The National Rifle Association on Wednesday recommitted to holding its annual convention this weekend in Houston after a mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, that killed at least 21 people.
Texas politicians and former President Donald Trump are to address a leadership forum sponsored by the NRA’s lobbying arm.
Trump is expected to speak at Friday’s event where members of the public will not be allowed to carry firearms. The Secret Service will take control of the room during Trump’s speech and will not allow firearms, gun accessories or knives, among other things, according to the NRA.
“Although an investigation is ongoing and facts are still emerging, we recognize that this is the act of a lone and deranged criminal,” he added. the NRA said in a statement. “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 securing our schools.”
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Trump said Wednesday he would “deliver an important address to America” at the event.
“America needs real solutions and real leadership right now, not politicians and partisanship,” Trump said on his social media network.
The forum is expected to include Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Senator Ted Cruz and Representative Dan Crenshaw of Texas, North Carolina Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson and South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem.
Abbott, speaking at a press conference that was eventually interrupted by Texas gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke, declined to say whether he would attend or speak at the convention.
“As far as future plans go, I’m living moment to moment right now,” Abbott said. “My heart, my head and my body are in Uvalde right now.”
Texas Senator John Cornyn was also scheduled to speak but will no longer be present due to an “unexpected change” in his schedule, local broadcaster WFAA reported.
Musician Don McLean, who was scheduled to perform at the rally, also pulled out of the convention. The “American Pie” singer-songwriter released a statement saying it would be “hurtful and ‘disrespectful’ for him to happen.
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Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said some people wanted the city to cancel the meeting, but Turner said the city could not break the contract with the NRA.
The bigger question, Turner said, is why Texas politicians are still planning to speak there after the Uvalde shooting.
“So it’s not about canceling the convention,” Turner said. “These are elected officials at the highest levels of our state who are going to speak and endorse these policies, and that is wrong. And you can’t pray and send your condolences one day and defend arms the next day. It’s wrong.”
More coverage of the Texas school shooting by USA TODAY
Contribute: The Associated Press