NRA Still Plans Theme Store For New York City

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:19 PM EDT

( - Despite opposition in many quarters, National Rifle Association President Wayne LaPierre said Wednesday the NRA continues to negotiate a lease for a "total shooting sports" theme store in New York City's Times Square. The NRA announced plans for such a store at its national convention in Charlotte, North Carolina last May.

"We are moving ahead with it. We are in negotiations," LaPierre said while answering questions during a conference on gun ownership and crime on Capitol Hill. The project is part of the new NRA Sports division.

The NRA's theme store would be in the same area as the Disney Store, the All-Star Caf\'e9 and Loews movie theatre. At the time of the May announcement, an NRA spokesman said the theme store would be the "biggest presence in Times Square." However, the NRA still hasn't released information about the location or the exact size of the planned store.

Among those opposing the NRA theme store is U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) who believes guns and Times Square are a "dangerous combination."

"I thought that Charlie Schumer showed himself for exactly what he is, when he showed up in New York City and said he was not going to allow an NRA Sports caf\'e9 to be built. Last I heard, New York City was still a part of the United States of America and under the Constitution of the United States. He can't stop us and we're not going to let him stop us," LaPierre said.

Even the criticism of New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani is failing to discourage the NRA's plans, according to LaPierre.

"I don't have a lot of good to say about Giuliani on this issue. They are not going to stop us. New York City doesn't speak for America. For years, Times Square was one of the filthiest, most rancid places in the United States and I didn't see the New York Times editorializing on it on a daily basis. I didn't see Chuck Schumer and I didn't see Giuliani screaming bloody murder about it," LaPierre said.

"It's only when we want to go in there with an NRA Sports caf\'e9, all positive, all about discipline and values and about the safety of the shooting sports, suddenly, they start screaming bloody murder," LaPierre said.

Neither Schumer's nor Giuliani's offices returned repeated calls from, seeking comment.

LaPierre said Schumer and other liberal politicians are targeting the NRA.

"I know what Chuck Schumer and those folks are up to," LaPierre said, "they want to shame the shooting sports of America. They want to take it from the sunlight into the shadows. They want to shame people that are involved. They don't want people involved with the freedom to own a gun, period."

"This NRA Sports concept," LaPierre continued, " is everything about not allowing the shooting sports in America to be shamed and to be pushed into the shadows, because we're proud of it. We've had people from all over the United States call us up and say they want to invest in NRA Sports cafes around the country."

LaPierre said he will meet with a major theme park investor in two weeks to discuss possible "for-profit subsidiaries" in parks across America with the NRA licensing the name. LaPierre thinks these can be places where all "gun owners can come together."

However, New York City's Times Square Business Improvement District thinks the NRA is pulling a "stunt."

"They're welcome. It's a free country," Brendon Sexton, President of the Times Square Business Improvement District said. "They are welcome to come here to Times Square and if they get here, they will make a fortune. I happen to believe that this is a stunt."

Sexton went on to say, "nobody has to clear a deal with us. A private real estate deal is a private real estate deal. But, we've asked everybody we know and no landlord wants them in their building...Anything could happen but I just don't believe it and haven't believed it from the first. I think it's just an attention getting stunt."