HOUSTON - Former Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin says recent mass shootings have prompted leaders in Washington, D.C., to exploit tragedy in order to limit the freedoms of law-abiding people.

Palin spoke at the National Rifle Association's convention Friday afternoon in Houston.

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She said while she and others were saddened and angered by December's shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, the emotions that have resulted from it won't make anybody safer and won't "protect the good guys' rights."

The former governor of Alaska asked those at the convention to "keep the faith" and "stand up and fight for our freedoms."

More than 70,000 NRA members are expected to attend the three-day convention amid the backdrop of the national debate over gun control and the defeat of a U.S. Senate bill that would have expanded background checks for gun sales. It was introduced after December's mass shooting at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school. A small gathering of gun control supporters were outside of the convention in Houston.