April 14, 2013

Victims of the massacre in Newtown, Conn., had just been laid to rest when Wayne LaPierre, the chief executive of the National Rifle Association, met with his board of directors in early January. A national tide of grief had prompted new attacks on his group and a White House push for more gun control measures, while Mr. LaPierre — who had called for armed guards in every school — was pilloried as a “gun nut” on the cover of The New York Post.

“They call us crazy, but no one — no other organization in the word — has spent more millions over more decades to keep Americans safe,” said Mr. LaPierre, shown in January at a Senate hearing on gun violence.

“I don’t know why the N.R.A. or the Second Amendment and lawful gun owners have to somehow end up in a story every time some crazy person goes off and kills children,” he complained to Cleta Mitchell, a board member, who says Mr. LaPierre was “horrified” by the deaths and “insanely angry” that he and the N.R.A. were being blamed.

“These people are out to get us and the Second Amendment,” she recalls him telling the board, “and we’re not going to let them.”

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