National Rifle Association event expected 55,000 members to attend. A counter-protest is planned by Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.
After the deadliest school shooting in Texas history, NRA has scheduling a meeting in Houston on Friday.
Ashton P Woods says his hometown is not welcoming to him.
“These people are coming into our community. The city of Houston needs to kick them out,” an activist who founded Black Lives Matter Houston said. “We have to be just as tough about these things as they are.”
Woods will be coordinating an event outside the George R Brown Convention Center, where NRA members will browse through exhibits of firearms and gun paraphernalia and hear speeches from key Republican leaders.
Black Lives Matter protesters want to get loud outside the event, but will be drowned out by those speaking inside. These speakers include Texas governor Greg Abbott, Texas senator Ted Cruz and former US president Donald Trump. The Black Lives Matter protest targets primarily police brutality in America.
“Whether it be suicide, or death by cop, or death by mass shooter, weapons need to be controlled.” Elliot Woods said. “These things are interconnected.”
The National Rifle Association is a powerful lobbying organization in American politics which spends nearly $5 million in 2021 to pressure lawmakers to oppose measures like universal background checks for gun sales and bans on powerful assault weapons.
Some 55,000 people attend the NRA annual meeting in Houston. This event is suitable for activists and counter-protesters because members inside discuss firearms policy – often making it necessary to expand access to guns.
Multiple counter-demonstrations are predicted outside the convention center in Houston after a mass shooting that killed 19 children and two adults at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.
Houston police are expecting a huge crowd at the convention center. Jodi Silva, a police spokeswoman, said that they don’t share details of their policing strategies but there will be a visible presence of officers.
“We have staff in place to ensure that everyone can partake, and be safe,” Silva said. “This includes monitoring demonstrations and the like.”\
Megan Hansen and Rev Teresa Kim Pecinovsky watched the news updates on Tuesday in shock. The NRA was in Houston Friday, so they decided to take action.
Pecinovsky said, “We live in a state full of people who love their guns more than they love the lives of the children in their community. I had to do something with that amount of rage and lament.”
Hansen and Pecinovsky have organized a interfaith gathering. This gathering includes a silent march and moment of reflection when organizers will read the names of those who died in Uvalde.
After the 2020 election, Texas’s politics became more progressive and Houston is a bastion of that change. Harris county, which includes Houston, voted for President Joe Biden by 56%. Hansen said she wants others to know that the NRA’s message does not reflect that change.
“Houston is the most diverse city in the United States and we have people from all over the world who do not agree with the rhetoric of National Rifle Association,” Hanson said. “We want to take this feeling and use it to be more active against gun violence.”
Texas legislators have been reluctant to pass legislation to restrict access to high-powered firearms following the recent shooting in Uvalde. Activists say that following the shooting in Uvalde, pressure needs to be exerted on elected leaders to prevent any further tragedies.
“I’m hopeful that this will not just be something people come out to and then leave,” Pecinovksy said. “It needs to be a catalyst for real and tangible change.”