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NRA blames the Texas school shooting on a 'lone, deranged criminal' and says its annual meeting 300 miles from the massacre will carry on as planned

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A convention goer passes the NRA desk at the 2015 NRA Annual Convention.
A convention goer passes the NRA desk at the 2015 NRA Annual Convention.KAREN BLEIER/AFP via Getty Images
  • At least 19 children and two adults were killed in a mass shooting at a Texas elementary school.

  • The gunman obtained the rifles just days after turning 18, authorities said.

  • The NRA said it still plans to hold its conference in Houston on Friday.

The National Rifle Association blamed a "lone, deranged criminal" for Tuesday's mass shooting at a Texas elementary school that left 19 children and two adults dead — and said its annual meeting will go on as planned.

In a Wednesday statement, the NRA said it would still hold its annual meeting beginning Friday in Houston.

Houston is just under 300 miles from Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, where Tuesday's massacre — which claimed the lives of 19 children and 2 adults — took place.

"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 NRA said.

Former President Donald Trump has already confirmed he will still speak at the event. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is also scheduled to give a speech.

The NRA's statement comes as the debate on gun control amplifies among lawmakers. During a press conference on Wednesday, former Texas congressman and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke accused Abbott of "doing nothing" about gun violence.

"You're doing nothing. You are offering us nothing. This is totally predictable," O'Rourke told the Republican governor during the Wednesday briefing at Uvalde High School.

The gunman purchased two AR-15-style rifles and 375 rounds of ammunition in the days following his 18 birthday. Texas in recent months has made it easier to buy guns. A permitless carry law, which removed requirements for competency tests, background checks, and safety assessments for handgun owners, went into effect in September.

Democratic lawmakers have criticized GOP legislators for stalling gun control measures in recent years despite a growing number of mass shootings. In a op-ed in The Hill,  former Democratic Rep. Steve Israel said Republicans won't vote on tougher gun control measures because they're too afraid of losing elections.

"In a heavily polarized House, where districts were increasingly ruby red versus bright blue, any vote for any gun safety would invite a primary opponent and ignite his likely defeat. No issue, he told me, motivated his base more intensely than guns. Moderates would forgive and forget that he voted against background checks; but his base would never forgive him for voting for them," Israel wrote of an exchange with a GOP rep.

This story is developing. Please check back for updates.

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