By Makayla Grijalva
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — In a speech to Conservatives on Thursday, Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the National Rifle Association, had no shortage of people to blame for last week’s mass shooting in Florida and called for tighter security in schools.
“Our banks, our airplanes… our office buildings, our movie stars, our politicians. They are all more protected than our children at school,” LaPierre said at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Maryland. “Does that make any sense to anybody?”
LaPierre called schools “wide-open targets” and asked people in their communities to come together in order to secure schools by implementing “effective, trained, armed security.”
Earlier in his speech, blamed “school security, the failure of family, the failure of America’s mental health system, and even the unbelievable failure of the FBI” for the mass shooting.
The FBI has admitted it failed to follow through on two tips it received — including one as recent as last month — about shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz. The 19-year-former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder for allegedly mowing down 17 people at the school on Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day. Police say Cruz used an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.
LaPierre also bashed Democrats as well as the media.
Vice President Mike Pence also spoke about school security during his speech at CPAC.
“We’ll make the safety of our nation’s schools and our students our top national priority,” s Pence said. He mentioned President Trump calling on both Congress and the Department of Justice to strengthen background checks when purchasing firearms.
At a White House briefing on Thursday, President Donald Trump spoke about supporting stricter background checks and raising the age limit in order to purchase a gun.
“I believe the status quo, as how we have things now, is not working,” Joshua Marin-Mora of the Georgetown University College Republicans, told TMN. “I would be in favor of raising the age limit from 18 to 21 … and we do need to focus on mental health in this country.”
Mora said he agreed with Pence’s comment that schools need to be some of the most secure places in this country.
LaPierre’s name did not initially appear on the CPAC schedule, apparently amid fears of protesters in the wake of the school shooting. He has made speeches at the conference for the past several years and his organization is usually a chief sponsor of the event.
— CPAC 2018 (@CPAC) February 22, 2018