The head of the National Rifle Association painted anti-Donald Trump protesters as violent extremists and compared their disruptions to terrorism during a speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday.
"Ladies and gentlemen, another definition of terrorism is violence in the name of politics," said Wayne Lapierre, executive director of the NRA. "And criminal violence has no place in political debate."
Police have clashed, at times, with crowds gathered to protest the new president. But the hundreds of demonstrations that have taken place around the globe have been largely peaceful.
Lapierre's comments were among the strongest against the left and the media during the conference in which bashing those opposing Trump's agenda has been a prominent theme. President Trump called the press "the enemy of the American People" when he addressed CPAC on Friday and White House senior adviser Steve Bannon repeatedly called the media "the opposition" when he spoke one day earlier.
"The left's message is absolutely clear. They want revenge, you've got to be punished," Lapierre said. "They say you're what's wrong with America and now you've got to be purged."
He said many on the extreme left "literally hate everything America stands for" and "are willing to use violence against us."
Lapierre also warned that terrorists could infiltrate the political demonstrations that are widely publicized on social media.
"What happens when terrorists tag along with a flash mob protest at your local airport?" he asked.