In a speech that was both bleak and defiant, National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre called on conservative activists Thursday to fight Washington and “media elites” who want to “strip our rights away.”

National Rifle Association Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre speaks at the Conservative Political Action Committee annual conference in National Harbor, Md., Thursday, March 6, 2014. Thursday marks the first day of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, which brings together prospective presidential candidates, conservative opinion leaders and tea party activists from coast to coast. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) AP Photo/Susan Walsh

National Rifle Association Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre speaks at the Conservative Political Action Committee annual conference in National Harbor, Md., Thursday, March 6, 2014. (AP)

“You feel it in your heart,” LaPierre said at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, held just outside Washington, D.C. “You know it in your gut. Something in our country has gone wrong the core values that we believe in, the things we care about most in our lives, are changing.”

One of the most precious rights that we have as Americans, he continued, is the right to raise and protect our families the way we see fit. But that right is under attack.

Now, he said, people come up to him and say, not with anger, but with sadness: “Wayne, I’ve never been worried about this country until now.”

“For the things we care about most, we feel profound loss. Not that we think something is going wrong, but because we already know something has gone,” LaPierre said.

“America is already in trouble. Reckless government actions have consequences. When government breaks faith with the peoples, everything is in jeopardy,” he added. “Political and media dishonesty have joined forces to misinform and deceive the American public.”

LaPierre said “political and media elites” are lying to Americans, and that the “political elites” pass laws they haven’t even read while the “media elites” defend them.

“Rather than expose government dishonesty like they used to, the media elites whitewash it all,” he said.

It has gotten so bad, he added, the “IRS is now a weapon.”

Then there’s the media treatment of the NRA.

“They’ve never been honest about the NRA. They hate us. The media’s intentional corruption of the truth is an abomination,” he said.

A defiant LaPierre paused, looked out over the crowd and then declared that the NRA will “never surrender or submit to the national media.”

Convention attendees jumped to their feet.

“Government itself has proven unworthy of our trust,” he said. “We trust ourselves.”

He added: There is “no greater right than the freedom to protect our families with all the rifles, shotguns and handguns we want.”

Again, the crowd erupted in applause.

“Do you trust this government to protect you?” he asked after going through a litany of threats to the human person, including rape, terrorism and home invasion.

“No!” the audience shouted.

“We are on our own, that is a certainty,” he said. “When you’re on your own, the surest way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

“Media elites try to strip our rights away,” he said, later encouraging convention attendees to sign up for the NRA.

“The NRA will not go quietly into the night,” he promised, referring specifically to the upcoming midterm elections and the 2016 presidential race. “We will fight. I promise you that.”

“With millions of Americans just like you all over this country,” he concluded, the crowd rising to its feet. “We will take back our country. Do you want to save this county and all that good and right about America?”

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