Americans protest gun violence after carnage; leaders say more firearms needed
More than a thousand people have gathered outside the National Rifle Association (NRA)'s annual convention in Houston, Texas, to protest gun violence in the US.
According to Press TV, the protest on Friday came as the country’s biggest arms lobby came under pressure following the latest school shooting massacre in the southern state.
Activist groups participated in the event include Black Lives Matter Houston, Indivisible Houston, Moms Demand Action, Texas American Federation of Teachers and March for Our Lives.
Shouting "NRA, go away," and "Shame, it could be your kids today," the participants held signs and crosses with the photos of victims from an elementary school shooting incident on Tuesday, during which an 18-year-old opened fire and shot dead 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas.
Others carried small caskets and held signs as they chanted, “Protect our kids, not guns!”
The gathering outside the George R. Brown Convention Center also saw several Texas politicians, including Texas Democratic gubernatorial nominee Beto O'Rourke, who told protesters, “The time for us to stop the next mass shooting” is “right now, right here, today.”
Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tex.) also lamented stalled gun control legislation in Congress and called on the NRA to “cancel itself.”
South Dakota Republican Governor Kristi Noem urged attendees not to back down in their fight against gun control, saying, "Now would be the worst time to quit. Now is when we double down.”
'Evil' like Texas massacre a reason to arm, not disarm
Former US President Donald Trump rejected calls on Friday for tightened gun controls following the Texas school massacre, saying Americans should be allowed to defend themselves against what he called "evil."
"The existence of evil in our world is not a reason to disarm law-abiding citizens... The existence of evil is one of the very best reasons to arm law-abiding citizens," he told members of the National Rifle Association.
"The various gun control policies being pushed by the left would have done nothing to prevent the horror that took place. Absolutely nothing," he added.
The fatal shooting by the gunman equipped with an AR-15 style semiautomatic rifle again focused attention on the NRA, the nation's biggest gun lobby and a major donor to Congress members, mostly Republicans.
There have been 214 mass shootings this year in the United States, according to the Gun Violence Archive. They include a racist massacre at a supermarket in a Black neighborhood of Buffalo, New York, just 10 days before the Texas killings.