National Rifle Association executive vice president and CEO Wayne LaPierre said Friday that the country is on edge like he’s never seen it before, and that it’s up to attendees at the group’s annual meeting and like-minded individuals to fight for its future.

“NRA, this organization, is about giving a voice to all the people like all of us in this room today and everyone else in the country that feels like we do,” he told the crowd at an opening event at the group’s annual meetings.

“I love it because corporations can’t control it, politicians can’t control it, the media can’t control it,” he said. “By gosh, there is an organization … that says ‘this is what we stand for, and we’re willing to fight for it.’ And that’s what I love about it. And that’s what it’s about.

“Gun rights, where we are right now in this country, have become a metaphor for a feeling it’s kind of all slipping away,” he continued. “It’s yearning for individual rights — the right to be safe, the right to be secure, the right to protect your family. The Bill of Rights, the Constitution, the right to live the way you choose.”