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US’ biggest gun lobby gathers in Houston days after Texas school shooting

06:27 29 May 2022 Author :  

The US’ biggest gun lobby gathered Friday for its annual meeting in Houston, Texas, just days after a mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde stoked a fervent push to reduce gun violence and enforce firearms laws across the country.

Former President Donald Trump and some other prominent Republicans, including Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, spoke at the event hosted by the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) lobbying arm.

Some other Republican Party leaders, such as Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick canceled expected in-person appearances at the NRA meeting, according to CNN.

Trump delivered a headline speech in support of gun rights at the NRA convention.

“The existence of evil in our world is not a reason to disarm law-abiding citizens,” Voice of America quoted Trump as saying. “The existence of evil is one of the very best reasons to arm law-abiding citizens.”

Cruz, for his part, said: “Gun bans do not work. Look at Chicago. If they worked, Chicago wouldn’t be the murder hellhole that it has been for far too long.”

“As for so-called assault rifles, which the left and the media love to demonize, these guns were banned for 10 years from 1994 to 2004. And the Department of Justice examined the effect of the ban and concluded it had zero statistically significant effect on violent crime,” Cruz added.

Christopher Koper, the lead author of the Justice Department study Cruz was referring to, has disputed the Republican senator's characterization of his findings.

"My work is often cited in misleading ways that don’t give the full picture," Koper was previously​​​​​​​ quoted by The New York Times. "These laws can modestly reduce shootings overall."

The NRA event came three days after an 18-year-old gunman – wielding an AR-15-style long rifle that he had purchased legally – opened fire at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, killing 19 children and two teachers.

The massacre was recorded as the deadliest school shooting in Texas history.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said at a Thursday news conference that the NRA opted against delaying the convention until after the funerals for the victims in Uvalde, the Washington Post reported.

Gun safety advocates who have called for new measures in response to mass shootings this month in Texas and Buffalo, New York, including President Joe Biden, have reiterated their criticism of the NRA for rejecting repeated efforts to tighten firearm regulations to attempt to curb the carnage across the country.

Biden criticized the “gun lobby” in a speech on Tuesday night.

“Another massacre. Uvalde, Texas. An elementary school. Beautiful, innocent second, third and fourth graders. And how many scores of little children who witnessed what happened – see their friends die, as if they’re in a battlefield, for God’s sake. They’ll live with it the rest of their lives,” CBC News cited the president as saying.

“What struck me on that 17-hour flight – what struck me was these kinds of mass shootings rarely happen anywhere else in the world. Why?” the president questioned. “They have mental health problems. They have domestic disputes in other countries. They have people who are lost, but these kinds of mass shootings never happen with the kind of frequency they happen in America. Why? Why are we willing to live with this carnage?

“As a nation, we have to ask, when in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby?” Biden said. “When in God’s name will we do what we all know in our gut needs to be done?”

Biden will travel to Uvalde with first lady Jill Biden on Sunday, the White House said./aa

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