Protesters with placards and pictures of the victims of the Texas elementary school shooting staged a protest Friday outside the building in Houston where the National Rifle Association (NRA) annual convention was being held.
There were few people willing to attend the convention: the speeches of many of the delegate speakers went unappreciated, as did the musical numbers, as some 500 protesters, some of whom shouted “NRA – get out!” and “Shame on you! It could have been your children!” literally mocked everyone who entered the George R. R. Brown Convention Center. Brown.
Tuesday’s massacre of 19 students and two teachers in Yuvalde, Texas, by an 18-year-old gunman armed with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle has once again brought attention to the National Rifle Association (NRA), the nation’s largest gun lobby and a major campaign contributor to many members of Congress.
Video from the main auditorium of this Houston convention center, which seats about 3,600 people, showed it was about half full when former U.S. President Donald Trump took the stage late Friday night.
“The existence of evil in our world is no reason to disarm law-abiding citizens,” Trump told the audience to applause, echoing those who opposed background checks for gun purchases or bans on semiautomatic rifles.
Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz said in his remarks that people need guns to stay safe. “Giving up guns is not going to make the country safer,” he concluded.
In a pre-recorded video message, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said: “As Texans and as Americans, we grieve with these families.” He added that existing gun laws did not stop the Yuvalde shooter and rejected calls for a new law, saying that “no laws will stop lunatics from committing these atrocities.”
The NRA’s decision to hold its annual convention is part of the association’s multi-year strategy to oppose increased gun control. The convention was the association’s first annual meeting of five million people, after two previous cancellations due to the pandemic. Placards commemorating its 150th anniversary hung over the exhibit hall.