The National Rifle Association recommitted Wednesday to holding its annual convention over the 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 scheduled to address a leadership forum sponsored by the NRA’s lobbying arm.
Trump is set to speak at the event on Friday where audience members will not be allowed to carry guns. The Secret Service will take control of the hall during Trump’s speech and will not permit firearms, firearm accessories or knives, among other items, according to the NRA.
That policy predates the Uvalde school shooting and the same parameters were in place when then-Vice President Mike Pence made an appearance at the 2018 convention.
The NRA released a statement Wednesday saying the convention would go on as scheduled.
“Although an investigation is underway and facts are still emerging, we recognize this was the act of a lone, deranged criminal,” 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 making our schools secure.”
Trump said Wednesday that he’ll “deliver an important address to America” at the event.
“America needs real solutions and real leadership in this moment, not politicians and partisanship,” Trump posted on his social media network.
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The forum was scheduled to include Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Texas, North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem.
Abbott’s office said late Thursday that he would deliver a pre-recorded message to NRA convention attendees and instead spend that time on the ground in Uvalde.
Crenshaw and Texas Sen. John Cornyn, another scheduled speaker, both canceled their appearances due to changes in their schedules.
Musician Don McLean, who was scheduled to perform at the gathering, also pulled out of the convention. The “American Pie” singer-songwriter released a statement saying it would be “hurtful and “disrespectful” for him to perform.
►How to help: Here’s how you can help those affected by the Texas school shooting in Uvalde
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said some people want the city to cancel the meeting, but Turner said the city can’t break the contract with the NRA.
The greater question, Turner said, is why Texas politicians still plan to speak there after the shooting in Uvalde.
“So, it’s not about us canceling the convention,” Turner said. “It’s about elected officials at the highest level in our state going and speaking and endorsing those policies, and that’s wrong. And you can’t pray and send condolences on one day and then be going and championing guns on the next. That’s wrong.”