HOUSTON — Gov. Greg Abbott said America is grieving after the massacre at an Uvalde elementary school, but suggested that no law would have stopped the gunman.
The Republican delivered taped remarks to the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting in Houston on Friday, just days after a gunman killed 21 people, including 19 children, at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde.
“There are thousands of laws on the books across the country that limit the owning or using of firearms, laws that have not stopped madmen from carrying out evil acts on innocent people in peaceful communities,” Abbott said during the brief speech.
Abbott said the gunman in Uvalde committed a felony before “he even pulled the trigger” by possessing a firearm on a school campus, then committed capitol murder.
“Well, just as laws didn’t stop the killer, we will not let his evil acts stop us from uniting the community he tried to destroy,” said Abbott, who’s up for a third term in November.
The video played to a packed convention center in downtown Houston minutes before Abbott delivered a press conference in person in Uvalde.
The NRA’s annual gathering, which in pre-pandemic years drew up to 70,000 people, went forward without delay just days after the shooting this week. Several Texas politicians canceled their in-person appearances, including Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz was the sole Texas politician to speak in person during the afternoon’s leadership forum speeches.During a 30-minute speech that received a standing ovation, Cruz said action is needed, but said gun restrictions pushed by Democrats aren’t the answer.
“The elites who dominate our culture tell us that firearms lie at the root of the problem,” he said. “For millions of Americans, the right to keep and bear arms is not theoretical. … Taking guns away from these responsible Americans will not make them safer, nor will it make our nation more secure.”
Instead, Cruz said schools should have a single entry point guarded by armed police officers and classrooms with bulletproof doors that can lock.
“Ultimately, as we all know, what stops armed bad guys is armed good guys,” he said.
Former President Donald Trump is expected to speak later Friday.
Beto O’Rourke, the former Democratic congressman who is challenging Abbott, spoke to protesters gathered across the street from the convention center hours before the governor’s remarks.
“We extend our hand open and unarmed in a gesture of peace and fellowship, to welcome you, to join us, to make sure this no longer happens in this country,” O’Rourke said, directing his comments at NRA attendees, according to the Texas Tribune. “But the time for you to respond and join us is now. We cannot wait any longer for you.”