Gun rights groups are cheering the National Rifle Association for pushing back against President Barack Obama's negative connotation of the word "absolutism" in his inaugural address.
NRA chief Wayne LaPierre went on the attack Tuesday before a crowd of supporters, accusing Obama of trying to take away citizens' constitutional right to own and bear firearms.
"Absolutes do exist, words do have specific meaning in language and in law," LaPierre told members of the Weatherby Foundation, a hunting and wildlife conservation non-profit.
According to Chris Knox, communications director for the Firearms Coalition, LaPierre delivered the right message in the right way.
"There are absolutes and I have no problem with absolutism," Knox told Newsmax. "As soon as you start shading the Second Amendment, you start shading all of them."
Knox was particularly pleased with LaPierre's tough talk, especially since the coalition has been less than happy at times with the NRA's positions.
As an example, Knox pointed to the NRA's endorsement of a 1984 ban on armor-piercing "cop-killer" bullets.
"In the current fight, I'm very proud of the NRA," he said. "They're saying the right things and in an effective way."
In his inaugural speech Monday, Obama warned that Americans shouldn't "mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate."
The Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms sees LaPierre as simply giving voice to gun rights advocates.
"Wayne LaPierre has a right to say what's on his mind. I would hardly try to put words in Wayne's mouth," said communications director Dave Workman. "He expressed an opinion that I'm sure many hold."
Obama's address was what Workman described to Newsmax as "pretty boilerplate stuff."
"Mr. Obama said what he said. He raised quite a few eyebrows across different groups — not just the firearms groups," Workman said.
The Second Amendment Foundation doesn't comment on NRA positions because it focuses on legal and educational issues — not legislation and policy. The foundation's Phil Watson, however, wasn't surprised by the president's remarks because they mirror his record on guns, dating from his years as an Illinois state legislator.
"You have to take major political figures by not just what they say on television but by what they say and do over their careers," said Watson, who is SAF's special projects director and executive director of the International Association for the Protection of Civilian Arms Rights.
"Go back to Obama's past," Watson added. "He has always been a pretty anti-Second Amendment politician."
Last week, the president proposed both legislative measures and executive actions on firearms in response to last month's mass shooting at a Connecticut grade school left 20 children and six adults dead.
"As far as his new push on gun control legislation," Watson said of Obama, "it's really the same old push. He was sponsoring bills in the late 90s to curtail Second Amendment rights."
A spokesman for Gun Owners of America supports the NRA's hard-line approach.
"The media, liberal and conservative, have been right in their analysis of the president's inaugural address. It was a defense of liberal principle — implicitly gun control, said Michael Hammond, the group's legislative counsel.
"We see it as call to war," he told Newsmax, "and we're ready to wage that war."
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