Following the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida, Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway urged the NRA to move their convention. Caraway said the event scheduled for May 3-6 is inappropriate in light of the recent shooting, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Nikolas Cruz, a former student at Marjory Stoneman High School, opened fire on teachers and classmates last week killing 17 and injuring 23. According to NBC News, Cruz has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder and is looking to plead guilty in exchange for a sentence of life without parole.
The NRA has been largely criticized after the Parkland massacre by critics who say the gun-rights group is padding the pockets of lawmakers in Washington and keeping them from passing measures that could curb gun violence.
The NRA responded swiftly to Caraway’s request.
Andrew Arulanandam, the NRA’s managing director of public affairs said the group is ready to return to Texas for the first time since they hosted their annual convention in Houston in 2013.
“No politician anywhere can tell the NRA not to come to their city,” Arulanandam said. “We are already there. Dallas, like every American city and community, is populated by NRA members. Our members work in fire stations and police departments. They save lives in local hospitals and own businesses in communities urban and rural throughout this country.”
The convention, scheduled to be held at the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center, will reportedly include firearms displays and exhibits. The NRA’s national elected officials will also participate in leadership meetings. According to the NRA website, ammunition sales are permitted, but on-site firearm sales are not.
In a written statement, Caraway said that it’s “time to put the heat on the NRA.” He followed up his written comments with a news conference outside City Hall in which he decried high-powered civilian-owned weapons and gun violence in Dallas, referencing both the 1963 Kennedy assassination and the deadly July 7, 2016, ambush on police.
According to the Dallas News, Caraway said asking the NRA to reconsider was “a tough call” but would put the city’s residents first. He said the NRA’s draw to the city would lead to demonstrations and that the organization needs to “come to the table” and be part of a solution.
According to reports, the NRA has a large financial incentive to keep their convention in Dallas.
City Hall said Monday that the NRA’s taking most of the convention center that first weekend in May — pretty much everything except the old Memorial Auditorium, Ballroom A and some meeting rooms. The rent would normally come to $410,618.
But according to numbers provided Monday, the city is giving the NRA a $22,840 discount. VisitDallas, the city’s tourism bureau, will pick up the rest of the tab, worth upward of $387,000.
Will Trump help?
In the wake of the deadly school shooting by Nikolas Cruz, Donald Trump is reportedly open to the idea of improving a federal background checks system for gun purchases.
On Monday, Principal Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah released a statement about the bill that Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, and Connecticut Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy, have introduced. The bill, which Shah said Trump had spoken to Cornyn about, would reportedly beef up the reporting system for offenses that would keep people from purchasing guns.
“While discussions are ongoing and revisions are being considered, the President is supportive of efforts to improve the federal background check system,” Shah said, according to CNN.