Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

NRA Leader Renews Attack on `Thugs'

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

NRA Leader Renews Attack on `Thugs'

Article excerpt

The National Rifle Association's executive vice-president, Wayne LaPierre, stuck to his guns Sunday, refusing to temper his description of federal officials as "jack-booted government thugs."

"Those words are not far off, in fact they are a pretty close description of what's happening in the real world," LaPierre said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

LaPierre's attack on federal agents was included in a fund-raising letter has been cited as the kind of rhetoric that encourages violent acts such as the bombing of the federal office building in Oklahoma City last month. LaPierre insisted that's not the case.

"That's like saying the weather report in Florida on the hurricane caused the damage, rather than the hurricane," he said.

Attorney General Janet Reno, also on NBC, demanded that critics of law enforcement officials be specific in their charges. "I think the most damaging thing that we can do in the country is to talk in generalities or in picturesque terms."

Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he guessed that the NRA would lose two members for every one who joins as the result of LaPierre's language.

But LaPierre denied there was any dissension in the 3.5 million-member organization. The Washington Post reported Saturday that there is a division between the old guard interested in wildlife conservation and firearms education and hard-liners concentrating on defeating gun control legislation.

LaPierre said there is no dispute among the NRA's leadership on the need to investigate alleged abuses by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, a unit of the Treasury Department.

The six-page letter mailed out early in April over LaPierre's signature singles out lawmakers who are pressing for gun control legislation.

LaPierre wrote: "It doesn't matter to them that the semi-auto ban gives jack-booted government thugs more power to take away our constitutional rights, break in our doors, seize our guns, destroy our property, and even injure or kill us. …

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