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usa breaking news Former NRA president tricked into grad speech for gun violence video

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In a video released by a gun violence prevention group, former NRA president David Keene is seen addressing a stadium of empty chairs. At that time, Keene believed he was speaking to James Madison Academy’s 2021 graduating class.

Keene urges students to uphold the second amendment as the video breaks to audio from 911 calls, revealing terrified voices of students trapped in schools during a shooting.

James Madison Academy isn’t real. The 3,044 empty chairs Keene was addressing represented children and teenagers who were shot and killed before they could graduate from high school.

Keene and another gun rights advocateJohn Lott Jr. were tricked into the fictitious ceremony.

Change the Ref, a gun safety organization founded by Patricia and Manuel Oliver, whose son Joaquin was murdered in the Parkland, Florida, school shooting, published the videos Wednesday. The fake graduation was held for what they call “The Lost Class” of students and to advocate for regulations on gun violence.

“Ironically, had the men conducted a proper background check on the school, they would have seen that the school is fake,” a Change the Ref spokesperson said in a press release.

Keene and Lott gave their speeches during what they were told was a rehearsal; afterward they were told the graduation was canceled. They were not informed about the videos or that the event was fake, BuzzFeed News reported. 

“You’re telling me the whole thing was a setup?” said Lott, when he responded to BuzzFeed News’ request for comment. “No, I didn’t know that.”

“We need to call them out, we need to show everyone — this is how they process the logic behind the gun industry,” Manuel Oliver told BuzzFeed News. “We need to show we’re brave and we’re not afraid of these guys. We’ve already felt the worst possible situation. There’s no threat that can make me feel different.”

On June 4, David Keene and John Lott Jr. believed they were rehearsing to speak a high school graduation. In reality, there speeches were used in a gun violence prevention video.

Lott spoke to the empty chairs about his time working for the Department of Justice during the Trump administration. He went on to call people whose gun purchases were foiled by background checks as “three-and-a-half million law-abiding citizens who wanted to get a gun.”

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