At NRA forum, Trump mocks GOP leaders who didn’t attend

The National Rifle Association Convention holds its annual convention in Houston, the same state where 19 children and two adults were killed when a a shooter opened fire in a primary school tuesday.

About 80,000 people are expected to attend the NRA forum, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said. This week’s conference marks the first time in two years that it has taken place, after the COVID-19 pandemic prompted its cancellation. Following the Uvalde shooting, attendees told CBS News’ Robert Costa that “guns are never responsible” and that “a gun is a tool.”

“We have a problem – people with mental illness fall through the cracks,” said participant Steve Speck.

A slew of Texas lawmakers were expected to be there, including Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, although Abbott announced late Thursday that he would no longer be attending in person and would address the convention via pre-recorded video. Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick announced Friday morning that he would also be skipping the NRA forum in the wake of the Uvalde shooting.

In his pre-recorded remarks, Abbott spoke about the Uvalde shooting. And during his press conference in Uvalde, he said he was “livid” at having been “deceivedby officials about the reaction when the shooter entered the building.

Former President Donald Trump still appeared at the convention despite the absences of Abbott, Patrick and other politicians. Without mentioning them by name, Trump said “unlike some others, I didn’t disappoint you by not showing up today.”

After that sweep, Trump read out the names of the victims of the Uvalde shooting, which was followed by a gong. He touched on some of the themes put forward earlier by Senator Ted Cruz – blaming broken families and mental illness. He called for a single point of entry for school security and argued that “gun-free zones” in schools make them unsafe.

He called for immunity from prosecution for police and praised law enforcement who he said “arrested the Texas shooter.”

National Rifle Association (NRA) Annual Convention in Houston, Texas
A sign for the National Rifle Association (NRA) annual convention sits inside the George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston, Texas, U.S. May 26, 2022.


Trump took the stage to a man who had stopped a shooting at a church in White Settlement, Texas in 2019. Jack Wilson said he “didn’t kill — I took out the evil.” Wilson praised Trump saying “you are still our president.”

After Wilson’s remarks, Trump returned to talking about his tenure and criticizing the Biden administration. He insisted the Second Amendment was “under siege” and gloomily predicted that new gun control laws would be the “first step” because they want “total gun confiscation”, although no proposed gun control measures require it.

Trump claimed he had “saved” cities such as Minneapolis, Kenosha, Seattle and Chicago during protests and received some of his biggest cheers when he told the crowd: “If I did it again – run for president and win – I wouldn’t make him feel pressured to do it that way again.”

Cruz argued that tougher gun laws would not prevent mass shootings. He focused on societal issues – “chronic isolation”, “broken homes”, “absent fathers” and “social media bullying”.

Two top Republican state lawmakers, Sen. John Cornyn and Rep. Dan Crenshaw, also pulled out of the NRA rally — Cornyn said he had a scheduling conflict and Crenshaw was still at the meeting. out of the country on a trip to Ukraine. , said his office FoxNews.

Several of the musicians scheduled to perform 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 nationwide calls — especially among Democrats — for tougher gun control laws. fire. A few hours after the shooting, President Joe Biden said“When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby?”

A bipartisan group of senators met Thursday and plan to continue working on a consensus gun safety bill over the holidays, likely focusing on red flag and yellow flag laws.

A CBS News Poll taken after the Buffalo shootings but before the Uvalde massacre showed that a slim majority of Americans want tougher gun control laws, although opinion is divided along partisan lines.

There were several protests on Friday, including one across the street that began shortly before the convention doors opened. The protest, already organized by Black Lives Matter Houston, included a surprise guest Thursday night: former U.S. Representative Beto O’Rourke, who is challenging Abbott for governor. O’Rourke, who supports more gun laws, confronted Abbott earlier this week about the lack of gun laws in the state, which has seen five high-profile mass shootings in five years. O’Rourke was then kicked out of the press event.

O’Rourke offered a message of unity at Friday’s protest, telling conference attendees “you are not our enemies and we are not yours.” But he reserved his harshest words for NRA leaders and the politicians they “bought”.

“We’ll beat you and we’ll beat you and we’ll leave you behind,” O’Rourke said.

The NRA donates more than $15 million to political candidates each year, and while that number is down from years past, it’s still five times what gun control groups donate.

Turner, a Democrat, said Wednesday he “just can’t cancel the convention” since the NRA had all of its permits in order.

“The convention has been on the books for over two years,” the mayor of Houston said, according to CBS Houston Affiliate KHOU. “It’s a contractual arrangement. We simply cannot cancel a conference or convention because we disagree with the subject.”

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

Melvin B. Baillie