A clash between gun control proponents and those demonstrating outside the NRA Convention in Houston was broken up by local law police, with a group of far-right Proud Boys participating in the brawl.
Hundreds of protesters rallied outside the George R. Brown Convention Center on Saturday for the second day of the NRA Convention, asking for gun regulation in the aftermath of the Robb Elementary School tragedy in Uvalde, Texas.
According to the Houston Chronicle, many people brandished posters accusing individuals attending the convention of being’murderers,’ blaming lax gun control laws for the murders of 19 schoolchildren in Uvalde.
In response, a group of about 20 members of the far-right Proud Boy group appeared as counter-protesters and hurled anti-gay slurs at the nearly 200 protesters.
Fencing was put up to keep the two sides apart, the Chronicle reports, but law enforcement was still called in to break up the chaos.
It is unclear whether any arrests were made.
The altercation reportedly came after NRA officials denied members of the Proud Boys from entering the Convention Center.
The group then walked away in their yellow and black clothing toward the gun control protesters on the other side of the street, the Washington Times reports.
And though the crowd of protesters was not as large as it was one day prior – when former President Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz spoke – they continued to demand that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and other state lawmakers introduce new gun control measures.
They are specifically calling for new legislation increasing the minimum age to purchase a gun to 21, require universal background checks and introduce a red flag law that would temporarily remove firearms from those who are a danger to themselves or to others, according to KHOU.
The NRA convention comes on the heels of an 18-year-old gunman killing 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde – just about four hours away from where the convention is being held.
In the aftermath, Gov. Greg Abbott denied that gun control was the answer.
‘I know people like to try to oversimplify this,’ Abbott said during a news briefing on the shooting Wednesday after he was asked whether there are any new gun laws he supports.
‘There are “real gun laws” in NY. There are real gun laws in California I hate to say this but there are more people who were shot every weekend in Chicago than in schools in Texas.’
‘People need to realize– who think well maybe we can just implement tougher gun laws, it’s gonna solve it– Chicago and LA and New York disprove that thesis,’ the governor said.
‘What you’re talking about its not a real solution. Our job is to come up with real solutions we can implement.’
Abbott laid blame for the school shooting instead on the ‘mental health crisis’ the state was facing.
He said he asked a group of Texas sheriffs what the ‘problem’ was, claiming they told him: ‘We have a problem with mental health illness in this community.’
‘We as a state, we as a society, need to do a better job with mental health. Anybody who shoots somebody else has a mental health challenge. Period,’ Abbott said.
‘We as a government need to find a way to…do something about it.’
Texas ranks 15th for weakest gun laws of the 50 states, according to the Giffords Law Center. Gun homicide rates in the state have risen 90 percent in the last decade, rising every year since 2011.
Gun crimes have risen in major cities with strict gun laws, too– a rise in shootings in Chicago left more people dead in 2021 than in any other year in a quarter century. Shootings in New York City are also on the rise, numbering 296 for the first quarter of 2022 compared to the first quarter of 2021. Homicides in Los Angeles hit a 15-year-high in 2021, according to police.
Abbott then went on to say it has been legal for 18-year-olds in Texas to buy guns for 60 years, but that school shootings have not been happening for as long.
‘What has changed is mental health.’
But since the shooting, several high-profile gun rights enthusiasts decided to cancel their speaking arrangements at the NRA convention, and groups including Black Lives Matter Houston, Indivisible Houston, the Harris County Democratic Party, Moms Demand Action decided to stage protests outside of it.
And on Friday Beto O’Rourke urged some thousand protesters at the convention to break the opposition of Republicans to gun control by ‘getting in their faces before another child is shot in face.’
He delivered an impassioned plea for action citing the recent massacre as he runs to unseat Abbott as governor.
‘So I ask you for those of you in power and who hold office right now and were in the way and refuse to act: Please promise me you will get in their faces before another child is shot in their face,’ he told protesters.