NRA wraps up 2022 convention in Houston with National Prayer Breakfast

Sunday marked the close of the National Rifle Association’s Convention in Houston.

The conference was met with thousands of protestors during the Memorial Day weekend after a gunman killed 21 people with an assault rifle inside a Uvalde, Texas elementary school.

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For the third and final day of the NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits event at the George R. Brown Convention Center, swarms of protestors dwindled to a dozen. 

Sunday’s main event, the "National Prayer Breakfast" was held inside the Grand Ballroom. 

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Media was not allowed access, however, attendees and speakers shared that there was mention of Tuesday’s Robb Elementary School massacre of 19 children and two teachers. 

"Everybody in America should be praying for the families that lost their kids and the families before and before," says Lyndon Poff who is visiting from Florida with plans to stock up on hunting equipment. "This has happened multiple times, and it’s not because of the guns." 

Another guest told FOX 26 he protested outside the convention with friends Friday but wanted to get an idea of what was being said indoors. He claims he purchased a prayer breakfast ticket which did not require NRA membership, but he was ultimately disappointed that the school shooting was "grazed over," and there was no talk of unifying change.

"It was democrats, liberals-these are the enemies," says Ernesto Rivas. "They are just against any form of discussion or legitimate legislation." 

Increased calls for changes in gun laws have been fiercely opposed by NRA leaders including board member and Sunday’s headliner, North Carolina Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson. 

In a YouTube video, Robinson talked about owning assault rifles while appearing before North Carolina’s MidPoint Church, the day after the Buffalo mass shooting that left ten dead in a racist attack at a grocery store.

"I’m not ashamed to say it, I’m probably not supposed to say it, but I’m gonna [sic] say it anyway — I got them AR-15s in case the government gets too big for its britches, he said.

Despite criticism, the lieutenant governor did not pull out of the convention like some conservative leaders, instead, he doubled down on Second Amendment rights. 

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He spoke exclusively with FOX 26 after the breakfast but refused to discuss details of proposed gun legislation.

"We need more security in our schools, and that’s the answer to stop these things," he said. "I think the beginning of a solution is to take care of our children the same way we see fit to take care of our politicians in Washington, DC. We don’t spare a dime when it comes to their defense. We got every metal detector. We’ve got every gun available. We’ve got every security measure available to the people in our halls of government. We do not provide that to our children."

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Robinson also blamed limits on law enforcement’s ability to secure schools.

"We have made an enemy out of law enforcement, instead of partnering with them," he said. "If we would partner with law enforcement, they could bring solutions to protect our schools." 

Officers who responded to the Uvalde shooting reportedly took more than an hour to enter a classroom and take down the shooter. Robb Elementary also had a school resource officer who did not locate the suspect in time. 

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When asked his reaction to the delayed response, Robinson stated, "I’m not going to comment on that because I was not there, and I was not part of that." 

When asked about visiting Uvalde, Robinson said he would not have time to see victims’ families while in Texas due to needing to return to a short legislative session in North Carolina.

Instead, he and other speakers addressed conference participants, encouraging a return to "American values" to avoid more tragedy. 

"There was a time in America we had prayer in school," said evangelist Tim Lee, another guest speaker. "There was a time in America where we read the Bible in school, and now they make it seem like it’s almost a bad thing."

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Lee lost both legs during the Vietnam War before becoming a pastor and traveling preacher.

"People minimize prayer," he added. "That’s actually the most important thing we can do."

The lifetime NRA member also supports legislation that would increase safety in schools but stressed prayer as a necessary action to protect children. 

He and his fellow members left with the resounding message from the convention: the acknowledgment of the Uvalde tragedy with consideration of action, as long as it does not include gun law reform.