Gun Owners, Protesters Meet at NRA Convention

Trump tells members mental health is the issue
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted May 27, 2022 6:08 PM CDT
Mental Health Is the Issue, Trump Tells NRA Convention
Evelyn Haggard, center, 7, holds up a sign while protesting at the National Rifle Association's meeting in Houston.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

(Newser) – Thousands of gun owners and protesters converged in Houston on Friday for the kickoff of the National Rifle Association's convention, a divide heightened by the massacre at a Texas elementary school on Tuesday. Despite the slayings, the NRA billed the event as "a freedom-filled weekend for the entire family," NBC News reports, and the organization's website said 70,000 people were expected to attend. Entertainers and some Republican political leaders canceled their appearances after the killings, but the convention still began with speeches from NRA executive Wayne LaPierre and former President Donald Trump. "Every NRA member is in mourning," LaPierre said in the opening speech.

"We must protect our schools," LaPierre said, as well as fully fund police departments and "our nation’s broken mental health system." Trump made similar arguments, per the AP, urging "a top-to-bottom security overhaul at schools across this country" and new approaches to mental health treatment, while rejecting any restrictions on gun ownership. "The existence of evil in our world is not a reason to disarm law-abiding citizens," he said. "The existence of evil is one of the very best reasons to arm law-abiding citizens."

Individuals and organizations protested outside the convention center. Several children had photos around their necks of students killed at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, with one holding a sign asking, "Am I next?" Some yelled "Murderers!" in Spanish, others "Shame on you!" at people attending the convention. Among the convention attendees, some wore T-shirts displaying the type of weapon used on the Texas children. The protesters included singer Little Joe of the Tejano band Little Joe y La Familia. He said he's toured the world for more than 60 years without seeing a country with as many mass shootings as the US has. "Of course, this is the best country in the world," he said, per the AP. "But what good does it do us if we can’t protect lives, especially of our children?" (Read more National Rifle Association stories.)

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