Shamelessness, “pride,” and contractual obligations are apparently what prompted the show to go on at the 151st annual NRA convention in Houston this Friday, despite having lost 21 lives — 19 of them children — just days prior in Uvalde, Texas. After cries demanding the cancellation of the event earlier in the week to no avail, organizers and activists gathered across the street from the George R. Brown Convention Center on Friday to protest. Co-led by Black Lives Matter Houston, Fiel Houston, Indivisible Houston, and the Harris County Democratic Party, speakers continued to ask that the convention be shut down, for stricter gun control laws, and for politicians to speak up.
“If there’s someone who is scared, and mumbling, and afraid to stand for these children and their teachers and schools about gun safety, you should know and vote them out,” Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas said as she addressed the crowd.
Jackson Lee has been attempting to pass gun control legislation for more than 20 years. In 1999, she served on a congressional task force after the deadly shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado. Prior to the convention, she also called for former president Donald Trump to cancel his own visit as other politicians had done.
“Unlike some, I didn’t disappoint you by not showing up,” Trump said as he took the stage on Friday.
Chas Moore, head of the Austin Justice Coalition, a nonprofit focused on addressing racial and social injustices, was also in attendance at the protest. He spoke on the prevalence of gun violence in communities of color.
“This happens everyday far more often in Black and brown communities,” Moore told NBC News. He also called out “armchair activists,” people he describes as those out just to take a picture and post for social media.
“You want to be in the community, that’s great,” Moore said. “But like, don’t chalk it up to you actually doing something. Because like, that’s also another reason why we keep having these cycles.”
On Instagram, the Houston BLM chapter condemned the NRA leadership forum saying that everyone speaking at the event has “blood on their hands.”
While Houston mayor Sylvester Turner extended his condolences following the massacre of the Uvaldian children, he said that the city would not be canceling the event due to legal issues.
“The greater question is why are elected officials speaking there, and what message does that send,” Turner said. “You can’t pray and send condolences on one day and go and champion guns on the next.”
The convention is scheduled to run through Sunday, and follows the loss of 21 souls in Uvalde, Texas, 10 in Buffalo, New York, and countless others across the country.