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Wayne LaPierre tells Utah feds want to seize guns

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(Scott Sommerdorf | The Salt Lake Tribune) Clint McQueen and his 7-year-old son, Chance, have rifles slung across their backs as they attend a rally along with about 200 other gun-rights activists rallied at the Utah Capitol as part of the "National Day of Resistance" Saturday, February 23, 2013. Later a UHP trooper told McQueen that Chance was clearly not old enough to open-carry, and the father carried the two weapons the rest of the rally.

By David montero

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Feb 23 2013 03:45PM
Updated Feb 25, 2013 03:10PM

The National Rifle Association’s Wayne LaPierre told a crowd of about 1,200 in Salt Lake City Saturday that the federal government wants universal background checks to generate lists of registered firearms so they’ll be easier to seize by federal officials.

"It’s aimed at registering your guns," LaPierre said. "And when another tragic opportunity presents itself, that registry will be used to confiscate your guns."

The controversial CEO of the nation’s most powerful gun organizations with about 5 million members also said such lists would be vulnerable to being hacked and could work their way into the hands of criminals — noting Wikileaks was able to access top secret documents.

"Picture this: your name, your address on a map giving directions to your home that could include a list of all the specific firearms you own," LaPierre said. "That’s a pretty handy list if you’re a seasoned criminal or a drug dealer or a gang member, isn’t it? How safe to do you think that government list would be?"

LaPierre was the keynote speaker at the annual Western Hunting and Conservation Expo at the Calvin L. Rampton Salt Palace Convention Center. His 20-minute speech, which earned him a standing ovation, was aimed largely at his belief that universal background checks being called for by President Barack Obama don’t meaningfully address the problem of gun violence in America.

Instead he reiterated his call for enforcing existing laws against criminals and putting armed police in schools to protect students, echoing his initial statement not long after the Newtown shooting where 20 first-graders were gunned down.

"As we sit here tonight, we are now facing the single most devastating attack on the Second Amendment this country has ever seen," LaPierre said. "From the moment that horrible tragedy happened in Newtown, the NRA focused on what would make our schools safer."

Some gun owners have felt under assault since Obama proposed reducing magazine capacity in guns, calling for closing loopholes in background checks and instituting a ban on assault rifles. At the Utah Capitol Saturday, a rally in the snow featured a newly-created group called the Salt Lake Day of Resistance that sought to maintain more liberal gun laws.

And Utah has shot off in the opposite direction of Obama’s proposals with several gun bills being introduced into the Legislature, including one proposing to eliminate the need for an adult to obtain a concealed weapons permit and another that would have Utah’s gun laws trump federal firearms provisions.

LaPierre didn’t mention Utah specifically during his remarks, but did level criticism at New York and California, specifically Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif who have both pushed for tougher gun control measures.

He even included a short video in the middle of his speech that ripped Obama and Schumer for pushing for gun legislation and, after he finished talking, he stuck around for an auction of a rifle where auctioneer John Blair told potential buyers that their money was a way to tell both of the senators "to go to hell."

Miriam Walkingshaw, who formed Utah Parents Against Gun Violence, watched LaPierre’s speech and said he fed into a dark streak of fear and seemed to spout high-charged rhetoric that always seemed to end with the same result: have more people continue to acquire more firearms.

"He made this chain of logic that universal background checks equate to registering guns and that leads to confiscation," she said. "It went more and more into the paranoia and then he mentioned the catch-and-release justice system — this constant fear that there are so many criminals out there."

"It’s always more and more guns," she said.

dmontero@sltrib.com

Twitter: @davemontero

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