“After prayerful consideration and discussion with NRA officials, I have decided not to speak at the NRA breakfast this morning,” Patrick said in a statement sent by his campaign consultant Allen Blakemore.
“While a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and an NRA member, I would not want my appearance today to bring any additional pain or grief to the families and all those suffering in Uvalde.”
“This is a time to focus on the families, first and foremost,” he added.
Mr. Patrick announced his withdrawal immediately after the office of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott released a statement that he would not appear in person but rather in a pre-recorded video statement at the annual Second Amendment confab in downtown Houston, which is taking place just days after the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that killed 19 children and two adults.
Mr. Patrick is now the 4th prominent Republican official to cancel his attendance at the NRA convention. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas and Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Texas also called off their speaking engagements 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 to the U.S. in time to give his remarks.
Other Republicans are still scheduled to give speeches with former President Donald Trump, who is headlining the Friday event. They are Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Virginia Lt. Gov. Winsome Sears, North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem.
Music acts have also decided to stay away from their scheduled appearances such as “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 NRA is expecting tens of thousands of attendees this year after a two-year hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The last time the gun rights organization shortened its annual meeting to one day, instead of the planned three days, due to pressure after a mass shooting, was when the convention was held in Denver in 1999, 11 days after the deadly Columbine High School shooting in Littleton, a suburb of Denver. Three thousand gun control protesters converged on the city that year.
Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, a Democrat who is running for Texas governor this year, is expected to join the protests on Friday.
• Kerry Picket can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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