The National Rifle Association has broken its silence on the horrific Uvalde, Texas massacre that killed 19 students and two teachers at an elementary school on Tuesday.
The NRA spoke out on Wednesday afternoon after mounting pressure – and fresh scrutiny on its annual meeting this Friday in Houston, less than 300 miles away from where more than a dozen families will be grieving the loss of their young children to an 18-year-old gunman.
However, the massive lobbying group attempted to divert national attention from the relaxed laws that allowed the now-deceased teen to get an assault weapon, painting him as a ‘lone’ and ‘deranged’ shooter.
‘Our deepest sympathies are with the families and victims involved in this horrific and evil crime. On behalf of our members, we salute the courage of school officials, first responders and others who offered their support and services,’ the NRA’s statement read.
‘Although an investigation is underway and the facts are still emerging, we recognize this was the act of a lone, deranged criminal.’
It ended the statement with a subtle confirmation that the marquee Houston event will move forward despite the recent tragedy.
‘As we gather in Houston, we will reflect on these events, pray for the victims, recognize our patriotic members and pledge to redouble our commitment to making our schools secure.’
NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre will likely attend the conference in Houston on Friday, where a marquee of national GOP stars are expected to speak
Donald Trump announced on Wednesday that he still intends to speak at the annual meeting.
He, Texas Governor Greg Abbott and the state’s junior GOP Senator Ted Cruz came under scrutiny for being slated to speak at the pro-gun event on Friday even as more than a dozen families grieve their lost loved ones killed at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde.
‘America needs real solutions and real leadership in this moment, not politicians and partisanship,’ Trump said on his app Truth Social.
‘That’s why I will keep my longtime commitment to speak in Texas at the NRA Convention and deliver an important address to America. In the meantime, we all continue to pray for the victims, their families, and for our entire nation – we are all in this together!
Trump earlier in the morning said the elementary school shooting is a ‘moment in time that will never be forgotten’ and extended his ‘grief and sorrow’ for the victims of the mass slaughter.
The shooter was reportedly killed by law enforcement.
‘So hard to think or report about anything else after watching the Texas school “massacre” which took place yesterday,’ Trump wrote on his app Truth Social.
‘Thank you to the great wisdom and bravery of our Law Enforcement Professionals, and condolences to all who are suffering so gravely with the loss of those incredible souls so close to you.’
He concluded, ‘No words can express the sorrow and grief of this absolutely horrible event. It is a moment in time which will never be forgotten!’
Trump posted on his app Truth Social, ”So hard to think or report about anything else after watching the Texas school “massacre” which took place yesterday.’
Trump commended law enforcement and mourned the ‘incredible souls’ lost in the message on his social media platform
The NRA tweeted this on Monday night, before the shooting, about Trump’s Friday appearance
Governor Greg Abbott and Senator Ted Cruz are also expected to attend the NRA gathering in Houston, taking place two days after Abbott mourned the ‘horrific loss’ of lives less than 300 miles away in Uvalde.
The NRA, which has for decades fiercely opposed gun control of all kinds, endorsed Abbott in his re-election bid this November against Democrat Beto O’Rourke.
NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre once hailed Abbott as ‘a tireless defender of the right to keep and bear arms.’
The organization touted Trump’s appearance on Friday in a Twitter post made Monday night, before the shooting – its most recent tweet as of 9am ET on Wednesday.
‘Just a few days left until President Trump speaks at NRA’s Annual Meeting for the 6th time! Hear from Trump this Friday, May 27, 2PM in Houston, TX!’ its official Twitter account boasted.
Cruz told CNN after the shooting, ‘Inevitably when there’s a murderer of this kind, you see politicians try to politicize it, you see Democrats and a lot of folks in the media whose immediate solution is to try to restrict the constitutional rights of law abiding citizens.’
People sit on the curb outside of Robb Elementary School as State troopers guard the area in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24
An 18-year-old gunman killed at least 18 students and two teachers when he opened fire inside the school
The massacre, which has seen kids as young as 10 slain, has renewed calls among gun control supporters to pass more restrictions on firearm access
His post on Twitter expressing condolences for the massacre was reposted by progressive Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who called out his upcoming NRA appearance.
‘Aren’t you slated to headline a speaking gig for the NRA in three days – in Houston, no less? You can do more than pray. Faith without works is dead,’ Ocasio-Cortez wrote.
President Joe Biden delivered a brief but powerful address in response to the shooting on Tuesday night, where he grieved for the victims and their families but also tore into gun manufacturers and lobbyists like the NRA for their opposition to ‘common sense gun laws.’
‘I had hoped, when I became president, I would not have to do this. Again. Another massacre,’ Biden said.
Speaking from the White House Roosevelt Room with First Lady Jill Biden clad in black by his side, the president said: ‘Uvalde, Texas. An elementary school. Beautiful innocent, second, third, fourth graders. And how many scores of little children who witnessed what happen – see their friends die as if they’re on a battlefield, for God’s sake?’
His remarks came less than two hours after Biden returned from his first presidential trip to Asia.
‘As a nation, we have to ask, when in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby? When in God’s name will we do what we all know in our gut needs to be done?’ he questioned.
Biden recalled the numerous mass shootings over the last decade, including visiting Sandy Hook Elementary School, where a gunman killed 26 people including 20 children while he was vice president. He also remarked on the this month’s mass shooting that killed 10 people in Buffalo, New York.
‘I am sick and tired of it. We have to act. And don’t tell me we can’t have an impact on this carnage. I spent my career as a senator and vice president working to pass common sense gun laws,’ he said.
Biden claimed the ability for a teenage gunman to be able to ‘walk into a gun store and buy two assault weapons is just wrong.’
‘What in God’s name do you need an assault weapon for except to kill someone?’ Biden questioned.
He then accused gun makers of spending ‘two decades aggressively marketing assault weapons, which make them the most and largest profit.’
‘For God’s sake, we have to have the courage to stand up to the industry,’ the president said.