HOUSTON — The biggest names at the National Rifle Association’s annual gun show would not take the stage until Friday afternoon. BA young man wearing a vintage Make America Great hat and a couple wearing matching “ULTRA MAGA” shirts began camping in the third-floor hallway of the convention center just after 9 a.m. to secure prime seats for the star Attraction: Ex-President Donald Trump.
The timing of this conference, the NRA’s gun palooza, is beyond perverse as it comes just days after the massacre of 19 students and two teachers by an 18-year-old with an AR-15 in Uvalde. Through By midday on Friday, a protest was in full swing across the street from the Convention Hall. DGun control protesters held up signs with slogans such as “NRA OWNS GOP.” One listed the names of the children killed in their classroom on Tuesday, etched in black and blood red. “¡Asesinos!” a man shouted repeatedly into a megaphone, using the Spanish word for “murderer.”
Given the flammability of the moment, United States intelligence wasn’t playing around. By 1:00 p.m., a mostly retired crowd had queued behind the early arrivals, winding its way into a cavernous side annexe of the convention hall. A German shepherd wearing a K9 Explosive collar walked past the line and sniffed at the patrons. Large poster boards warned attendees that firearms, ammunition, knives and “weapons of any kind” are prohibited in the convention arena.
It took nearly two hours to filter this crowd of approximately 3,000 NRA members through the Secret Service security checkpoint—crammed with airport-style metal detectors, wands, and pats. But there was little grumbling about the minor inconvenience to ensure the safety of the former president, as well as Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and, of course, NRA chief Wayne LaPierre.
The irony that sensible gun control created a gun-free bubble in the belly of the NRA Congress was glaring, but attendees and speakers seemed completely oblivious to it. Speaker after speaker insisted that gun restrictions cannot and will not deter shooters, and that the only solution to the nation’s plague of gun violence is to use more guns.
The General Assembly arena was set up like a concert, and NRA VIPs crowded the stage in the ditch. On a dais behind them stood a bank of television cameras overlooking the stage – itself empty save for a dais adorned with the NRA seal, flanked by presidential-style teleprompters. A pair of jumbotrons mounted on the wall turned each speaker into a talking head.
Congress political speakers said a gun did not kill Uvalde’s students and teachers.
“If we as a nation were able to decree evil with our hearts and minds,” La Pierre said, “we would have done it a long time ago.”
The NRA honcho appeared to have undergone a personality transplant since his bombastic performance after the 2012 Newtown shooting, when he infamously thundered, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” ” On Friday night, LaPierre’s tone was more somber, more grandfatherly, but no less radical in the end. Clad in a blue company suit, LaPierre reiterated his call for armed guards at the school, calling gun ownership a “human right” and insisting that only firearms can prevent the “hateful, vile monsters that walk among us from killing you.” to commit evil. ”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott appeared via video – rather than in person as planned – and sang from the same hymnbook: “America mourns the loss of an evil madman who took the innocent lives of school children,” Abbott said. But he warned of new gun restrictions because criminals don’t obey the law, and existing gun restrictions “haven’t stopped lunatics from committing evil deeds on innocent people.”
In case the message didn’t get through, the unctuous Ted Cruz laid it on thick. “None of us will truly understand the evident evil that ravaged Uvalde,” Cruz said. He insisted that guns, and even gun laws, are not the problem, but “a cultural disease that breeds untold evil deeds.” While Cruz made an impassioned call for door control, calling for school buildings with a single point of entry, and calling for federal funding for “bulletproof doors,” Cruz’s speech was peppered with calls from the audience for “gun teachers” and “more guns.” .” The Texas senator was soon engaged in a call-and-response. “At the end of the day, we all know that what stops armed baddies is armed…” Cruz began.
“Good boys!” the crowd cheered back.
While LaPierre tried to sound respectful. Subsequent speakers sounded less and less somber. South Dakota’s Noem, who appeared in a burgundy leather jacket, used her appearance on the podium to give a passing acknowledgment of the week’s tragedy before beginning what sounded like a political stump speech and her record for relaxing gun laws in the South highlighted Dakota. Noem also announced their (wildly deadly) response to the Covid epidemic. “Now is not the time to cave in to the wake-up culture,” Noem said, urging NRA members never to back down in the face of criticism. “Now we’re doubling down.”
When the emotionally crippled former president took the stage, the staged attempts at grief degenerated into farce.
Saluting the “wonderful patriots of the NRA,” Trump told the assembled crowd, “You are the backbone of our movement.”
The ex-president slammed the many politicians who walked out of Congress at the last minute: “Unlike some others, I did not disappoint you by not showing up.” Trump then embarked on a cruel attempt to commemorate the dead, reading (and frequently garbled) the young victims’ names while the synthesized sound of a bell rang after each name.
To punctuate the theme of the good guy with a gun, Trump called a man in a cowboy hat onto the stage, whom he celebrated for shooting dead a gunman who had drawn a gun in the church. A silver-haired gentleman named Jack stepped up to the microphone and did his part in carrying the message home, insisting on the experience to the crowd: “I didn’t kill anyone that day – I eliminated evil.”
Jack also delighted the gathering — who seemed determined to turn this Trump rally into a party, let alone Uvalde — by telling the sore loser of the 2020 election, “You’re still my president.”
The rest of Trump’s meandering hour-long speech, it must be reported, sounded like a dry run for a new campaign. It included attacks on Joe Biden over withdrawing from Afghanistan and high gas prices, and threatening to crack down on liberal cities like Portland if he returned to the Oval Office.
In one of the strongest hints that another run for office could take place in his future, Trump called on NRA members to “tough on crime, Second Amendment candidates” to help the House and Senate in 2022 recapture. “And in 2024,” Trump said, “We’re going to take this great and beautiful White House.”
The crowd erupted in a “Four more years!” chant.
https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/nra-conference-more-guns-mass-shootings-1360117/ NRA Convention: Trump, Cruz Demand More Guns to Stop Another Uvalde