Governor Greg Abbott announced Thursday evening that instead of speaking at the NRA convention Friday, he will be in Uvalde and would provide a pre-recorded message to the Houston gathering.
On Friday morning, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick pulled out of his convention slot, saying, “After prayerful consideration and discussion with NRA officials, I have decided not to speak at the NRA breakfast this morning.”
“While a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and an NRA member, I would not want my appearance today to bring any additional pain or grief to the families and all those suffering in Uvalde. This is a time to focus on the families, first and foremost.”
According to a spokesman, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) had pulled out of the NRA appearance before the Uvalde shooting for “personal reasons” that caused an “unexpected change in his schedule.”
The senior senator also said he jumpstarted discussions with Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) on expanded gun purchase background checks — the likes of which stalled last year after the pair couldn’t agree on a proposal.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is scheduled to speak at the event, and nothing from his camp has indicated a change of plans. Former President Donald Trump is also set to appear at the event this weekend.
Congressman Dan Crenshaw (R-TX-02) canceled his appearance, citing a last-minute trip to Ukraine.
The 2021 NRA convention, also scheduled in Houston, was canceled as COVID-19 cases spiked last summer. Its 2020 meeting was also postponed due to the coronavirus.
A statement on the Uvalde shooting from the nation’s largest gun-rights group read, “Our deepest sympathies are with the families and victims involved in this horrific and evil crime.”
“Although an investigation is underway and facts are still emerging, we recognize this was the act of a lone, deranged criminal. 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.”
When asked about the gathering, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner responded, “Canceling the convention would leave the City subject to a number of legal issues.”
“The greater question is why are elected officials speaking there, and what message does that send. You can’t pray and send condolences on one day and go and champion guns on the next.”
Houston has canceled large gatherings before, such as the Republican Party of Texas’ 2020 convention, using the force majeure clause to break the contract for COVID-19 concerns — a decision that is still being litigated two years later.
An intra-organization fight for control is among the items on the NRA’s convention agenda. Earlier this month, former Texas GOP Chair Allen West, whose gubernatorial bid ended only three months ago, announced he’d challenge Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre for that top executive position.
The organization is embroiled in legal issues over alleged unscrupulous dealings by Pierre, causing a group within the organization to draft West to run for the position.
The convention kicks off Friday and continues through Sunday at the George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston.
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Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.