The National Rifle Association is bumbling onward with its scheduled convention in Houston on Friday, despite this week’s mass shooting — one of the country’s deadliest — at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.
The convention came into focus after outlets reported prominent Texas Republicans, including Gov. Greg Abbott and Sen. Ted Cruz, would be speaking to the gun-obsessed group just days after the massacre, which left 19 children and two teachers dead. (Abbott said Thursday that he will not attend the conference in person but will still appear via video.) Former President Donald Trump is also scheduled to speak at the event.
Seemingly sensing the bad optics, multiple performers, presenters and businesses have pulled out of the event. Among them are Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn and Rep. Dan Crenshaw, singers Don McLean and Larry Gatlin, and Daniel Defense, the manufacturer that produced one of the guns allegedly used in the Uvalde shooting.
So what can attendees expect at this week’s convention?
There’s a seminar called “Bullet Proof Mind For The Armed Citizen,” where attendees will hear a right-wing author, retired Army Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, talk about their “role as an Armed American Citizen in the future challenges to our nation.” The promotional page for the seminar says Grossman will speak about “potential threats, internal or external, and the response to those threats as intended by our Founding Fathers.” It also says Grossman will teach people to “prevent PTSD” and “be physically and emotionally triumphant after an armed encounter.”
I don’t even know what that means, but the idea of hosting a seminar seemingly teaching people how to evade the inevitable and warranted depression that stems from gun violence is an oddly cold goal — especially given the incidents of this week.
There’s also the “Reloading Like A Master” seminar, where attendees are scheduled to hear from a purchaser for a company called Dillon Precision, which specializes in reloading tools, about reloading their own ammo. The promo page boasts of lower shooting costs and improved accuracy with these methods. Learning these skills, the page says, will help them “fabricate ammunition that is not available commercially and free yourself of dependence on expensive and scarce factory ammunition.”
Ahh, that’s precisely what the moment requires: do-it-yourself expertise in weapon-making.
Some previously scheduled seminars — such as “Gun Control Myths: How Politicians, The Media, And Botched ‘Studies’ Have Twisted The Facts On Gun Control” — have been canceled. Perhaps the NRA’s organizers thought that was a little tasteless after this week’s slaughter. But the optics of this event are no better as a result of cutting that seminar.
Days removed from a deadly mass shooting in Texas, the state’s top Republican officials are sending a clear message about where they stand on gun safety measures. And it’s with gun manufacturers — not the people harmed by their products.