HOUSTON – As the discussion on gun laws are once again at the center of attention following another deadly mass shooting in America, many people were questioning if the National Rifle Association would cancel its annual meeting in Houston.
The NRA released a statement after an 18-year-old gunman opened fire Tuesday at a Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, killing at least 19 children and two teachers.
The statement reads the following:
“Our deepest sympathies are with the families and victims involved in this horrific and evil crime. On behalf of our members, we salute the courage of school officials, first responders and others who offered their support and services.
“Although an investigation is underway and facts are still emerging, we recognize this was the act of a lone, deranged criminal. As we gather in Houston, we will reflect on these events, pray for the victims, recognize our patriotic members, and pledge to redouble our commitment to making our schools secure.”
From the release, the organization plans to address the deadly shooting at the event, calling the gunman a deranged criminal.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner also addressed canceling the convention.
“Canceling the convention would leave the city subject to a number of legal issues. The greater question is why are elected officials speaking there? What message does that send?” Turner asked.
Cesar Espinosa is the Executive Director of FIEL. His organization is one of several that are planning to protest the start of the convention.
“We find it unfathomable that these folks are still willing to celebrate gun culture when gun culture just took the lives of more than 18 children,” Espinosa said.
Black Lives Matter Houston, Moms Demand Action an Interfaith group, and healthcare workers are also planning protests Friday at noon.
“Maybe not cancel it but at least postpone it to a later time when this is not so fresh in people’s memories,” Espinosa said.
Turner has asked all protesters to assemble non-violently.
The NRA has not announced any changes to the event, although Republican Sen. John Cornyn, who was slated to speak at the conference, will no longer be in attendance.
KPRC 2 reached out to Cornyn’s office on why he decided to pull out from speaking at the convention.
According to his press secretary, “Prior to the tragedy in Uvalde, we had already informed the NRA he would not be able to speak due to an unexpected change in his schedule. He has to be in D.C. for personal reasons on Friday.”
The Houston Police Department is the lead agency providing security for the event. The Department of Public Safety said its troopers and special agents will provide assistance to HPD.