Leaders of the National Rifle Association are accusing supporters of gun control of exploiting the mass school shooting in Florida to promote an anti-gun agenda.
NRA leader Wayne LaPierre spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). He said Democrats like House minority leader Nancy Pelosi of California and Connecticut senator Chris Murphy are eager to blame the NRA and are calling “for even more government control”.
He said opponents of gun rights want to “sweep under the carpet” the failure of school safety, families “and even the unbelievable failure of the FBI” to prevent the shootings.
Mr LaPierre and NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch are addressing conservatives at CPAC.
Ms Loesch said many in the media “love mass shootings”, adding, “crying white mothers are ratings gold”.
US President Donald Trump tweeted his backing of the NRA.
Mr Trump said on Twitter: “What many people don’t understand, or don’t want to understand, is that Wayne, Chris and the folks who work so hard at the @NRA are Great People and Great American Patriots. They love our Country and will do the right thing. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”
The president, a strong supporter of gun rights, is publicly weighing some gun control measures in the wake of last week’s school shooting that left 17 dead.
He has expressed interest in strengthening background checks, banning “bump stock”-style devices and raising the minimum age to 21 for possessing more weapons than at present.