No country for old men
People attending this weekend's National Rifle Association annual convention in Houston began picking up their badges on Thursday. The NRA is "gearing up to 'reflect on' — and deflect any blame for — the deadly shooting earlier this week of 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas," about 275 miles west of Houston, The Associated Press reports. But some headliners and vendors have bowed out.
Conservative country singer Lee Greenwood on Thursday night joined the exodus of musicians from Saturday's "NRA Grade Ole Night of Freedom" concert, following Don McLean, Larry Gatlin of the Gatlin Brothers, Restless Heart's Larry Stewart, T. Graham Brown, and Danielle Peck. The only performer who hadn't canceled, Variety reports, is Jacob Bryant.
Greenwood said he's withdrawing from the NRA show out of respect for the Uvalde victims and those mourning them. But Gatlin said that unlike the NRA, he has "come to believe" that background checks are "at the very least a step in the right direction toward trying to prevent the kind of tragedy we saw this week in Uvalde."
Gunmaker Daniel Defense told CNN on Thursday it won't be attending the NRA guns and politics event either "due to the horrifying tragedy in Uvalde," where the gunman "criminally misused" one of its military-style rifles. The company also took its twitter account private after one tweet drew unwanted attention.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Thursday that he will skip the NRA convention and instead attend another press conference and briefing in Uvalde on Friday, though he will still deliver his NRA address to via a prerecorded video.
Kimberly and Felix Rubio, whose daughter Lexi was among the 19 children murdered in Uvalde, said they declined an invitation to meet with Abbott. "My first thought was, 'My Lexi doesn't even like him,'" Kimberly Rubio said. Felix Rubio, an Uvalde County Sheriff's deputy, said he wants state officials to outlaw the purchase of AR-15 rifles to prevent future massacres.
"We live in this really small town in this red state, and everyone keeps telling us, you know, that it's not the time to be political, but it is — it is," Kimberly Rubio told The New York Times. "Don't let this happen to anybody else."