The largest promoter of the free availability of military-style weapons in the United States will continue with plans to host its’ annual convention in Houston, Texas this weekend, less than 300 miles away from the elementary school where a gunman murdered 19 children and two adults on Thursday.
Former president Donald Trump, Texas Governor Greg Abbott, and Senator Ted Cruz are set to headline the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting, which is schedule to open on Friday and continue through Sunday at a Houston convention centre.
In a statement posted on his “Truth Social” app, Mr Trump announced that he would keep his “longtime commitment” to speak at the convention, where he said he’d deliver “an important address to America”.
“America needs real solutions and real leadership in this moment, not politicians and partisanship,” said the twice-impeached ex-president. He added that in “the meantime,” he would “continue to pray for the victims, their families, and for our entire nation”.
The pro-gun group has been a reliable supporter of Republican politicians for decades, providing massive amounts of financial support for GOP candidates at all levels. In return, those politicians have embraced policies that have allowed Americans to have easy access to the same military-style weapons used in Tuesday’s Uvalde, Texas massacre, as well as the mass shooting in which 10 people died in Buffalo, New York earlier this month.
While Democrats, including President Joe Biden, have vowed to mount yet another push for stricter gun laws in the wake of the second most deadly school shooting in US history, Mr Cruz said any sort of change to gun laws was not going to happen.
“Inevitably when there’s a murder of this kind, you see politicians try to politicize it, you see Democrats and a lot of folks in the media whose immediate solution is to try to restrict the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens,” Mr Cruz said Tuesday while speaking to reporters just hours after the massacre. “That doesn’t work. It’s not effective. It doesn’t prevent crime.”
Mr Abbott has been a strong proponent of loosening any and all restrictions on firearm ownership during his time as Texas’ governor and recently signed into law a bill that eliminated state background checks for firearm purchases and allows anyone old enough to own a firearm to carry it without any training or need for a permit.
He has also signed legislation prohibiting Texas law enforcement officers from cooperating with any federal investigation into violations of federal firearms laws.
His Democratic opponent in November’s general election, ex-Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke, called for Mr Abbott to call off his appearance at the NRA convention.
In a tweet posted Wednesday, Mr O’Rourke said: “If you have any decency, you will immediately withdraw from this weekend’s NRA convention and urge them to hold it anywhere but Texas”.