The head of the National Rifle Association, Wayne LaPierre, may have spoken too soon.

Of course he had a right to say what he believed to CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference.

But in his haste to play a populist, nay demagogic, card, LaPierre demonized the “elite” as insensitive and demanded that schools be made “harder” targets. He spoke up for arming teachers.

Not one thing was said in his speech about tighter gun regulation.

LaPierre was employing his usual strategy of taking an aggressive position to fend off popular demand for any kind of change.

This time he, as we say, he jumped the gun.

While House Speaker Paul Ryan was saying it was too early to discuss legislative action in the heat of the Parkland, Florida school shooting, LaPierre was putting his artillery in position for the coming debate.

Like General Ulysses S. Grant, LaPierre believes in striking first. However, we have seen all this before and this time it seems more of a defensive ploy than anything else.

Perhaps LaPierre and his all-out-war captains are running scared. Maybe they, too, realize this time the nation’s reaction to a school shooting is different.

Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have a passion for change. So do many of their peers across the nation. So do many parents and grandparents of school kids.

In our view LaPierre’s preemptive strike only served to alert those students and their families — and the many people in the country who share their outrage — that the worn-out rhetoric of the NRA’s spokespeople is losing its punch.

That rhetoric may be losing its effectiveness with ordinary NRA members, as well.

Even President Trump, who shows genuine sympathy for the Parkland victims and their loved ones, has signaled his willingness to tighten some gun regulations.

This may be the time that common sense takes a big step forward in our response to the latest of our country’s long, shameful series of school shootings.

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