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NRA meets in Texas amid protests after school massacre – Boston News, Weather, Sports

HOUSTON (AP) — The executive director of the National Rifle Association on Friday opened the group’s annual convention in Houston to vigorously defend gun owners’ rights, three days after a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers at an elementary school across the state had killed .

As protesters shouted outside, Wayne LaPierre said tragedies like the Uvalde shooting “should never happen again”. He explained: “Every NRA member and I know that every decent American is grieving right now. Twenty-one beautiful lives ruthlessly and indiscriminately wiped out by a criminal monster.”

Still, he added that “restricting the basic human rights of law-abiding Americans to defend themselves is not the answer. It never was.”

The several hundred people in the auditorium stood and bowed their heads in a moment of silence for the victims of the Uvalde school shooting. There were many empty seats.

Former President Donald Trump and other Republican leaders lined up to speak later at the event. Hundreds of protesters angry at gun violence demonstrated outside, including some holding crosses with photos of victims of the shooting.

With the protesters, Democrat Beto O’Rourke, who is challenging Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in the gubernatorial race, ticked off a list of past school shootings and urged attendees to “join us to make sure that this doesn’t happen again in this country.”

“The time to stop Uvalde was right after Sandy Hook,” O’Rourke said. “The time we stopped Uvalde was right after Parkland. The time we stopped Uvalde was right after Santa Fe High School. The time for us to stop the next mass shooting in this country is right now, right here, today with each and every one of us.”

Some scheduled speakers and performers withdrew from the event, including several Texas lawmakers and “American Pie” singer Don McLean, who said “it would be disrespectful” to continue his show after the recent mass shooting in the country. Dan Patrick, Lt. gov. of Texas said Friday morning he decided not to speak at an event breakfast after “prayerful consideration and discussion with NRA officials.”

The NRA said gun show attendees would “reflect” on the Uvalde school shooting, “pray for the victims, recognize our patriotic members and pledge to redouble our commitment to keeping our schools safe.”

The meeting is the first for the ailing organization since 2019, after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic. The organization has attempted to regroup after a period of serious legal and financial turmoil These included a failed bankruptcy attempt, a class action lawsuit and a fraud investigation by the New York Attorney General. Once one of the most powerful political organizations in the country, the NRA has seen its influence dwindle after a significant drop in political spending.

While President Joe Biden and Democrats in Congress have renewed calls for stricter gun laws after the Uvalde killing spree, NRA executives and other attendees at the conference dismissed talk of banning or restricting access to firearms.

Larry Miller, 56, of Huntington Beach, Calif., said he had no problem with the NRA meeting taking place so soon after the Uvalde shooting. He called the shooting “very sad and unfortunate” and said the shooter had “no respect for the freedoms of the people that we have here in this country”.

“We all share these rights. So respecting other people’s rights means respecting other people’s lives and I think with that kind of mentality we should be here,” he said.

Samuel Thornburg, 43, a maintenance worker at Southwest Airlines in Houston who attended the NRA meeting, said, “Guns are not evil. It’s the people who commit the crime that are evil. Our schools need to be more closed. It needs more guards.”

Inside the convention hall, thousands of people walked around and stopped at booths displaying handguns, rifles, AR-style firearms, knives, clothing and gun racks. Outside, police set up metal barriers in a large park where hundreds of protesters and counter-protesters gathered in front of the downtown convention center.

“Murderer!” some shouted in Spanish. “Shame on you!” others shouted at the participants.

Among the protesters was singer Little Joe of the popular Tejano band Little Joe y La Familia, who said that in the more than 60 years he’s been touring the world, no other country he’s been to has had so many mass shootings faced like the US

“Of course this is the best country in the world. But what good is it to us if we cannot protect life, especially that of our children?” he said.

Texas experienced one Series of mass shootings in recent years. During this time, the Republican-led Legislature and the Governor relaxed gun laws.

There is precedent for the NRA to rally amid local grief and controversy. The organization held an abridged version of their 1999 Denver meeting about a week after the fatal shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado. Actor Charlton Heston, then NRA President, told attendees that “horrible acts” should not become opportunities to curtail constitutional rights and condemned critics for labeling NRA members as “bad guys”.

Country singer Larry Gatlin, who has pulled out of a scheduled appearance at this year’s convention, said he hopes “the NRA will reconsider some of its outdated and ill-considered positions.”

“While I agree with most of the NRA’s positions, I’ve come to believe that while background checks wouldn’t stop every madman with a gun, it’s at least a step in the right direction,” Gatlin said.

Country singers Lee Greenwood and Larry Stewart also retired. variety reported.

Most US adults believe mass shootings would be less frequent if guns were harder to obtain and believe schools and other public places have become less safe than they were two decades ago, polls show.

There is also majority support for many specific measures that would limit access to arms or ammunition. For example, a May AP-NORC poll found that 51% of US adults support a nationwide ban on the sale of AR-15 rifles and similar semi-automatic weapons. But the numbers are very partisan: 75% of Democrats agree, versus just 27% of Republicans.

In addition to Patrick, two Texas congressmen who were scheduled to speak Friday — US Senator John Cornyn and US Rep. Dan Crenshaw — dropped out because their staffers said it was due to changes in their schedules. Abbott, who was scheduled to attend, was scheduled to speak at the convention using recorded video instead.

But others continued to make appearances, including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, and Trump, who said Wednesday he would be delivering “an important address to America.”

Although personal firearms are permitted at the convention, the NRA said guns are not allowed during the meeting with Trump due to Secret Service security protocols.

(Copyright (c) 2022 Sunbeam Television. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed.)

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https://whdh.com/news/nra-meets-in-texas-amid-protests-after-school-massacre/ NRA meets in Texas amid protests after school massacre – Boston News, Weather, Sports

Nate Jones

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