Texas Gov. Greg Abbott will skip the National Rifle Association’s annual convention Friday in the wake of the Robb Elementary School shooting — instead, opting to send a prerecorded video of his speech.
Abbott, 64, was originally slated to speak in person as the three-day event gets underway at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston.
But the Republican governor changed his plans after facing a widespread backlash for holding a fundraiser just hours after a gunman stormed into a Uvalde elementary school, killing 19 students and two teachers.
He will instead head to the site of Tuesday’s horrific school shooting to hold a press conference “on state’s ongoing efforts to support the Uvalde community.”
Abbott, however, is not the only one skipping the controversial convention this year.
Two GOP Texas lawmakers who had been scheduled to speak — Sen. John Cornyn and Rep. Dan Crenshaw — are no longer attending due to what their staff said were changes in their schedules.
The latest from the Texas school shooting
A number of musicians who were slated to perform at the three-day event pulled out, including “American Pie” singer Don McLean who said “it would be disrespectful” to go ahead with his act.
Country singers Larry Gatlin, Lee Greenwood and Larry Stewart also withdrew, with Gatlin saying he hopes “the NRA will rethink some of its outdated and ill-thought-out positions.”
The NRA said in an online statement that people attending the gun show will “reflect on” the Uvalde school shooting, “pray for the victims, recognize our patriotic members, and pledge to redouble our commitment to making our schools secure.”
Sen. Ted Cruz and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem are sticking to their plans to speak Friday at the leadership forum, which will open with remarks by NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre.
Former President Donald Trump is also scheduled to address the convention.
The NRA said guns would not be permitted during the session featuring Trump because of Secret Service security protocols.
Several groups have said they planned to stage protests outside of the convention center. Democrat Beto O’Rourke, who is challenging Abbott in the 2022 Texas governor’s race, said he would be attending one of the pro-gun control rallies.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, a Democrat, said the city is obligated to host the NRA event, which has been under contract for more than two years. But he urged politicians to skip it.
“You can’t pray and send condolences on one day and then be going and championing guns on the next. That’s wrong,” Turner said.
With Post Wires