But after NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch was jeered by thousands of people over gun control at a CNN-sponsored town hall on Wednesday in Florida, she and the top NRA official not only appeared at CPAC Thursday, but they went on the attack ― blasting Democrats, the media, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation over its failure to act on tips that may have stopped the shooter in Parkland.
Samuel Zeif, an 18-year-old senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., cries after speaking during a listening session with President Donald Trump and students and teachers in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. "It's just too simple to look at those people and say, 'My god.' They're doing Wayne LaPierre's bidding, they're doing the NRA D.C. lobbyist bidding, and those people are doing the bidding of financiers, extraordinarily wealthy people, who are making money off of these tragedies to sell more military-style guns". Just as the President has dismissed stories and even entire news outlets whose coverage is unfavorable to him as "fake news", LaPierre lamented that coverage of the Second Amendment and gun control issues is unfairly skewed, saying journalists "hate the NRA" and are "eager to smear" the organization. Their comments followed a week that saw students and families of shooting victims executing walk-outs, protests and face-to-face meetings with elected leaders, including President Trump, in calls for gun control and school security.
LaPierre's speech comes as President Trump is signaling an openness to certain gun control efforts, including the idea of raising the minimum age for purchasing certain firearms, which Trump publicly endorsed Thursday morning.
KUSI's Ginger Jeffries has the details.
Survivors of the massacre joined a rally in the Florida State capital of Tallahassee last night - while others met with US President Donald Trump in the White House.
LaPierre called for armed guards in schools and said that the NRA would provide free assistance.
LaPierre said the NRA will provide support and guidance on how schools can protect themselves free of charge.
The address assumed a dire tone at times, which is not unusual for LaPierre's speeches.
And some strong gun-rights supporters said a delay made sense.
Cinemark bans large bags in movie theaters
And with mass shootings continuing across the country, moviegoers say any inconvenience is worth the peace of mind. Cinemark said it reserves the right to inspect all bags and packages as customers enter the theater.
He called out rising-star Democratic lawmakers - many of them potential candidates for the 2020 presidential election - by name.
"It's a freaky fact that in this country our jewelry stores all over this country are more important than our children, our banks, our airports, our National Basketball Association games, our NFL games, our office buildings, our movie stars, our politicians, they are all more protected than our children at school", he said.
"Many in the legacy media love mass-shootings".
But Trump also threw his support behind the National Rifle Association (NRA), a powerful US organization that advocates for gun rights. "I understand handguns, shotguns, but an AR-15 ... you can make them fully automatic". "If they truly cared, what they would do is they would protect them". Our students need more books, art and music programs, nurses and school counselors; they do not need more guns in their classrooms.
"They love our Country and will do the right thing", Trump tweeted.
Loesch, a popular conservative pundit and the face of NRA TV, attended CNN's Wednesday town hall in Florida with members of the Parkland community. They hate the 2nd Amendment.
Ms Loesch also accused the media of "loving" gun massacres.
"I think raising the age is not a bad thing, it's a good thing", Marie Zare, a NY commercial real estate broker, said.
"I'll be honest with you", Trump said.