Feb. 22 (UPI) -- The head of the National Rifle Association on Thursday described Democrats as "elites" who don't care about school children's safety -- and said news media love tragedy because "crying white mothers are ratings gold."
NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre made the remarks Thursday morning at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
The American Conservative Union's gathering featured speeches by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Marion Maréchal-Le Pen -- the niece of Marine Le Pen, who lost France's presidential election to Emmanuel Macron last year.
LaPierre sent a clear message defending the Second Amendment against "new European socialists" wanting to take charge of Congress and the White House.
"The NRA does care," LaPierre said. "Our American freedoms could be lost and our country will be changed forever.
"And the first to go will be the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution."
LaPierre laid blame on lawmakers such as Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Ct., and House leader Nancy Pelosi, Pelosi, D-Calif., who he said are cheered on by the national media, eager to blame the NRA and call for even more government control.
"They hate the NRA. They hate the Second Amendment. They hate individual freedom," LaPierre said. "In the rush of calls for more government, they also revealed their true selves. The elites don't care, not one whit about America's school system. And school children. If they truly cared, what they would do is they would protect them, for them, it is not a safety issue. It is a political issue."
LaPierre said also failing the system are those wanting to "sweep right under the carpet" the failure of "school security, the failure of family, the failure of America's mental health system and even the unbelievable failure of the FBI."
The idea that armed security makes America less safe is "completely ridiculous," the NRA president said, adding that his organization has the best interests of the nations' students and teachers.
"To stop a bad guy with a gun, it takes a good guy with a gun" he said. "I refuse to leave this stage until I say one more time that we must immediately harden our schools every day."
"Every day young children are being dropped off at schools that are virtually wide-open soft targets for any one bent on mass murder."
NRA spokeswoman said "many in legacy media love mass shootings."
"You guys love it," Dana Loesch said. "Now I'm not saying that you love the tragedy. But I am saying that you love the ratings. Crying white mothers are ratings gold to you and many in the legacy media. And notice I said 'crying white mothers' because there are thousands of grieving black mothers in Chicago every weekend, and you don't see town halls for them, do you?"
In his remarks, Pence sent a warning to conservatives, saying a "motivated" Democratic Party could take back Congress this fall.
"It would be a disaster for our cause if Nancy Pelosi became speaker of the House again. But we're not going to let it happen. This movement should know it's a very real threat. ... They're doing everything they can to try to win back the Congress next November," Pence said.
On gun control, the vice president said "no child, no teacher, should ever be in danger in an American school."
"We will continue with all pray for God's grace and comfort for all the families impacted by this terrible attack and we will pray for Gods wisdom that all of us in positions of authority might find a way to come together with American solutions to confront and end this evil in our times," he added.
President Donald Trump is set to address the conference Friday.
Members of Trump's cabinet are also expected to make appearances throughout the four-day conference, including Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke.
Other events on the agenda are aimed at special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into potential Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
There are sessions entitled "What You Don't Know about the 'Dirty Dossier,' Trump, and Russia," and a speech by House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., whose team authored a GOP memo that Democrats view as a method of undermining Mueller's Russia probe.