In an angry, paranoid and at times even apocalyptic CPAC speech, NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre railed against the government, the media and “anti-freedom activists everywhere” for participating in what he described as a shadowy and ominous conspiracy against NRA members and liberty-loving Americans.
"Freedom has never needed our defense more than now,” LaPierre assured the packed house of conservative activists. "Almost everywhere you look, something has gone wrong. You feel it in your heart; you know it in your gut. Something in our country has gone wrong."
LaPierre continued in this semi-mystical vein, declaring that “the core values” conservative Americans believe in “are changing, eroding.”
"The core freedoms that have always defined us as a nation — we feel them,” LaPierre intoned. “We feel them slipping away.”
LaPierre insisted that he wasn’t describing a bleak possible future but rather the dire reality of the present. Americans are buying guns, he explained, "not to cause trouble, but because America already is in trouble.”
The trouble, LaPierre explained, was the fault of elites who had cloaked the nation with “political dishonesty” and “media dishonesty,” which have “linked together.”
"The political and media elites are lying to us,” LaPierre said. “You know they are.”
The NRA leader went on to rail against politicians, but his anger was especially intense when discussing the media. "Rather than expose government dishonesty and scandal like they used to,” LaPierre complained, "the media elites whitewash it all.”
"The media’s intentional corruption of the truth is an abomination,” he charged, as the crowd began to cheer, "and NRA members will never — and I mean never — submit or surrender to the national media.”
Putting forward a kind of condensed version of the entire address, LaPierre then said: "In this uncertain world, surrounded by lies and corruption everywhere you look, there is no greater freedom than the right to survive and protect our families with all the rifles, shotguns, and handguns we want!”
At this point, the CPAC audience was so thrilled with LaPierre’s remarks that he struggled to speak above the clamor of approval.
LaPierre wasn’t done. "Now what I just said will be sneered at and ridiculed as feverish fear-mongering,” LaPierre predicted. But he didn’t care: "We are good Americans and we love our country and we are not going to stand idly by as dishonest media and political elites try to strip our rights away!”
Yet in spite of describing his “opponents” as "shrewd and skilled at spinning webs of deceit,” LaPierre assured his fellow conservatives that they would win the “bare-knuckled street fight” of the 2014 congressional elections.
“Mark my words,” LaPierre vowed, "the NRA will not go quietly into the night! We will fight! I promise you that.”
LaPierre then left the stage to the sound of a standing ovation.