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HOUSTON, Texas – The 2022 National Rifle Association convention kicked off on Friday in Texas and some members of the gun advocacy group who attended the event expressed their opposition to calls for gun control while discussing ways to move forward.
The annual convention came on the heels of the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday which left 19 children and two adults dead.
The convention, held at the George R. Brown Convention Center amid nearby protests from gun-control advocates, hosted thousands of individuals who displayed fierce support for the preservation of the Second Amendment and gun rights.
Franklin, a native of Newnan, Georgia, who preferred to only give his first name, traveled nearly 11 hours to show his support for the NRA. He said the convention showcases “the best America has to offer” when it comes to firearms and discussed how America should move forward following the recent Texas tragedy.
“What happened to those kids is awful, it’s scary, it’s sad,” he said. “I send prayers to those families today and for the rest of my days.”
“While I grieve with those families and the others who have lost children in school shootings, we have to have an honest conversation,” Franklin added. “The NRA did not do this. No one but the shooter did this. We cannot let those calling for restrictions on guns get in the way of fixing this crisis. We gotta do what is necessary to protect these schools, whether it be improving security in schools, getting armed officers to work at schools, or making schools one-way entry zones.”
“Taking gun rights away from Americans who could potentially dissolve a situation like that from happening is not the answer,” he said. “Politicians need to have real conversations, ones that make sense and will enact a change for good. Again, it’s not the NRA’s fault and it’s not the gun’s fault, it’s the shooter’s fault and God has had his way with him.”
Mark and Carol McElroy of New Braunfels, Texas, a small town near San Antonio, told Fox News Digital they are both members of the NRA and said they came to the convention to “support the Second Amendment.”
Asked about school shootings and what can be done in an effort to prevent or deter future tragedies from taking place in schools as it relates to gun violence, the couple insisted that a focus on mental health and background checks is a must.
“There’s a big hole in the school system,” Mark said. “There’s a mental health problem somewhere.”
“The country is certainly divided, obviously, there’s no question about it,” he added. “We both would like to see the states implement a background check for juveniles.”
Carol said she believes that teachers “should be armed” if they’d like to be and “taught the proper handling of guns and the safety of guns.”
“I’m all for that,” she said. “I think that’d help a lot, and get a little more notice around the schools that there is something like this going on and that they’re armed.” She said it would send a strong message to those thinking of causing harm to school children for them not “to come in this school, that we’re prepared for bad people.”
“It’s a sad, sad situation,” she said, adding that those in elected positions, specifically President Biden and his party, “don’t think about the people, they just think about themselves.”
Don Fauch, a U.S. Army veteran and longtime NRA member who traveled to Houston for the convention from Plano, Texas, insisted that the number one reason so many people are committing heinous crimes, whether against school children or individuals shopping in supermarkets, is because there is a lack of care for those suffering mentally.
“We have a mental health crisis,” he said. “When people realize that and are standing on street corners addressing that issue, you may see some change. That, accompanied by safety regulations for schools will be what puts this nation on track. I know because I found help after serving this beautiful country. I needed help and I found it. We need resources for others to find it also.”
Referencing those who stood outside the convention in protest of the NRA, Fauch said, “I fought for them to have that right and I respect it, but I want them to realize what they’re saying when they shout at NRA members who would willingly put their lives on the line to defend them with a gun.”
“The people at this convention are good people. They’re people who use their guns to help you in times needed most. Tragedy will hit us somewhere again and people here know that. We know changes are needed, but taking away certain rights from law-abiding people is not how it’s done. Let’s make schools safer and get trained and responsible officers in schools.”