MSNBC's Joe Scarborough called out NRA frontman Wayne LaPierre for attacking law enforcement as part of his broad strategy to scare Americans into buying more guns.
The "Morning Joe" host showed portions of the NRA executive vice president's speech Thursday at the Conservative Political Action Conference, where LaPierre stoked fear and anger against the government and law enforcement -- as he has after other high-profile gun massacres.
"Wayne LaPierre and the NRA, they've now spent the past 30 years, I guess, 40 years slandering the men and women who were actually fighting every day and on the front lines in our fight against radical Islamic terror," Scarborough said. "This is what he thinks of those people."
Scarborough said the NRA spokesman had convinced some gun owners that federal authorities were "jack-booted" thugs who wanted to disarm Americans -- but a New York Times reporter who covered CPAC said this latest speech appeared to fall flat.
"He was stoking these fears not just of Second Amendment infringements, but of trampling and confiscation of individual liberties across the board," said reporter Jeremy Peters. "That's what he said, and it's an interesting shift in strategy for a group like the NRA which no longer has a president in the White House to demean and to demonize and to make an enemy of, so what they've done is they've said, 'Okay, there's a much broader conspiracy -- it's no longer coming just from the Democrats, it's coming from the media, it's coming from the intel community, it's coming from the government and they are going to get you, and the ultimate goal is to take your guns.'"
But the speech didn't seem to go over well with younger conservative activists, Peters said, prompting LaPierre to re-enact Jeb Bush's infamous "please clap" moment.
"The room was not with Wayne LaPierre yesterday," Peters said. "Actually, at one point he stopped and he said, 'I sense it's a little quiet out there.' It was quiet, he said, because they must be scared and all gun owners should be. But the reason they were quiet is because they weren't buying what he was selling."