POLITICS
05/03/2013 01:38 pm ET

Mark Kelly Urges NRA Members To Oust Wayne LaPierre, Other Leaders Ahead Of Annual Convention

Mark Kelly, husband of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), continued to lobby for anti-gun violence measures this week, attempting to reach members of the National Rifle Association in an op-ed ahead of the group's annual meeting in Houston this weekend.

Writing in the Houston Chronicle, Kelly urged responsible gun owners of the NRA to stand up against a group of leaders that he claimed had "turned their backs on the very safety measures, like background checks, that the organization used to stand for -- in exchange for cold hard cash."

Kelly argued that the best way to do that would be to vote out leaders like NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre, who testified in favor of background checks in 1999, but more recently spoke out against them. LaPierre argued more recently that background checks would be ineffective and could lead to privacy issues. LaPierre was in it for his own financial benefit, Kelly argued:

The NRA's two best fundraising months of the past year came immediately following the shootings in Aurora, Colo., and Newtown, Conn. Guns fly off the shelves after tragedies because LaPierre and the gun manufacturers he represents exploit people's fears. In return, gun manufacturers gave LaPierre and the NRA tens of millions of dollars last year alone -- and he spent almost $1 million of it on his own salary. Everyone in the gun lobby gets rich when the gun manufacturers sell the most guns.

Part of the leadership transition is already set to take place. Alabama attorney Jim Porter was elected to replace NRA President David Keene this week, and will assume the position on Monday, when Keene's two-year term is up.

(Read Kelly's entire op-ed at the Chronicle.)

Kelly's plea comes weeks after the Senate voted down a measure to expand background checks for gun purchases, an issue that polling showed was heavily supported by an overwhelming majority of Americans. Wide majorities of NRA member households also support background checks for all gun purchases, according to recent polling.

Kelly became involved with gun issues after his wife was injured in a shooting in January 2011. She and Kelly formed the group Americans for Responsible Solutions to advocate for stricter gun regulations.

The three-day NRA event this weekend is expected to draw more than 70,000 attendees. According to the Associated Press reports, it will kick off on Friday with speeches from conservative leaders including Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas), former GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, former Pennsylvania senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). LaPierre will address the convention on Saturday.

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