NRA convention is held in Houston days after Uvalde mass shooting

(CBS) — The National Rifle Association Convention is holding its annual convention in Houston, located in the same state as Uvalde, where 19 children and two adults were killed when a gunman opened fire at an elementary school.

Former President Donald Trump is slated to address the convention in person on Friday. A slew of other Texas lawmakers were expected to be there, including Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, although Abbott is no longer attending in person and will address the convention by a pre-recorded video.

Late Thursday, Abbott announced that rather than attend the convention, he would hold a news conference Friday afternoon in Uvalde, which is scheduled to take place at about the same time Trump plans to speak. Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announced Friday morning that he, too, would not be in Houston for the NRA forum in the wake of the Uvalde shooting. 

Two high-profile Republican lawmakers from the state, Sen. John Cornyn and Rep. Dan Crenshaw, both backed out of the NRA gathering, too — Cornyn said he had a scheduling conflict and Crenshaw was still out of the country on a trip to Ukraine, his office told Fox News.

Several of the musicians scheduled to perform have also pulled out, including Don McLean and country singer Lee Greenwood.

In the wake of the deadly mass shooting, which happened about 300 miles from Houston, there have been calls nationally – especially among Democrats – for stricter gun control laws. Hours after the shooting, President Joe Biden said, “When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby?”

bipartisan group of senators met Thursday and plan to continue working on a consensus gun safety bill through the holiday break, likely focusing on red-flag and yellow-flag laws.

CBS News poll taken after the Buffalo mass shooting but before the Uvalde massacre showed that a slim majority of Americans want stricter gun control laws, although opinion was split along partisan lines.

Former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who is running for governor against Abbott, confirmed Thursday that he will be attending an anti-gun protest in Houston. O’Rourke confronted Abbott earlier this week about the lack of gun legislation in the state, which has seen five high-profile mass shootings in five years. O’Rourke was then kicked out of the press event.

The Democratic gubernatorial candidate is a frequent foe of gun rights supporters. Gun safety was central to his failed 2019 presidential run, during which he called for a mandatory buyback of AR-15s, the type of gun used in the Uvalde shooting.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, a Democrat, said Wednesday that he “simply cannot cancel the convention,” since the NRA had all its permits in order.

“The convention has been on the books for more than two years,” Turner said, according to CBS Houston affiliate KHOU. “It’s a contractual arrangement. We simply cannot cancel a conference or convention because we do not agree with the subject matter.”

National and local authorities are still investigating the details of Tuesday’s shooting. Authorities said the 18-year-old gunman purchased the weapons legally after his 18th birthday, shortly before the shooting. In Texas, rifles such as AR-15s and long guns can be purchased by 18-year-olds.

Categories: News, US