As the CEO of the National Rifle Association since 1991, Wayne LaPierre has been front and center in the national debate about gun control, which has grown increasingly rancorous amid a rise in mass shootings during his tenure, particularly in schools.
Who is Wayne LaPierre?
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LaPierre, who served as a conservative lobbyist and an NRA staff member before ascending to the top job, is a gun-rights hardliner: He advocates for gun ownership with as few restrictions as possible and believes that attempts to restrict access to firearms qualify as government tyranny. Under his leadership, the NRA has come out against a ban on assault rifles and universal background checks; LaPierre had previously supported the latter initiative in the late '90s.
After the high-school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 dead, LaPierre reiterated the NRA's opposition to gun control, suggesting armed guards in schools and a strengthening of the current background check system (but no new laws) as a solution to the problem. At the Conservative Political Action Conference on Feb. 22, he said that liberal Democrats and the media were joined in a conspiracy to "eradicate all individual freedoms." He suggested that any further attempts at gun control would lead to mass gun confiscation and that our country would be "changed forever." "History proves it. Every time in every nation in which this political disease rises to power, its citizens are repressed, their freedoms are destroyed and their firearms are banned and confiscated,” he said.
What specific policies does Wayne LaPierre support and oppose?
However, LaPierre does support a few measures of regulation. He favors a ban on fully automatic weapons and "bump stock" devices, which turn manual firearms into automatic weapons; one was used in the Las Vegas mass shooting, resulting in 58 deaths and 851 injuries. He supports preventing convicted felons from owning or possessing guns. He supports more funding for mental health care and a national registry to help prevent gun sales to the mentally incompetent. He has advocated for harsher jail sentences for gun crimes.
LaPierre vocally opposes universal background checks, a ban on assault weapons, and any restrictions on semi-automatic weapons.
LaPierre, who earns $5 million a year as the CEO of the NRA, is also an author on gun-rights issues. His books include 2002's "Shooting Straight: Telling the Truth About Guns in America" and 2006's "The Global War on Your Guns."