The National Rifle Association chief stepped from the shadows to issue a blistering retort to President Barack Obama's inaugural address, accusing him of name calling and limiting American freedoms.Wayne LaPierre has been silent since his controversial response to a shooting massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.
In a speech late Tuesday night , he took shots at Obama's inaugural address.
"President Barack Obama quoted the Declaration of Independence and he talked about 'unalienable rights.' I would argue that his words make a mockery of both," LaPierre said at the hunting and conservation event in Reno, Nevada.
LaPierre took issue when Obama addressed absolutism and criticized gridlock in Washington.
"For now decisions are upon us and we cannot afford delay," Obama said Monday.
"We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate."
LaPierre accused the president of name calling and questioned that statement.
"So what is this 'absolutism' the president attacks?" he asked. " And what are the so-called 'principles' that he wants us to settle for instead? Obama wants to turn the idea of 'absolutism, into a dirty word, just another word for extremism."
The re-emergence of NRA's potent mouthpiece comes on the same day of another school shooting that captured national headlines -- the wounding of three people on a Texas college campus.
His speech also comes as Obama and some lawmakers focus on passing gun control measures. Polls show more people are warming up to the possibility.
Last week, Obama proposed background checks on all gun sales, and bans on military style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
With relatives of some of the 20 children killed in the Connecticut rampage looking on, Obama also signed 23 executive actions -- which don't require congressional approval -- to strengthen existing gun laws. They also take related steps on mental health and school safety.
In his speech Tuesday, LaPierre set his sites on Obama's proposal to expand background checks to anyone buying a gun whether at a store or in a private sale at an auction or convention.
"There are only two reasons for that federal list of gun owners --- to tax them or take them. And to anyone who says that's excessive, Barack Obama says you're an 'absolutist.' He doesn't understand you. He doesn't agree with the freedoms you cherish," he told the cheering crowd of hunting enthusiasts.
The tit-for-tat continues a running battle between the president and the powerful gun lobby.
Last week, the NRA released an advertisement that called the president an "elitist hypocrite," and asked why he opposes the idea of placing armed guards in every school -- a proposal pushed by the NRA -- despite the fact that his own children attend a school with similar security.
The ad was only slated to air on the Sportsman Channel, but has gained strong media attention, both on the airwaves and online. It has also garnered criticism.
Republican Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey criticized it for making a reference to the president's children in a political attack commercial.
Speaking at a news conference last week, the outspoken governor decried the move as "reprehensible" and argued that the group lost some credibility by making the ad.
"And I think for any of us who are public figures, you see that kind of ad and you cringe. You cringe because it's just not appropriate in my view to do that," he said. "They've got real issues to debate on this topic. Get to the real issues. Don't be dragging peoples' children into this. It's wrong."