NRA Scheduled To Hold Annual Meeting In Houston Just Days After Massacre At Texas Elementary School (2nd UPDATE ADDED)
[guest post by Dana]
Three days after the mass shooting in Uvdale, Texas that saw 19 children and two adults killed, the National Rifle Association will hold its annual convention in Houston:
Donald Trump is still scheduled to speak at an NRA meeting in Houston…The former president is set to join fellow Republicans, including Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Senator Ted Cruz, and Congressman Dan Crenshaw, at the annual NRA Institute for Legislative Action Leadership Forum over the weekend.
The pro-gun lobbyist group is still intending on holding on the meeting at the George R. Brown Convention Center from Friday to Sunday, despite the massacre at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde.
Michael Heckman, CEO of Houston First, the government corporation that oversees the convention center, said he was not aware of any plans to cancel the event or change the schedule in the wake of the school shooting.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said that the NRA meeting will be held in Houston as scheduled because if they were to renege on the contract, “it would open the city up to a number of lawsuits”:
“The convention has been on the books for more than two years,” Turner said during Wednesday’s City Council meeting. “It’s a contractual arrangement. We simply cannot cancel a conference or convention because we do not agree with the subject matter.”
The NRA’s website continues to promote the upcoming event:
The Exhibit Hall is open all three days and will showcase over 14 acres of the latest guns and gear from the most popular companies in the Industry…Make plans now to join fellow Second Amendment patriots for a freedom-filled weekend for the entire family as we celebrate Freedom, Firearms, and the Second Amendment!
After the massacre, the NRA tweeted this:
— NRA (@NRA) May 25, 2022
Meanwhile, Rep. Sheila Lee Jackson, who represents Houston in Texas’s 18th congressional district, has called on the NRA to cancel its event in light of the massacre. I rarely agree with her on anything, but I do agree with the representative on this: “It’s not the time” for the event to be held.
Also, Sen. Chuck Schumer, who was all about bringing gun control measures to the floor today, announced that it would not be happening:
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) told colleagues on the Senate floor Wednesday that he will not immediately bring gun control measures to the floor in the wake of two mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, Texas, because he doesn’t expect them to muster enough Republican votes to pass.
Instead, the Democratic leader said he will wait for Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and other members of his caucus to try to negotiate a bipartisan compromise with Republicans on a measure that has a better chance of securing 60 votes to overcome a filibuster.
“There are some who want this body to quickly vote on sensible gun safety legislation, legislation supported by the vast majority of Americans,” he said. “They want to see this body vote quickly so the American people can know which side each senator is on …. I’m sympathetic to that, and I believe that accountability votes are important.”
But Schumer said he thought that bringing gun-control legislation in the immediate aftermath of Buffalo and Uvalde, where two lone shooters left a total of 31 people dead in the span of 10 days, would be fruitless because of staunch Republican opposition to such reforms.
As with Sheila Jackson Lee, I can’t remember agreeing with Schumer on much of anything, but I have to say I agree with him on this, regardless of his posturing:
“If the slaughter of schoolchildren can’t convince Republicans to buck the NRA, what can we do?” he said, referring to the National Rifle Association.
I believe the optics of the NRA holding their convention this soon after the shooting and this close to Uvalde are horrible. Nothing like rubbing salt into an unspeakably raw wound.
I don’t know what the answer is with regard to getting current measures on the books enforced and establishing new safety measures. We’ve discussed tightening up red flag laws, increasing wait time for purchase, universal background checks, more available mental health outreach and treatment, an armed presence at schools (including teachers/staff), etc. But really, unless Texas raised the legal age to purchase firearms, would any of the above measures have prevented the 18-year-old with no criminal record from legally purchasing the two guns, 375 rounds of ammunition, and a tactical vest? As I said yesterday, I’m gutted by yet another school massacre where small children who had just barely begun to live their lives are now dead. In perusing the internet, it remains shocking that some gun advocates seem to feel that the imposition of having to wear a mask or the thought of having Ruby Bridges Goes To School read to elementary students is cause for a much more immediate and bigger response than the massacre of 19 children. I don’t get it.
In the face of the Second Amendment, America’s romance and reverence for guns, the staggering proliferation of guns in the U.S., and an increasing level of hostility and anger as a result of social upheaval and the massive political dysfunction of Washington, at the very least, let’s start here:
In 2018 Arizona Governor @DougDucey and his team analyzed the deadliest school shootings since Columbine. What did they find? A red flag law had a chance to stop every single one. Pass red flag laws. Now. https://t.co/Wh3VJMnOrV pic.twitter.com/i6uN0Jj0PZ
— David French (@DavidAFrench) May 25, 2022
UPDATE: As expected, protestgroups will be at the George R. Brown Convention Center where the NRA annual convention will be held this weekend in Houston. Several groups will be represented:
Ashton P Woods says they [NRA] are not welcome in his home town.
“These people are coming into our community. The city of Houston needs to kick them out,” said Woods, an activist and founder of Black Lives Matter Houston. “We have to be just as tough about these things as they are.”
Woods is helping organize one of several protests planned just outside the George R Brown Convention Center…
The goal of the Black Lives Matter protest, Woods said, is to “get loud” outside while powerful speakers take the podium inside. Woods said the issue of firearms was particularly important to the civil rights group that primarily tackles issues of police brutality in America.
“Whether it be death by suicide, death by cop, death by mass shooter, we need to control the access people have to deadly weapons,” Woods said. “These things are interconnected.”
Outside the convention center, multiple counter-demonstrations are expected in Houston – especially in light of a mass shooting that killed 19 children and two adults at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.
Hansen and Pecinovsky have organized an interfaith gathering that will include a silent march and a moment of reflection when organizers will read the names of those who died in Uvalde.
UPDATE 2: After facing pretty widespread criticism, it was announced that Texas Gov. Abbott will no longer be attending the NRA convention, but will instead be sending in a pre-recorded video address to attendees:
Abbott, 64, was originally slated to speak in person as the three-day event gets underway at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston.
But the Republican governor changed his plans after facing a widespread backlash for holding a fundraiser just hours after a gunman stormed into a Uvalde elementary school, killing 19 students and two teachers.
He will instead head to the site of Tuesday’s horrific school shooting to hold a press conference “on state’s ongoing efforts to support the Uvalde community.”
Also no longer attending the convention are several country music artists who were slated to perform this weekend.
And just this morning, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announced he is dropping out of speaking at the convention after giving it “prayerful consideration”.