HOUSTON — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott will not appear in person as planned Friday for the National Rifle Association convention in downtown Houston and will instead deliver his remarks in a prerecorded statement.
Mr. Abbott is the third high-profile Republican speaker to cancel scheduled speeches at the event, which is taking place just days after a school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that killed 19 children and two adults. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas and Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Texas also called off appearances at the convention. However, the NRA said Mr. Cornyn’s office notified them of the cancellation before the shooting at Robb Elementary School late last week and that Mr. Crenshaw was in Ukraine and unable to fly into the U.S. in time for his speaking slot.
Musical acts have also canceled their performances, including “American Pie” folk singer Don McLean, country music singer Larry Gatlin and gospel singer Larry Stewart. Country singer Lee Greenwood announced on “Fox and Friends” Friday morning that he will also no longer perform at the convention.
“The shooting took place at a very bad time and for me to go and play at the NRA just days after the shooting would be an endorsement,” Mr. Greenwood said. “And people would then deem that as ‘I like this weapon’ and obviously that weapon killed kids and, obviously, I just couldn’t go.”
The NRA is expecting tens of thousands of attendees this year after a two-year hiatus as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The NRA released a statement after the school shooting saying, in part, “Although an investigation is underway and facts are still emerging, we recognize this was the act of a lone, deranged criminal. … As we gather in Houston, we will reflect on these events, pray for the victims, recognize our patriotic members, and pledge to redouble our commitment to making our schools secure.”
Large protests are expected in downtown Houston near the George R. Brown Convention Center, the site of the NRA meeting, to “shut down” the convention.
Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, a Democrat who is running for Texas governor in Texas this year, is expected to join the protests Friday.