The NRA Convention Was Ridiculous

From conspiracy theories to Donald Trump's shoulder shimmying, the event was a display of how dangerous the GOP has gotten.

The NRA Convention Was Ridiculous
Photo:Michael Wyke (AP)

Today, the National Rifle Association assembled some of its staunchest supporters for its annual convention—a mere three days after the massacre at Robb Elementary School, which took the lives of 19 children and two teachers. Even as key Republicans pulled out of programming in the immediate aftermath of the Uvalde shooting, some high-profile members of the party—namely, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Gov. Kristi Noem (R-SD), and former president Donald Trump—still offered remarks. And Trump, of course, performed his patented shoulder dance.

Held at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, the conference featured former president Trump fumbling the names of the Uvalde shooting victims, seriously proposing that a solution to school shootings is reducing the number of doors, and shimmying to thunderous applause from a less than impressive audience. Meanwhile, across the street—and throughout the country—hundreds gathered in protest.

As to be expected, speaker after speaker trotted out every excuse imaginable for the recent shooting, including: broken families, absent fathers, declining church attendance, social media bullying, violent online content, chronic isolation, prescription drug and opioid abuse. And those were just the ones listed by Cruz. Absent, of course, was the implication of guns, which an abundance of statistics and research clearly show to be the reason the United States has significantly more mass shootings than any other country in the world. (The NRA clearly understands that guns are a problem, as they were banned from Friday’s event.)

Cruz received rockstar-worthy screams for stating the obvious: “There have been too damn many of these killings, and we have to act decisively to stop them.”

But instead of calling for the one thing that would undoubtedly impede mass shootings—banning assault weapons—Cruz held fast to the notion of armed officers, locked classroom doors and a singular point of entry in schools—asserting that Salvador Ramos, the Uvalde shooter, was able to murder 21 people simply because he entered through a back door.

As he reared his conclusion, Cruz spoke directly to the ethos of the convention and conservatives, in general: “What stops armed bad guy is armed good guys.”

Frankly, it’s bordering on comical that Cruz would be bold enough to repeat this talking point, knowing that police in Uvalde did absolutely nothing to stop the shooter and, instead, prevented parents from entering the school allowing Ramos an entire hour to kill children.

Trump then asked for a brief moment of silence as he read the names of the murdered Robb Elementary School children and their teachers, as a bell tolled following each one. “He will be eternally damned to burn in the fires of hell,” Trump said of Ramos, emphatically calling for “drastic” change to the country’s approach to mental health.

Minutes in, it was abundantly clear what the script was, however: an onslaught of conspiracy theories. Like Cruz, Trump called for an increase in police funding and training and noted that every school building should have a solitary point of entry. “Let teachers conceal and carry,” he added.

Trump then alluded to running for president again in 2024, pledging, “If I ever run for president and win, I would crack down on violent crime like never before.”

The circus served in stark contrast to the number of ongoing counter protests—including many led by students—across the country. In Houston, left-wing politicians, advocates and activists like Ashton Woods, founder of Black Lives Matter Houston, David Hogg, Parkland shooting survivor co-founder of March For Our Lives, and current Texas gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke addressed the crowd outside the convention.

“We are extending our hand open and unarmed in a gesture of peace and fellowship to welcome you to join us, to make sure this no longer happens in this country,” O’Rourke said. Meanwhile, Hogg announced an impending March For Our Lives protest on June 11 in D.C., with more planned this weekend throughout the United States.

Similar protests and actions like walkouts and marches that called for swift policy on gun control and remembered the murdered students and teachers took place in Los Angeles, New York City, Ohio, Michigan and spanning the U.S. today. More are expected throughout Memorial Day weekend.

“It is not enough for us to stand here after a mass shooting, it is critical that we show up every time there’s a life lost,” said Luis Jonathan Hernandez, co-founder of Youth Over Guns in New York City.

Notably, it’s the fact that lives are lost always seem to be missing from the GOP’s discussions surrounding gun control. At best, their names are just mispronounced.

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