4 May 2013

US gun-rights lobby 'freedom fighters in culture war'

5:30 pm on 4 May 2013

The incoming president of America's influential gun-rights lobby, the National Rifle Association, has told the NRA's annual convention they are freedom fighters in a "culture war".

Alabama lawyer James Porter says it's not a battle about gun rights.

"[You] here in this room are the fighters for freedom," he told the convention in Houston, Texas, the BBC reports. "We are the protectors."

Tens of thousands of people are expected at the convention, where they can not only attend sessions but browse new products from weapons manufacturers and sign up for hunting excursions around the world.

Texas governor Rick Perry also took to the podium, thanking Texan senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz for "fighting back against the anti-gun lobby in their latest attempt to undercut the [US Constitution's] second amendment" - a reference to the failed firearms control bill promoted by President Barack Obama after the shooting massacre at a Connecticut school in December.

Last month the bill fell six votes short of the 60 needed to advance in the Senate. It had support from almost all the chamber's Democrats, but faced near-unanimous Republican Party opposition.

High-profile gun-rights activists including former Alaska governor Sarah Palin and Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal have also spoken at the convention.

Chief executive Wayne LaPierre told the cheering crowd: "The media and the political elites back in Washington are ranting and raving, trying to blame and shame peaceful law-abiding American gunowners for senseless violence.

"NRA members have stared those anti-gun elitists straight in the eye, and we've stared them down."