Trump dings Abbott and other Republicans for pulling out NRA meeting after shooting in Uvalde

Former President Donald Trump mocked other Republicans for pulling out of the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting in Houston after the shooting in Uvalde killed 21 people earlier this week.

Mr Trump addressed the annual meeting at the George R Brown Convention Center just three days after Salvador Ramos opened fire and killed 19 children and two adults at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

“And unlike some, I didn’t disappoint you by not showing up,” Mr Trump told the crowd to applause.

Many Texas’s top Republican officials were slated to address the annual meeting. But many–including Senator John Cornyn, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and Representative Dan Crenshaw–wound up not speaking.

Governor Greg Abbott chose to address the meeting via pre-recorded remarks while Senator Ted Cruz, North Carolina Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson and Kristi Noem would address the conference in person alongside the former president.

Mr Trump also criticised President Joe Biden and Democrats’ calls for gun control legislation for policitising the shooting in Uvalde.

“Every time a disturbed or demented person commits such a hideous crime, there’s always a grotesque effort by some in our society to use the suffering of others to advance their own extreme political agenda,” he said. “Even more repulsive is their rush to shift blame away from the villains who commit acts of mass violence and to place that blame onto the shoulders of millions of peaceful, law-abiding citizens who belong to organizations such as our wonderful NRA.”

Mr Trump said that Mr Biden’s blame of the gun lobby, he was talking about people like those in the audience.

“And along with countless other Democrats this week, he was shamefully suggesting that Republicans are somehow ok with letting school shootings happen,” he said. “This rhetoric is highly divisive and dangerous and most importantly, it’s wrong. Has no place in our politics.”

After the shooting, Mr Biden asked whether politicians could stand up to organisations like the NRA.

“When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby?” Mr Biden said. “Why are we willing to live with this carnage? Why do we keep letting this happen?”

Mr Trump’s words come as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told CNN that he directed Mr Cornyn to begin engagement with Democratic Senators Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona to craft bipartisan legislation to gun violence.

“I am hopeful that we could come up with a bipartisan solution,” Mr McConnell, whom Mr Trump has vocally criticised since the 2020 election, said Thursday.

Rather, Mr Trump said the most important way to combat gun violence is the focus on mental health.

“Unfortunately, ever since Columbine, we’ve been afflicted by a contagion of school shootings carried by deeply evil violent and mentally disturbed young men,” he said.

Mr Trump listed off a series of policies to address mental health.

“Almost all of these disfigured minds share the same profile,” he said. “And clearly, we need to make it far easier to confine the violent and mentally deranged into mental institutions.”

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