National Rifle Association annual meeting meets growing protests as three-day convention begins

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — People made their way to the George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston on Thursday for the NRA’s annual meetings.
On-site registration for the event, which is expected to bring up to 80,000 people to Houston on Thursday, has begun. About a dozen people gathered to protest the event in front of City Hall, a mile from the convention center.
There is growing resistance that the NRA will go ahead with its planned annual meetings following the horrific shooting in Uvalde two days earlier.

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

Polly Johnson, another protester, added, “I strongly believe that Mayor (Sylvester) Turner should cancel the NRA convention.”

Mayor Sylvester Turner said the city could not cancel the event because of a legally binding contract.

Turner and other city leaders held a news conference Thursday afternoon, saying they were prepared for Congress and the protests, and urged people to remain peaceful as they exercise their First Amendment Right.
The guest list for the event is changing. On Thursday, musicians Don McLean and Larry Gatlin, who were scheduled to perform at the gathering, withdrew in the face of the shooting.

Congressman Crenshaw and Senator Cornyn withdrew a few days ago before the Uvalde shooting. Crenshaw is in Ukraine and Cornyn has a scheduling conflict.

Former President Donald Trump has confirmed in a statement that he will attend the convention, and a spokesman for Senator Ted Cruz said he will also be in attendance.

ABC13 has contacted Gov. Greg Abbott’s office multiple times to ask about his plans, but there has been no response.

Anthony Segura, a New Mexico NRA trainer who attended the conference, said what happened in Uvalde impressed him 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.

However, he says guns are not the problem.

“Everyone blames the gun. Everyone blames the NRA. You know, we’re not the bad guys. Our main focus is safety and training,” said Segura.

John Thoesen, another attendee, said: “We’re as sorry as everyone else. We don’t want this to happen to gun owners in this country. We are not the cause of this problem.”

A protest organized by several local groups is scheduled to take place at Discovery Green on Friday from 12pm to 3pm.

For more updates, follow Courtney Carpenter on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Copyright © 2022 KTRK-TV. All rights reserved. National Rifle Association annual meeting meets growing protests as three-day convention begins

Dais Johnston

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