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NRA stages big gun show in Texas days after school massacre

Published:Friday | May 27, 2022 | 1:33 AM

HOUSTON (AP):

The National Rifle Association (NRA) begins its annual convention in Houston on Friday, and leaders of the powerful gun-rights lobbying group are gearing up to “reflect on” – and deflect any blame for – the deadly shooting earlier this week of 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

Former President Donald Trump and other leading Republicans are scheduled to address the three-day firearms marketing and advocacy event, which is expected to draw protesters fed up with gun violence.

Some scheduled speakers and performers have backed out, including two Texas lawmakers and American Pie singer Don McLean, who said “it would be disrespectful” to go ahead with his act in the aftermath of the country’s latest mass shooting.

While President Joe Biden and Democrats in Congress have renewed calls for stricter gun laws, NRA board member Phil Journey said the focus should be on better mental health care and trying to prevent gun violence. He said he wouldn’t support banning or limiting access to firearms.

The NRA said in an online statement that people attending the gun show will “reflect on” the Uvalde school shooting, “pray for the victims, recognise our patriotic members, and pledge to redouble our commitment to making our schools secure.”

People planning to attend picked up registration badges Thursday and shopped for NRA souvenirs, such as T-shirts that say ‘Suns Out Guns Out’. Police already had set up metal barriers across the street from the convention centre, at a park where protesters are expected to gather Friday.

Gary Francis travelled with his wife and friends from Racine, Wisconsin, to attend the NRA meeting. He said he opposed any gun control regulations in response to the Uvalde shooting.

“What happened there is obviously tragic,” he said. “But the NRA had nothing to do with it. The people who come here had nothing to do with it.”