May 27, 2022
In the wake of Tuesday's massacre of 21 students and staff at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, thousands of people protested angrily in Houston Friday to protest outside the National Rifle Association's annual convention to condemn the gun lobby's deep complicity in the nation's mass shooting epidemic.
"We're building space to hold the families of Uvalde, to let them know that we are there for them, that we will stand up for them and we will be fighting for them."
With signs asking "how many more?" and chants proclaiming "enough is enough," demonstrators protested in 95-degree heat outside the George R. Brown Convention Center as NRA officials--who banned guns in the venue due to a scheduled address by former President Donald Trump Friday afternoon--welcomed conference speakers and attendees, who are expected to number around 80,000.
"I'm just tired of the NRA subordinating children's rights for gun rights," Ken Council, a 65-year-old protester, told the Houston Chronicle.
Members of the League of Unified Latin American Citizens, Moms Demand Action, Black Lives Matter, Indivisible, the Houston Federation of Teachers, and other groups took part in the protest.
\u201cParkland Shooting survivor speaks at protest outside @NRA Convention in Houston. "We will outlive the #NRA. The young people in the audience, we have the most valuable thing in politics, even more than money. We have time." #Uvalde\u201d— RA News (@RA News) 1653672841
"When you go and shoot up a school full of kids and teachers... you've taken someone's right to life away," said Ashton Woods, founder and lead organizer of Black Lives Matter Houston. "We're building space to hold the families of Uvalde, to let them know that we are there for them, that we will stand up for them and we will be fighting for them--even when this is over--to make sure we get common-sense gun reform."
Political leaders including Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner (D), U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), and Democratic Texas gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke--who interrupted a press conference in Uvalde on Wednesday--were all scheduled to speak.
"The time to stop Uvalde was after a Columbine...and after Sandy Hook," O'Rourke told the large crowd to loud applause. "The time to stop another mass shooting is now."
\u201cProtesters chanting \u201call children matter\u201d across from the GRB as people walk in to attend the NRA\u2019s annual meetings. @abc13houston\u201d— Courtney Carpenter (@Courtney Carpenter) 1653668461
Lee lamented that "400 million guns, 45% of the guns in the world are in the United States... Will we continue to live in the house of shame?"
Demonstrators took aim at weapons makers, the gun lobby, and the mostly Republican elected officials who collectively receive millions of dollars in campaign contributions from firearms interests while failing to take meaningful action in the face of over 1.5 million U.S. gun deaths--more than the total number of American troops killed in the nation's many wars--over the past half century.
Trump is expected to be joined on stage by South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who, according to OpenSecrets.org, is the top congressional beneficiary of the gun lobby's largesse.
\u201cThe NRA\u2019s annual meeting starts today in Texas, despite 19 children and 2 educators being killed miles away at an elementary school in Uvalde, TX\u201d— Violence Policy Center (@Violence Policy Center) 1653662307
Despite misleading headlines reporting that Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott would skip the NRA convention and instead appear in Uvalde, the governor--a five-figure recipient of NRA campaign cash--will still participate via a prerecorded video message to attendees.
Other Republicans not attending the convention but who receive hundreds of thousands of dollars or more in gun lobby funding also came under fire, including Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who blamed "wokeness" and critical race theory for the Uvalde massacre and asserted that "the solution is renewed faith."
\u201cThis group is walking around the NRA convention with a child-sized casket and holding up photos of kids killed in Uvalde.\n\n\u201cProtect our kids, not guns!\u201d\u201d— Mike Hixenbaugh (@Mike Hixenbaugh) 1653669168
On Wednesday, the organizers of March for Our Lives--the nationwide student-led gun control protests first held in the wake of the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre in Parkland, Florida--announced they were organizing a second such event for June 11.
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