Texas Gov. Greg Abbot will skip Friday’s National Rifle Association convention in Houston and return to Uvalde amid pressure to pull out of his scheduled appearance in the wake of Tuesday’s elementary school shooting that claimed 21 lives.
Despite not attending the convention, Abbot was still planning on “addressing the NRA through prerecorded video,” a spokesman told The Dallas Morning News.
The governor’s change in plans came after he was slammed from both sides of the aisle for reportedly holding a fundraiser in the hours after the senseless massacre at Robb Elementary School.
The pre-planned afternoon NRA appearance was reportedly absent from Abbot’s official schedule, which was released by his office Thursday night. A 3:30 p.m. press conference “on [the] state’s ongoing efforts to support the Uvalde community” was listed instead.
A schedule released by the NRA Leadership Forum reportedly showed Abbot was slated to speak at 2:37 p.m., after the gun lobby’s CEO Wayne LaPierre.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and former President Donald Trump were among the other GOP leaders expected to speak at the event.
Abbot, 64, had appeared in the tight-knit town of 16,000 a day after a deranged teenager killed 19 children and two teachers at the Uvalde school with an assault weapon he bought legally.
The two-term governor — who last year approved a measure that would let unlicensed and untrained Texans carry guns in public — said that stricter gun laws in Texas would not have stopped the shooting.
Abbot was confronted by his Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke, who interrupted his press conference to call out his gun politics.
“This is on you,” the gubernatorial hopeful said. “You are offering up nothing. You said this was not predictable. This was totally predictable when you choose not to do anything.”
“We need all Texans to, in this one moment in time, put aside personal agendas, think of somebody other than ourselves, think about the people that were hurt!,” Abbot fired back.
O’Rourke announced he would be in Houston to “rally against gun violence” with Democratic leaders and teachers on Friday as the convention got underway.