NRA slammed for holding annual convention in Texas 72 hours after school shooting

One of America’s most powerful lobby groups has been whipped for an insensitive and indecent event that Donald Trump will attend.

Just 72 hours after a tragic elementary school shooting in Texas, America’s most powerful gun lobby is holding its annual convention in the same state.

On Friday, the National Rifle Association (NRA) will hold its annual leadership forum in Houston, Texas, with former President Donald Trump headlining.

The convention will take place just three days after 18-year-old Salvador Ramos walked into Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, and opened fire, killing 19 children between the ages of seven and 10, along with two teachers.

The massacre was the 27th school shooting to occur in the United States this year alone. The two assault rifles used by Ramos had been purchased the previous week, days after his 18th birthday.

In addition to Mr. Trump, controversial Senator Ted Cruz is also expected to attend the NRA convention. Meanwhile, Texas Governor (and staunch gun rights advocate) Greg Abbott has yet to confirm his attendance.

American Pie singer Don McLean was scheduled to perform at the event but pulled out following the shooting.

“I decided it would be disrespectful and hurtful for me to play,” McLean said in a statement.

“I’m sure everyone planning to attend this event is equally shocked and sickened by these events.”

The convention has drawn national criticism for its insensitivity to victims and their families. The NRA billed the event as a “freedom-filled weekend” celebrating “the latest weapons and gear,” and attended by Second Amendment patriots.

Following Tuesday’s shooting, the NRA released a statement expressing its “deepest condolences” to the families and victims, adding that the organization “will reflect on these events.”

However, the statement fell on deaf ears.

Texas gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke called on Mr Abbott to boycott the event and said the convention should be moved.

“Governor Abbott, if you have any decency, you will immediately withdraw from this weekend’s NRA convention and urge them to hold it anywhere but Texas,” he tweeted.

Mr O’Rourke made global headlines when he interrupted a press conference held by Mr Abbott, where he blasted some politicians’ hesitation and opposition to gun reform.

“The time has come to stop the next shoot and you do nothing!” Mr O’Rourke shouted at Mr Abbott during the televised briefing with a slew of other Texas officials.

After being ejected from the room, Mr O’Rourke continued his remarks by addressing reporters outside.

“The majority of Texas is not reflected by this governor or these people around the table who talk about mental health care and say it’s pure evil but it’s completely unpredictable.

“It’s predictable. It will happen and it will continue to happen until we change course.

Mr. O’Rourke’s words reflect a long struggle the United States has had with gun regulation and reform. A cornerstone of the problem is the NRA’s influence over politicians, especially the Republican Party.

What is the ANR?

As its name suggests, the NRA represents the free ownership of guns and firearms as provided for in the Second Amendment to the US Constitution.

Created in the shadow of the American Civil War, it states: “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

The impact on gun reform by gun lobbies, of which the NRA is the most prominent, has been well documented and heavily criticized. The lobby groups have ties to America’s multibillion-dollar gun industries, and they support Republican and right-wing candidates who advocate anti-gun control measures at the state and federal level.

In 2020, Fortune reports that the NRA has spent more than $12 million (A$17 million) campaigning against Joe Biden and another $4.5 million (A$6.3 million) campaigning for Donald Trump . In 2021, pro-gun groups spent a record $15.8m (A$22m) on lobbying and campaign contributions.

“Where is our backbone?” : Joe Biden’s appeal to the United States

Even US President Joe Biden referenced gun lobbies in his address to the nation, imploring politicians to “turn this pain into action”.

“Where in God’s name is our backbone, have the courage to face this and stand up to the [gun] lobbies? ” he said.

“When, in the name of God, will we do what we all know we must do? »

This is not the first time Mr. Biden has struggled to implement gun regulatory reform. He was vice president (during Barack Obama’s presidency) when the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre took place in Newtown, Connecticut.

This shooting killed 20 children aged six and seven, as well as six teachers. At the time, Mr Biden was leading a task force to try to reduce gun violence.

In the wake of the tragedy, then-US President Barack Obama tried to pass legislation calling for stricter background checks on gun purchases and restrictions on the sale of certain guns. types of weapons and ammunition.

However, the bill was defeated in the Senate, where Congress voted against the tougher measures. Today, reports Gun Violence Archive in less than 10 years, the United States has suffered more than 2,500 mass shootings since Sandy Hook.

Speaking on Tuesday, Mr Biden said ‘common sense gun laws’ work, referring to the Federal Assault Weapons (AWB) ban which lasted from 1994 and expired in 2004 .

It prohibited the manufacture for civilian use of certain semi-automatic weapons as well as certain ammunition magazines defined as large capacity.

“When we passed the assault weapons ban, mass shootings went down. When the law expired, the mass shootings tripled,” Biden said.

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