Guns are banned during Trump’s speech at NRA conference; speakers, singers withdrawing

Update

4:44 a.m. ET, May 27, 2022: Others have announced they will not attend this year’s NRA conference being held in Houston. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Thursday he will not attend as did country singer Lee Greenwood, Restless Heart’s Larry Stewart, T. Graham Brown, and Danielle Peck.

Original story:

Audience members who will hear former President Donald Trump address the National Rifle Association’s Annual Leadership Forum on Friday will not be allowed to bring a firearm into the room where Trump will speak.

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The organization’s annual meeting — to be held in Houston this year — will go ahead following the mass shooting Tuesday in Uvalde, Texas., NRA officials said.

Twenty-one people, including 19 children, were shot and killed at Robb Elementary School.

The NRA condemned the shooting in a statement Wednesday.

“Although an investigation is underway and facts are still emerging, we recognize this was the act of a lone, deranged criminal,” the group said.

“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.”

The Secret Service is taking control of the hall during Trump’s speech, NPR reported, and is prohibiting attendees from having firearms, firearms accessories and knives. Ammunition, laser pointers, pepper spray, toy guns, backpacks and other items also won’t be allowed, either.

The Secret Service will search attendees with magnetometers before they enter the hall, the NRA said.

Several people expected to attend the conference and a concert connected with it have said they will not attend.

Singers Larry Gatlin and Don McLean have both said they will no longer perform at the “Grand Ole Night of Freedom” concert on Saturday evening.

“I have decided it would be disrespectful and hurtful for me to perform,” McLean said in a statement. “I’m sure all the folks planning to attend this event are shocked and sickened by these events as well.”

Gatlin said the shooting was the reason he was withdrawing, as well.

“I cannot, in good conscience, perform at the NRA convention in Houston this weekend. While I agree with most of the positions held by the NRA, I have come to believe that, while background checks would not stop every madman with a gun, it is at the very least a step in the right direction toward trying to prevent the kind of tragedy we saw this week in Uvalde — in my beloved, weeping TEXAS.”

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn was slated to speak at the convention but his office notified news outlets on Tuesday that he had informed the NRA he would not be attending because of an “unexpected change in his schedule” that now required him to be in Washington for personal reasons, The Texas Tribune reported.

Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, withdrew Wednesday due to a trip to Ukraine. He was part of a forum that included Govs. Greg Abbott and Kristi Noem, Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, as well as North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson.

According to the organization’s website, the three-day rally will “showcase over 14 acres of the latest guns and gear,” in addition to presenting guest speakers and forums.

Trump, through a post on his social media platform Truth Social, confirmed he would still appear at the conference.