National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre delivered a blistering campaign-style speech Thursday, blaming the media and gun-control proponents for a decline in American economic standing and for threatening "God-given" gun rights.
"You feel it in your heart, you know it in your gut: Something has gone wrong" in America, LaPierre told a packed audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference. "Neighborhood streets once filled with skateboards ... and laughter in the air are now filled with silence."
LaPierre, who received the loudest applause of any speakers so far at the conference, put the blame squarely on the media and "political elites," saying that Americans feel their freedoms "slipping away."
"The political and media elites are lying to us. You know they are," he said, citing the Solyndra, Fast and Furious and Benghazi scandals. "They pass legislation they haven't read, and yet eagerly go on to defend them on television."
LaPierre whipped the crowd into a frenzy by listing off the domestic threats he thought Americans face: disease, rapists, killers and dangerous chemicals.
"We trust our freedom. In this uncertain world ... there is no greater freedom than the right to protect our families with all the rifles, shotguns and handguns we want," he said.
The nation's top gun rights lobbyist saved special attention for the media, which he accused of trying to "whitewash it all."
"[The press] fails to provide a level playing field for the truth. Now it's all entertainment, ratings, personal celebrity, the next sensational story," LaPierre said.
Near the end of his speech, he pivoted to the coming congressional midterms, exhorting the crowd to join the NRA and campaign against Democrats.
"Standing with the NRA is a massive declaration of individual rights, an unwavering dedication to ensure the survival of everything that we cherish," he said. "This election is going to be won or lost in every street, on every corner, on every store, in every Church, where every NRA member lives."