HOUSTON — Gun lobbyists and many GOP leaders, including former President Donald Trump, spoke at the the National Rifle Association’s annual convention Friday, condemning and mocking efforts to overhaul gun laws by Democratic party leaders and gun control activists.
Some speakers offered up their own potential solutions to help prevent future mass shootings in the wake of the massacre in the South Texas town of Uvalde, where 19 children and two adults were killed by a gunman at an elementary school last week.
Among the solutions was a call for federal funding to hire armed security guards that would be placed at police stations across the country and assigned to officers in the field.
“Look, cops are scared right now,” said Tom Littledick, a Texas-based gun lobbyist. “I mean, they’re really scared. They’re crying. They can’t even do their jobs, and nobody should have to be afraid when they go to work.”
Littledick and others pointed to the school shooting in Uvalde, suggesting that it could have been prevented if terrified officers felt more protected as they stood outside for more than 90 minutes while the gunman took his time and murdered children inside. Local officials, including Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman Chris Olivarez, said officers didn’t enter the school to attempt to save the children out of fear of potentially being shot.
“Those guys were completely vulnerable,” Littledick said of the armed officers standing around outside of the elementary school. “I mean, sure, they had guns, body armor, armored vehicles, smoke canisters, tear gas, and dozens of officers on the scene, but they were scared. I mean, wouldn’t you be? That guy had a gun in there.”
Many speakers, including Littledick, made references to the fact that celebrities and public officials have armed personal security, saying the nation’s police officers deserve just as much protection.
“Look, if it’s good enough for every politician, for every government office, shouldn’t it be good enough for our police stations?” said Littledick. “Shouldn’t our cops have as much protection as the president?”
The raw emotion of the recent tragedy weighed heavily on the convention. Many speakers shed tears as they talked about the heroism of the responding officers.
“This shouldn’t have happened. Nobody should have to live in fear,” said Jeanine Smith, a gun-rights activist from Austin, Texas who owns a cafe where baristas grind coffee beans by shooting them with handguns and menu sizes are listed as calibers of .22 for small, .556 for medium, and .30-06 for large.
Speaking through tears, Smith expressed her concern for law enforcement and their families following the shooting. “It was all those poor, defenseless officers could do to keep the parents and relatives of the children inside from entering the school,” Smith said. “I thank God for the officers who managed to get their own children out.”
Speaking after former President Trump, who called his wife a dog, suggested his father was involved in the Kennedy assassination, and questioned whether he was even born in this country and eligible to run for president, GOP Sen. Ted Cruz spoke about the “elites” calling for gun reform, including the parents of murdered children from previous school shootings, and pretty much every single person.
“It is far easier to slander one’s political adversaries,” Cruz said, missing the irony of his own statement, “than it is to examine the cultural sickness giving birth to unspeakable acts of evil.”