SALT LAKE CITY — The National Rifle Association vice president spoke to more than a thousand people Saturday night, urging them to contact their representatives to protect their Second Amendment rights.
Wayne LaPierre, the Executive Vice President of the NRA, gave the keynote speech at the Western Hunting and Conservation Expo at the Salt Palace Convention Center. Recent mass shootings have renewed fierce debate on gun control, but LaPierre said the president's plan "demoniz(es) law-abiding gun owners." The crowd of 1,200 cheered for the leader, who pressed them to fight for their Second Amendment rights.
"As we sit here tonight, we are now facing the single most devastating attack on the Second Amendment that this country has ever seen," LaPierre said.
LaPierre has been criticized for his solution to tragedies like the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on Dec. 14 that left 20 children and six adults dead. The NRA has proposed placing armed police and security officers in every school.
Saturday, he repeated the proposal.
"There's not a mom or dad that wouldn't feel better when they dropped their kid off at school and saw a police car in the parking lot," LaPierre said. "There's not a mom or dad all over our country in America that doesn't want their children protected."
He also said the plan for universal background checks isn't reasonable, suggesting instead that the government more strictly enforce current gun control laws.
"Don't you be fooled. There is nothing ‘universal" nor "reasonable' about (background checks)," LaPierre said. "This so-called "background check" is aimed at one thing — registering your guns. When another tragic ‘opportunity' presents itself, that registry will be used to confiscate your guns."
Isaac Holyoak with the Alliance For Better Utah says, the issues isn't about the Second Amendment, but about increasing public safety.
"Buying a gun should be at least as hard as getting a driver's license," Holyoak said.
Currently, federal law doesn't require background checks for private sales, like sales at gun shows. A handful of states have taken action to close the so-called "Gun Show Loophole," and Holyoak said those states see significantly lower rates of suicide and violence against women with handguns.
"Utah has a high suicide rate. If we want to prevent suicides in Utah, perform background checks," Holyoak said.