A Harlem mom whose two sons were murdered by gun-toting killers stood toe-to-toe Saturday with a leader of the National Rifle Association.
Jackie Rowe-Adams traveled to the NRA’s national meeting and had a verbal duel with NRA CEO and Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, a slightly tense exchange that evolved into mutual respect.
“For a minute, for a second, I felt a little anger, because he was so determined to believe that his way was right,” Rowe-Adams said afterward. “But then he flipped on it, and started to listen.”
Rowe-Adams, 64, accepted a Daily News invitation to attend the annual gathering of the hugely influential gun lobbying group that boasts 4.3 million members.
This year’s 141st meeting was held inside the 66,000-seat Edward Jones Dome, home to the St. Louis Rams. Rowe-Adams’ husband, William Adams, had to pay $25 to become an NRA member and gain the couple entrance to the event.
Rowe-Adams, one of the founders of the group Harlem Mothers S.A.V.E., stood in front of the stage where LaPierre appeared to ask for his support on background checks for gun buyers and microstamping.
“We need extensive background checks,” she told LaPierre. “A 13-year-old boy killed my second son. . . . We just need your support with some of the legislation.”
Microstamping would ensure that the make, model and serial number of every gun would appear on its shell casings when the weapon is fired.
LaPierre blamed politicians and prosecutors who fail to make sure existing laws are properly enforced.
“I understand your pain and I totally, believe me, we want to stop it more than anyone,” LaPierre said. “But the way to do that is to start enforcing the federal gun laws on the books.”
The city Parks Department recreation manager was stunned by the crowds and the exhibits, including a “Wall of Guns” raffle where an assortment of weapons were mounted.
“Look at all the guns,” she said in disbelief. “This is heartbreaking.”
Particularly shocking to Rowe-Adams and her husband were the number of families among the thousands of NRA members.
“You see little babies asking questions about the guns,” she said. “It’s eerie. It’s not a good feeling, and it breaks my heart.
At the end of her back-and-forth with LaPierre, Rowe-Adams called for his assistance in cutting the flow of guns from the South into New York City, like the weapons involved in the Easter Sunday shooting that wounded four cops.
“We need to get to the core of all these states (in the South) that don’t have mandatory background checks and registration,” she declared. “We need to do better!”
LaPierre promised to work with Rowe-Adams and her group. “I understand the pain,” he said, “and there are ways to address this problem.”
Rowe-Adams plans to hold the NRA bigwig to his word.
“I really felt him feeling the pain that I and so many other mothers feel,” she said. “I really felt power. I felt we did a little something.
“But we need to hold him to what he said about helping us Harlem mothers.”