(CNN) — Within minutes of the National Rifle Association’s opening forum at their annual meeting this weekend, the group’s leaders went after gun control proposals and advocates who sought to expand tougher firearm laws following the deadly Newtown elementary school massacre.
“Where we see tragedy, Barack Obama and Michael Bloomberg, they see opportunity,” said Chris Cox, the executive director for the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action.
“While we pray for God to comfort those suffering unimaginable pain, they rush to microphones and cameras, gather in war rooms on Capitol Hill and scheme about how to use that suffering to push their political agenda,” he continued. “That’s who they are and what they believe, but not us.”
Tens of thousands of NRA members and supporters are gathered in Houston this weekend, just weeks after the Senate failed to gain the 60 votes needed to push forward with a bipartisan proposal to expand the background check system for firearm purchases. A proposal an assault weapons ban was also defeated.
The vote was seen as a major victory among anti-gun control advocates and among those in the gun lobby, who argued the measure would not have prevented mass shootings like those seen in Newtown, Connecticut and Aurora, Colorado last year.
Gun control supporters, on the others hand, saw the vote as a catalyst to keep pushing for tougher gun laws.
But Cox argued those who want more firearm regulations on the books are simply using the recent tragedies to push their political agendas.
“We are the moms and dads and sons of daughters of the National Rifle Association, and we want to prevent Newtown, not take advantage of it,” Cox said.
Around 75,000 people are expected to attend, based on registration and past attendance, with 550 vendors also planning to show up.
CNN’s Athena Jones contributed to this report.