The unflinching head of the US firearm lobby blasted the "sheer madness" of anti-gun elites in a rant Friday, accusing them of denigrating law-abiding Americans instead of tackling gun violence.
Wayne LaPierre, chief executive of the National Rifle Association, also told the CPAC conservative gathering near Washington that criminals like rapists would not be stopped by a universal background check on gun sales currently under proposal in Congress, but by "a good woman with a gun."
LaPierre acknowledged his message was a hard one to swallow in Democrat-run Washington, but in a baldly confrontational speech he challenged President Barack Obama's administration to enter a fair debate on how to reduce gun violence, instead of vilifying the NRA.
"If we dare disagree, they'll scorn us, they'll demonize us, and they'll try to shut us up. We will not be demonized, and we will not be silent," LaPierre boomed.
"The political elites, they may not like it. The liberal media can keep hating on me. But I'm still standing, unapologetic and unflinching in defense of our individual freedom."
LaPierre was criticized by gun-control supporters when, after a gunman slaughtered 20 children and six adults at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, he called for armed guards at every school in the nation.
While defending his plan, which he said is broadly supported by school administrators and parents, he ridiculed US government recommendations for how unarmed victims should respond to a gunman at an office or school.
"Let's get this straight. To protect our children at school, we recommend a trained professional with a gun. They recommend scissors," he said. "And they say we're crazy? It's sheer madness."
And he slammed Vice President Joe Biden for having said that a woman facing a violent assailant at her home should go outside with an old-fashioned shotgun and fire two blasts to deter him.
"Mr. Vice President... for four decades you've enjoyed the armed protection of the Capitol police and Secret Service officers, all while trying to destroy the Second Amendment rights of the rest of us. So when it comes to that right sir, you keep your advice, we'll keep our guns."
LaPierre also categorized the universal background check proposal as a "placebo" that would only serve to form a gun-owner registry.
"Build a list of all the good people, as if that would make us safer from violent criminals and homicidal maniacs?" LaPierre said. "That's their answer? Are they insane?"
"In the end there are only two reason for government to create that federal registry of gun owners: to tax them, or to take them."
He said that instead of new restrictions, authorities should enforce existing gun laws, incarcerate violent criminals, help the mentally ill get treatment, "and for God's sake, leave the rest of us alone."