HOUSTON (AP) — The National Rifle Association has begun its annual convention in Houston on Friday, three days after a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers. in primary school on another side of state, resuming national debate over gun violence.
Former President Donald Trump and other Republican leaders were scheduled to speak at the event. event. Leaders of in gun lobbying for rights group planned to reflect on- and reject any blame for – school shooting in Uvalde. Protesters outraged gun violence was planned to be demonstrated outside.
Some scheduled speakers and performers supported out of in event before it began, including several Texas legislators and “American Pie” singer Don McLean, who said it “would be disrespectful” to go ahead with his act after the country latest mass shooting. Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick said on Friday morning that he had decided not to speak at the event breakfast after “prayerful reflection and discussion with NRA officials.
“As a strong supporter of Second amendment and NRA member, I wouldn’t be want my appearance today to bring additional pain or grief to families and all those who suffer in Uvalde, he said. in statement. “It’s time to focus on families, first and above all.”
NRA said in en online statement that people visit gun show will reflect on”shooting at the Uvalde school”, “pray for victims, recognize our patriotic members, and commit to redoubling our commitment to keeping our schools safe.”
The meeting is first for restless organization since 2019, after twoyear break because of pandemic. organization tried to regroup after a period of serious legal and financial confusion which included failed bankruptcy case, class action lawsuit and fraud investigation by New York attorney general. Once among the most powerful political organizations in country, the influence of the NRA has weakened after a significant drop in political spending.
While President Joe Biden and the Democrats in Congress renewed appeals for stricter gun laws in commemoration of shooting in Uvalda, NRA board member Phil Journey and others attending the conference dismissed the conversation of ban or restriction access to firearms.
Gary Francis, who traveled with his wife and friends from Racine, Wisconsin said he was against new regulations in response to the shooting in Uvalde.
“What happened there is obviously a tragedy,” he said. “But the NRA had nothing to do with It. people who there was nothing to do here with It.”
Larry Miller, 56, from Huntington Beach, California, said he had no problem with NRA meeting place after the Uvalde shooting. He called the shooting “very sad and unfortunate” and said the shooter “showed no respect for for in people the freedoms we have here in this country.”
“We all share these rights to respect of Other people’s right is to respect other people’s life and I think with such of mentality, we should stay here,” he said.
People planning to visit have chosen up registration badges and purchases for NRA souvenirs such as “Suns Out Guns Out” T-shirts. Police already It was set up metal fences in a large park where protesters and counter-protesters were supposed to gather in front of conference center in the city center.
“I know emotions run high. It will not change anything. We can show respect,” Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said. news conference on Thursday evening.
Texas survived series of mass shootings in last years. During this time, the Republican-led legislature and the governor softened gun laws.
there is a precedent for The NRA assemble amid local mourning and controversy. organization gone ahead with a shortened version of his 1999 meeting in Denver about a week after deadly Shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado. Actor Charlton Heston, president of the NRA at the time, told those in attendance that “horrible acts” should not become an excuse to curtail constitutional rights and denounced critics for calling NRA members “villains”.
rocky marshall, former NRA board member, said that although the tragedy in Uvalde ‘makes a meeting in a bad light”, It was not reason cancel it. Marshall said gun rights advocates and opponents maybe maybe reduce gun violence if they focus on factors such as mental illness or school safety.
“Throwing rocks at the NRA, that’s not solve in next mass shooting,” he said. “Throwing stones at people who hate guns, it’s not solve in next mass shooting.”
But the country music singer Larry Gatlin, who pulled out out of scheduled appearance, said he hoped “the NRA would rethink some of its outdated and ill-conceived position”.
‘Til I agree with most of positions held by the NRA, I have come to the conclusion that while background checks won’t stop every lunatic with and gun is at least step in right directionGatlin said.
Country singers Lee Greenwood and Larry Stewart also filmed, according to Variety.
White House Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Thursday that NRA leaders are “contributing to problem of gun violence and don’t try solve This.” She accused them of representation of interests of gun manufacturers,who sell weapons of war with young Adults.”
In addition to Patrick, two Texas congressmen who was scheduled to speak on Friday – U.S. Senator John Cornyn and Rep. Dan Crenshaw were no longer in attendance due to what their staff said changes in their schedules. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott who had to attend, had to speak at the convention on a pre-recorded video instead.
But others went forward with their speeches, including Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz, South Dakota Republican Governor Kristi Noem, and Trump, who said on Wednesday that he would be delivering an “important address to America.”
“America needs real decisions and real leadership in this moment, not politics and partisanship,” he wrote. on his social media Platform.
In an interview on Thursday on Salem radio networkTrump repeated his support for gun rights.
“It’s you, know“Frankly, it’s an interesting time for a speech like this,” he said. “You have to defend your Second Amendment. You must give this second amendment great protection because without him we would be, frankly, a very dangerous country. More dangerous.”
While handguns are allowed at the convention, the NRA said the guns would not be allowed during the convention. session with a picture of Trump because of Secret Service security protocols.
democrat Beto O’Rourke, who challenges Abbott in 2022 Texas governor race said he would attend protest outside.
This was stated by the mayor of Houston Democrat Sylvester Turner. city was required to host an NRA event which was under contract for more than two years. But he urged the politicians skip It.
“You can’t pray and send condolences on one day and then go and defend the weapon on in next. it wrong”, Turner said.
David A. Lieb reported from Jefferson City, Missouri. Jill Colvin reported from New York.
More on school shooting in Uvalde, TX: https://apnews.com/hub/school-shootings.