Heavy-handed gun laws and a culture disapproving of gun ownership put citizens in a vulnerable position during the door-to-door search for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev last month, NRA Chief Executive Wayne LaPierre said on Saturday.
“How many Bostonians wished they had a gun two weeks ago?” LaPierre asked in a speech at the National Rifle Association’s annual convention in Houston.
“Residents were imprisoned behind the locked doors of their own home, a terrorist with bombs and guns just outside,” LaPierre said, referring to the police search in the Boston suburb of Watertown.
Reiterating a theme from earlier speakers, he said law-abiding gun owners were under attack through government moves to control gun ownership, despite the need for self-protection.
“Lying in wait right now is a terrorist, a deranged school shooter, a kidnapper, a rapist, a murderer, waiting and planning and plotting in every community across our country, lying in wait right now,” LaPierre said.
“No amount of political schemes, congressional legislation, presidential commissions or media round tables will ever change that inevitable reality.”
The convention is the first national gathering of members since last year’s high-profile shooting sprees at a theater in Aurora, Colorado, and Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
It also comes less than a month after the U.S. Senate voted down a measure to expand background checks for gun buyers, a step favored by U.S. President Barack Obama and most Americans.
An online Reuters/Ipsos poll released in January showed that 86 percent of those surveyed favored expanded background checks of all gun buyers.
A CBS News/New York Times poll released on Wednesday showed that 88 percent support background checks for all gun buyers and that 59 percent are disappointed or angry about the Senate vote.
Several demonstrations in support of stricter gun control took place across the street from the convention center.