NRA sets it sights on the future as membership explodes
'Stand and Fight' becomes gun lobby's motto of the year
The National Rifle Association is setting its sights on the years ahead - and they say they're extending their platform beyond gun rights. At their annual convention, the group noted that its membership is now at an all-time high of five million members - and their clearly have their sights trained on the upcoming 2014 congressional elections.
Gun owners' freedom "is on the line and never more on the line than right now and through the 2014 congressional elections."
LaPierre has spearheaded the charge against the first sustained push for new gun laws in nearly two decades. Public concern has grown after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 20 children and 6 teachers were killed.
LaPierre linked the gun-control debate to the aftermath of the Boston bombings in his speech, arguing that as police searched for an armed suspect in a place where guns are heavily regulated, residents were sheltered in place with no means to defend themselves.
"How many Bostonians wished they had a gun two weeks ago?" LaPierre asked the crowd, the first time the NRA connected the Boston bombing with the gun control debate.
A bill expanding background checks to gun show and Internet sales failed last month in the Senate. Democrats couldn't get 60 votes for the compromise proposal, with an overwhelming number of Republicans voting "no."
NRA members acknowledged that even in the emotionally charged post-Newtown era, bans on so-called assault weapons and high-capacity magazines have also failed.
Outgoing NRA leader David Keene called the defeat of background checks "quite an accomplishment -- an accomplishment that few of us would have predicted back in January."
Two floors below the speakers' hall, stalls showcasing guns, ammunition and firearms accessories from more than 500 retailers were spread out across nearly nine acres of space.
More than 70,000 attendees from across the country attended the convention.
While polls show overwhelming numbers of Americans support broader background checks, the NRA members at the Houston convention largely didn't share that view.
"Why should we pay through extra legislation, through extra hassle to be a law-abiding citizen?" Martin Baker, a first-time convention attendee said.
"You're not going to ever stop [gun violence] with a band-aid," 64-year-old Larry Alders who has been an NRA member since he was 16 said.
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Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lordís invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.
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