitic: “There is basically zero chance that LaPierre and others in the top ranks of the NRA aren’t aware of the Jewish issue, especially as it relates to the second amendment. They’ve remained silent on this topic until now, scared of the media power that the Jews possess. But things are changing.”
5. LaPierre Says American Gun Ownership Is a Divine Right
“And there is no greater personal individual freedom than the right to keep and bear arms, the right to protect yourself, and the right to survive. It is not bestowed by man, but granted by God, to all Americans as our American birthright.”
In an interview when asked how gun rights became so core for the “ far right’s religious faith” historian Gerald Horne says it began with 15h century European settlers who themselves were “religious dissenters …theocrats,” he said. Following American revolt against British rule, the Second Amendment is became “the fountain head for this now religious devotion to gun rights. And you can’t understand the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution without understanding that the settlers wanted to continue moving westward, seizing the land of the Native Americans and stocking that land with enslaved Africans to endure free labor. And that involved, as they saw it, arming the European civilian population.”
And The Pew Research Center says that Evangelical Christians are more likely to support gun rights.
LaPierre in his speech followed with, “So I call right now today on every citizen who loves this country, and who treasures this freedom, to stand and unflinchingly defended the second amendment, the one freedom that protects us all in this country.”
The right wing blog The Lid says LaPierre is absolutely correct. “…endowed by the Creator with inalienable rights,” one of which is found in the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms to protect “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”