NRA annual meeting meets with growing protests as three-day convention kicks off

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — On Thursday, people began heading to the George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston for the annual meetings of the National Rifle Association (NRA).

On Thursday afternoon, on-site registration began for the event that is expected to bring up to 80,000 people to Houston.

Meanwhile, a mile away from the convention center, across from City Hall, a dozen people gathered to protest the event, as there is growing opposition to the NRA going ahead with its planned annual meetings after the horrific shooting. in Uvalde for two days. behind.

“If the city can cancel the rodeo for public health, isn’t this a public safety issue?” said Neil Aquino, one of the people who showed up to protest.

Polly Johnson, another protester, said, “I strongly believe that Mayor Turner should cancel the NRA convention.”

Mayor Sylvester Turner said the city could not cancel the event due to a binding legal contract. Turner, along with other city leaders, held a news conference Thursday afternoon saying they are prepared for the convention and the protests.

“We’re going to have enough officers to deal with whatever we need to deal with right away,” said Houston Police Chief Troy Finner, showing a map of designated protest and counter-protest zones outside the convention center.

Turner asked people to remain peaceful and admonished those planning to attend.

“There comes a time when people have to realize that it’s disrespectful to talk about guns when 19 children have died,” Turner said.

The guest list for the event is changing. On Thursday, artists Lee Greenwood, Don McLean and Larry Gatlin, who were set to perform at the gathering, walked out in light of the massacre. Republican Congressman Dan Crenshaw and Sen. John Cornyn walked out a few days ago, before the Uvalde shooting. Crenshaw is in the Ukraine and Cornyn has a scheduling conflict.

Former President Donald Trump confirmed in a statement that he will attend the convention, and on Thursday, a spokesman for Sen. Ted Cruz said Cruz will also be there.

ABC13 has contacted Gov. Greg Abbott’s office several times about his plans, but we have not heard back.

Anthony Segura, an NRA trainer in Houston from New Mexico to attend the conference, says what happened in Uvalde hit him hard since his daughter-in-law is a teacher.

“I can honestly say that two nights ago, I didn’t sleep all night thinking about it,” Segura said. “Everybody blames the gun. Everybody blames the NRA. You know, we’re not the bad guys. Our main emphasis is on safety and training.”

John Thoesen, another attendee, said: “We’re as sorry as anyone else. We don’t want this to happen. All we’re trying to say is blame the gun, blame the people who own guns, the law-abiding gun.” Owners of this country, we are not the cause of this problem.”

A protest organized by several local groups is scheduled for Friday from noon to three on Discovery Green.

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