NRA stages big gun show in Texas days after school massacre

May 26, 2022, 1:27 AM | Updated: 7:38 pm
Convention attendees look at various rifles and handguns in display cases that are being raffled of...

Convention attendees look at various rifles and handguns in display cases that are being raffled off at the Gallery of Guns booth at the NRA Annual Meeting at the George R. Brown Convention Center Thursday, May 26, 2022, in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)

(AP Photo/Michael Wyke)

HOUSTON (AP) — The National Rifle Association begins its annual convention in Houston on Friday, and leaders of the powerful gun-rights lobbying group are gearing up to “reflect on” — and deflect any blame for — the deadly shooting earlier this week of 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

Former President Donald Trump and other leading Republicans are scheduled to address the three-day firearms marketing and advocacy event, which is expected to draw protesters fed up with gun violence.

Some scheduled speakers and performers have backed out, including two Texas lawmakers and “American Pie” singer Don McLean, who said “it would be disrespectful” to go ahead with his act in the aftermath of the country’s latest mass shooting.

While President Joe Biden and Democrats in Congress have renewed calls for stricter gun laws, NRA board member Phil Journey said the focus should be on better mental health care and trying to prevent gun violence. He said he wouldn’t support banning or limiting access to firearms.

The NRA said in an online statement that people attending the gun show will “reflect on” the Uvalde school shooting, “pray for the victims, recognize our patriotic members, and pledge to redouble our commitment to making our schools secure.”

People planning to attend picked up registration badges Thursday and shopped for NRA souvenirs, such as T-shirts that say “Suns Out Guns Out.” Police already had set up metal barriers across the street from the convention center, at a park where protesters are expected to gather Friday.

Gary Francis traveled with his wife and friends from Racine, Wisconsin, to attend the NRA meeting. He said he opposed any gun control regulations in response to the Uvalde shooting.

“What happened there is obviously tragic,” he said. “But the NRA had nothing to do with it. The people who come here had nothing to do with it.”

Texas has experienced a series of mass shootings in recent years. During that time, the Republican-led Legislature and governor have relaxed gun laws.

There is precedent for the NRA to gather amid local mourning and controversy. The organization went ahead with a shortened version of its 1999 meeting in Denver roughly a week after the deadly shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado. Actor Charlton Heston, the NRA president at that time, told attendees that “horrible acts” shouldn’t become opportunities to limit constitutional rights and he denounced critics for casting NRA members as “villains.”

Rocky Marshall, a former NRA board member, said that although the tragedy in Uvalde “does put the meeting in a bad light,” that’s not a reason to cancel it. Marshall said gun-rights advocates and opponents can perhaps reduce gun violence if they focus on factors such as mental illness or school security.

“Throwing rocks at the NRA, that doesn’t solve the next mass shooting,” he said. “Throwing rocks at the people that hate guns, that doesn’t solve the next mass shooting.”

But country music singer Larry Gatlin, who pulled out of planned appearance at the event, said he hopes “the NRA will rethink some of its outdated and ill-thought-out positions.”

“While I agree with most of the positions held by the NRA, I have come to believe that, while background checks would not stop every madman with a gun, it is at the very least a step in the right direction,” Gatlin said.

Country singers Lee Greenwood and Larry Stewart also withdrew, Variety reported.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Thursday that the NRA’s leaders “are contributing to the problem of gun violence and not trying to solve it.” She accused them of representing the interests of gun manufacturers, “who are marketing weapons of war to young adults.”

Two Republican Texas lawmakers who had been scheduled speak Friday — U.S. Sen. John Cornyn and U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw — are no longer attending due to what their staffs said were changes in their schedules.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who was slated to attend, will instead address the convention by prerecorded video, his spokesman told The Dallas Morning News.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, was listed as a speaker, and Trump said Wednesday that he still intends to attend. South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, a Republican, also is sticking to her plans to speak Friday at the NRA event.

Though personal firearms are allowed at the convention, the NRA said guns would not be permitted during the session featuring Trump because of Secret Service security protocols.

Several groups have said they planned to stage protests outside of the convention center.

“This is not the time or the place to have this convention,” said Cesar Espinosa, executive director of FIEL, a Houston-based civil rights group that plans to participate in protests. “We must not just have thoughts and prayers from legislators, but rather we need action to address this public health crisis that is affecting our communities.”

Democrat Beto O’Rourke, who is challenging Abbott in the 2022 Texas governor’s race, said he would be attending a protest outside the convention Friday.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, a Democrat, said the city is obligated to host the NRA event, which has been under contract for more than two years. But he urged politicians to skip it.

“You can’t pray and send condolences on one day and then be going and championing guns on the next. That’s wrong,” Turner said.

Shannon Watts, the founder of gun-control group Moms Demand Action, said she was not surprised the NRA is not canceling its meeting.

“The real question now is which elected officials will choose to side with violence and go kiss the ring in Houston this weekend instead of siding with communities crying out for public safety,” Watts said.

___

David A. Lieb reported from Jefferson City, Missouri.

___

More on the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas: https://apnews.com/hub/school-shootings

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Former Bremerton High School assistant football coach Joe Kennedy answers questions after his legal...
Luis Andres Henao, The Associated Press

After Supreme Court backs Bremerton praying coach, no sweeping changes

Three months after the decision, there’s no sign that large numbers of coaches have been newly inspired to follow Joseph Kennedy’s high-profile example.
18 hours ago
(Photo Illustration by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)...
Associated Press

GOP candidate apologizes after antisemitic post surfaces

A GOP candidate for the Washington Legislature has acknowledged that a post he put on social media in 2020 is antisemitic.
18 hours ago
Associated Press

California care home sued over resident’s poisoning death

SAN MATEO, Calif. (AP) — The family of a woman who died after she was accidentally served dishwashing liquid as drinking juice at a San Francisco Bay Area care home sued the facility on Thursday. Trudy Maxwell, 93, was served an alkaline liquid “more toxic than Drano,” Niall McCarthy, an attorney for the family, said […]
18 hours ago
First responders with Orange County Fire Rescue use an inflatable boat to rescue a resident from a ...
Associated Press

Study finds that climate change added 10% to Ian’s rainfall

Climate change added at least 10% more rain to Hurricane Ian, a study prepared immediately after the storm shows. Thursday’s research, which is not peer-reviewed, compared peak rainfall rates during the real storm to about 20 different computer scenarios of a model with Hurricane Ian’s characteristics slamming into the Sunshine State in a world with […]
18 hours ago
Akie Abe, widow of former Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe, arrives with her husband's remains at...
Associated Press

AP Week in Pictures: Asia

Sept. 23-29, 2022 This photo gallery highlights some of the most compelling images made or published by Associated Press photographers in Asia and Pacific. The gallery was curated by AP photo editor Shuji Kajiyama in Tokyo. Follow AP visual journalism: Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/apnews AP Images on Twitter: http://twitter.com/AP_Images AP Images blog: http://apimagesblog.com Copyright © The Associated […]
18 hours ago
Associated Press

Bodies, most of downed floatplane recovered from Puget Sound

SEATTLE (AP) — The bodies of some of the 10 victims and most of a floatplane that crashed in Washington state’s Puget Sound earlier this month have been recovered. Island County Emergency Management confirmed Thursday that multiple bodies were recovered, but Deputy Director Eric Brooks said he wasn’t yet able to confirm the number, The […]
18 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
NRA stages big gun show in Texas days after school massacre