NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — All that attention the National Rifle Association's Wayne LaPierre has gotten since the Newtown shooting might be getting to him. In a speech here at CPAC Friday, LaPierre said some form of "And they call us crazy!" four times. "They" are the elite who want to register your guns. But LaPierre gives the elites who think he's crazy a lot of material to work with.
Despite portraying the NRA as a beacon of sanity in crazy Washington, LaPierre veered into conspiracy theories. The Second Amendment isn't just an American right, he said, it's the right that protects all other rights: "If you aren't free to protect yourself when the government puts its thumb on that freedom, then you're not free at all." He was not speaking in hypotheticals. LaPierre railed against universal background checks on gun purchases, which just passed a key Senate committee vote. Universal background checks is a gateway to a universal list of gun owners, LaPierre said. "Why build a list of all the good people? As if that would somehow make us safer from violent criminals or homicidal maniacs! ... What's the point of registering lawful gun owners anyway?" He offered a few theories: So newspapers can print names of gun owners for gangs to access, so the list can be hacked by the Chinese, so the list can be handed over to the Mexican government — "Oh, by the way, they've already requested it!"
Then he got real. "There are only two reasons to compile list of gun owners: to tax them or to take them." (As with so many of LaPierre's lines, this one is not new.) They've planned this all along, LaPierre said. "Sen. Feinstein admitted she had her gun bill ready a year ago locked in a drawer waiting for the opportunity." LaPierre has given no sign that he's a Newtown truther — the group of conspiracy theorists who think no one died at Sandy Hook, that all the grieving people were actors, and that the event was a "false flag" meant to scare people into letting the government take their guns. LaPierre has repeatedly referred to Adam Lanza as a murderer. Nevertheless, the idea idea that Feinstein was waiting for a tragedy for a chance to take your guns is a core part of some of the darkest conspiracy theories on the Internet.
Watch the whole speech here, and stay tuned for more from on the ground at CPAC all weekend...