Former President Donald Trump will today demand tougher security at schools and better monitoring of mental health but will say that the actions of a deranged gunman are no reason to take firearms from law-abiding citizens.
‘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 will tell members of the National Rifle Association, according to excerpts of his speech obtained by DailyMail.com.
He is due to deliver his speech at the group’s annual meeting in Houston, Texas, where protesters spent the day demanding tougher restrictions on guns in the wake of the Uvalde school massacre.
Nineteen children and two teachers were shot dead by an 18-year-old gunman on Tuesday.
‘Each precious young soul that was taken is an incomprehensible loss—stolen from us by a malice that no words can describe,’ Trump is expected to say.
While President Joe Biden has signaled a fresh push on guns, Trump laid the focus elsewhere.
‘While we don’t yet know enough about this week’s killing, we know there are many things we must do,’ he will say.
‘We need to drastically change our approach to mental health. There are always so many warning signs.
‘Almost all of these disfigured minds share the same profile.’
Former President Donald Trump will say that evil is not the reason to take guns from Americans when he addresses members of the National Rifle Association in Houston Friday
Thousands of protesters gathered outside the George R Brown Convention Center to demand action on guns following the killing of 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde on Tuesday
Inside the convention center, NRA members shopped for weapons and gun paraphernalia
His speech comes at a pivotal moment, as the nation once again tries to get to grips with another mass shooting and its causes.
Like other Republicans, Trump will point to changes in the fabric of society.
‘We also have to deal with the problem of broken families—because no law can cure the effects of a broken home,’ he is expected to say.
‘There is no substitute for a strong mom and a great dad.’
And he will demand better protection for children in schools.
‘All of us must unite, Republican and Democrat—in every state, and at every level of government—to finally harden our schools and protect our children,’ he is expected to say.
‘What we need now is a top-to-bottom security overhaul at schools across this country.’
Across the street, protesters took a different view. They held crosses with photos of shooting victims and shouted, ‘NRA go away,’ and ‘Shame, it could be your kids today.’
One woman held a placard reading simply: ‘Fthe NRA,’ and shouted abuse as thousands of members of the country’s biggest gun lobby streamed into the convention center.
Beto O’Rourke urged protesters to break the opposition of Republicans to gun control by ‘getting in their faces before another child is shot in face’ outside the National Rifle Association meeting in Houston on Friday.
Thousands of protesters assembled across the street from a convention center where former President Donald Trump was due to speak in favor of the Second Amendment.
But O’Rourke, who is running to unseat Republican Greg Abbott as Texas governor, delivered an impassioned plea for action days after 19 children and two teachers were shot dead about 270 miles away in Uvalde.
‘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.
It comes after a string of performers announced they would not be appearing at the meeting’s Saturday night concert – throwing the event into doubt.
Democratic candidate for Texas governor Beto O’Rourke demanded immediate action on gun control in an impassioned speech to protesters in Houston days after 19 children were shot dead at a school in Uvalde, about 270 miles away
People protest outside the NRA convention at the George R. Brown Convention Center. Houston, Texas, with images of children killed in gun violence
Claudia Blakemore and Ira Dember protest against gun laws outside the NRA annual convention in Houston. The nation is again dealing with the aftermath of a mass shooting and the divisions between left and right about how to move forward
That made little difference to the main exhibition hall on Friday, which was busy with attendees looking over stalls selling handguns, military-style rifles and every other type of firearm in between.
A taxidermy stand was dominated by two stuffed bears, while another touted the merits of investing in gold to ride out market uncertainty.
The singer Lee Greenwood was the latest to announce he was pulling out on Thursday evening.
‘As a father, I join the rest of America in being absolutely heartbroken by the horrific event that transpired this week in Texas,’ said the ‘God Bless the USA’ star.
‘I was scheduled to perform at NRA’s private event on Saturday with my band.
‘After thoughtful consideration, we have decided to cancel the appearance out of respect for those mourning the loss of those innocent children and teachers in Uvalde.’
Daniel Defense, which made the weapon used in the Uvalde shooting, also withdrew.
Its allotted space was filled with food vendors instead.
Their absences were a blow to organizers who hoped the weekend would strike an air of defiance as Democrats make a fresh gun control push.
Even Abbott, a staunch defender of gun rights, decided not to appear.
A child looks at a pistol conversion kit during the National Rifle Association (NRA) annual convention in Houston, while protesters massed outside in the Texas heat
Protesters chanted as thousands of defiant NRA members entered the convention center
He instead sent a pre-recorded statement. In it, he said he would be visiting Uvalde again.
And he used it to push back on the idea that new laws would have prevented the school massacre.
‘There are thousands of laws on the books across the country that limit the owning or using a firearms laws that have not stopped madmen from carrying out evil acts on innocent people and peaceful communities,’ he said.
‘In Uvalde, the gunman committed a felony under Texas law before he even pulled the trigger. It’s a felony to possess a firearm on school premises, but that did not stop him.’
The NRA meeting is being held at the George R. Brown Convention Center, about a four-hour drive from Uvalde, where 19 children and two adults were killed by an 18-year-old gunman.
Protests were planned to start on Friday by groups like Black Lives Matter Houston, Indivisible Houston, the Harris County Democratic Party, Moms Demand Action, immigration group FIEL Houston, the League of United Latin American Citizens, Move On and others.
Houston police said that they are taking steps to accommodate both the convention and the protests against it.
‘We always are aware of the demonstrations and-or counter-demonstrations and staff accordingly,’ police spokeswoman Jodi Silva said. ‘We staff accordingly to make sure that everyone can participate and be safe.’
For his part, Trump said that there was no contradiction in attending the event after the school slaughter.
‘America needs real solutions and real leadership in this moment, not politicians and partisanship,’ Trump said in a statement.
‘That’s why I will keep my longtime commitment to speak in Texas at the NRA Convention and deliver an important address to America. In the meantime, we all continue to pray for the victims, their families and our entire nation – we are all in this together.’
But music legend McLean announced Thursday that he would no longer take part.
‘I have decided it would be disrespectful and hurtful for me to perform,’ he said. ‘I’m sure all the folks planning to attend this event are shocked and sickened by these events as well.’
And the mayor of Houston made clear his reservations about the event and elected representatives who chose to attend.
Sylvester Turner said cancelling the event was not possible.
‘Canceling the convention would leave the city subject to a number of legal issues,’ he said.
‘The greater question is why are elected officials speaking there, and what message does that send.
‘You can’t pray and send condolences on one day and go and champion guns on the next.’
PICTURED: The 19 children and two teachers butchered by 18-year-old gunman Salvador Ramos in Texas
Amerie Jo Garza, 10
Amerie Jo Garza, a fourth grader at Robb Elementary, was one of 19 students confirmed to be killed Tuesday morning by Ramos, who cops say was carrying a handgun and an AR-15 during the attack that also killed two teachers in the classroom.
Her grandmother, Berlinda Irene Arreola, said the 10-year-old was killed as she tried to phone 911 while sitting next to her best friend, who ended up ‘covered in her blood.’
‘So the gunman went in and he told the children, ‘You’re going to die,’ Berlinda told The Daily Beast.
‘Andhad her phone and she called 911. And instead of grabbing it and breaking it or taking it from her, he shot her. She was sitting right next to her best friend. Her best friend was covered in her blood.’
Uziyah Garcia, 8
Uziyah Garcia, the youngest victim at age eight, was also killed in the attack.
The child’s family announced he was killed hours after announcing he was among the many children unaccounted for following the tragedy.
The boy’s grandfather, Manny Renfro, broke the news early Wednesday after being notified by authorities.
‘[He was] the sweetest little boy that I’ve ever known,’ Renfro said. ‘I’m not just saying that because he was my grandkid.’
Renfro recalled how Uziyah last visited him in San Angelo over spring break.
‘We started throwing the football together and I was teaching him pass patterns.
‘Such a fast little boy and he could catch a ball so good,’ the grieving grandad said.
‘There were certain plays that I would call that he would remember and he would do it exactly like we practiced.’
Makenna Elrod, 10
Makenna Elrod, 10, had also been among the missing in the chaos that followed the massacre, with her father, Brandon Elrod telling reporters at the time he feared ‘she may not be alive.’
Her death was eventually confirmed by a family friend on Wednesday. ‘It’s pretty sad what this world’s coming to,’ the girl’s father told local outlet KTRK after the shooting.
A mother of one of Makenna’s friends lamented the loss in a post to Facebook.
‘Sweet Makenna Rest in Paradise!! My heart is shattered as my daughter Chloe loved her so much!!’ the mom wrote. A relative Wednesday confirmed that the girl had been among the victims.
Xavier Lopez, 10
Xavier Lopez, 10, was the first student victim to be identified as one of Ramos’ victims.
The chi ld’s mother, Felicha Martinez, told the Washington Post Tuesday that just hours before the massacre, the mom had been at the school to see her son participate an honor roll ceremony.
She took a picture showing her son showing off his certificate.
In the last exchange she had with the child, the mom heartbreakingly told the boy that she was proud of him and that she loved him, giving him a hug goodbye – not knowing it would be the last time she would see him alive.
‘He was funny, never serious and his smile… that smile I will never forget,’ she recalled after learning of his death from police. ‘It would always cheer anyone up.’
The boy’s cousin, Lisa Garza, 54, of Arlington, said Xavier enjoyed swimming and had been looking forward to the summer.
‘He was just a loving 10-year-old little boy, just enjoying life, not knowing that this tragedy was going to happen today,’ she said.
‘He was very bubbly, loved to dance with his brothers, his mom. This has just taken a toll on all of us.’
Amelia Sandoval, Lopez’s grandmother, said: ‘It’s just so hard… you send your kids to school thinking they are going to make it back home but they’re not.’
Eliahana Torres, 10
Eliahana Cruz Torres, 10, had also been missing for hours until she was confirmed to be among the dead.
Adolfo Cruz, her great-grandfather, said she didn’t want to attend school the day of the shooting – but was told by her family that she had to attend.
He said he remained outside the school gates throughout the night until he leanrned of her fate from local authorities.
‘I hope she is alive,’ he said at the time.
Torres was an avid baseball player and played the sport in a local little league.
Ellie Lugo, 10
Ellie Lugo was named as a victim of Tuesday’s attack by her parents, with Steven Garcia and Jennifer Lugo confirming her death several hours after she was listed among the missing.
‘It’s hard to issue out a statement on anything right now my mind is going at 1000 miles per hour… but I do wanna send our thoughts and prayers to those who also didn’t make it home tonight!!! Our Ellie was a doll and was the happiest ever,’ Steven Lugo said Wednesday.
‘Mom and Dad love you never forget that and please try and stay by our side.’
Nevaeh Bravo, 10
Nevaeh Bravo was confirmed to be among the dead late Tuesday, after her cousin posted on social media following the shooting to ask for helping the girl.
Around 9 pm, she broke the news on Twitter.
‘Unfortunately my beautiful Nevaeh was one of the many victims from todays tragedy,’ she wrote.
Sje said the schoolchild was ‘flying high’ and asked for the family to be kept in people’s prayers
‘Our Nevaeh has been found. She is flying with the angels above. We love you Navaeh very much princess.’
‘Thank you for the support and help,’ she wrote. ‘Rest in peace my sweet girl, you didn’t deserve this.’
Bravo’s age could not immediately be confirmed.
Tess Marie Mata
Tess Marie Mata was also among those to perish in the attack, her sister, Faith Mata, revealed in a post to Facebook Wednesday.
‘I honestly have no words just sadness, confusion, and anger,’ she wrote.
‘I’m sad because we will never get to tag team on mom and dad again and tell each other how much we mean to each other, I’m confused because how can something like this happen to my sweet, caring, and beautiful sister, and I’m angry because a coward took you from us.’
Photos shared with the post showed Tess smiling in a baby photo, snuggling with a cat, doing gymnastics, flashing a peace sign, and posing in front of a large heart mural.
‘Sissy I miss you so much, I just want to hold you and tell you how pretty you are, I want to take you outside and practice softball, I want to go on one last family vacation, I want to hear your contagious laugh, and I want you to hear me tell you how much I love you,’ she wrote.
Her age could not immediately be confirmed.
Rojelio Torres, 10
Rojelio Torres, 10, was initially reported missing by his father, but on Wednesday was confirmed dead by his family.
A person who said she was the boy’s cousin wrote on Twitter: ‘It breaks my heart to say my rojelio is now with the angels I’ll forever miss you and love you my angel.’
The child’s father , Federico Torres, told Houston reporters that he was at work when he learned about the shooting and immediately raced to the school.
‘They sent us to the hospital, to the civic center, to the hospital and here again, nothing, not even in San Antonio,’ he said. ‘They don’t tell us anything, only a photo, wait, hope that everything is well.’
Nearly half a day later, cops broke the news to the boy’s family.
‘Our entire family waited almost 12 hours since the shooting to find out Rojelio Torres, my 10-year-old nephew, was killed in this tragedy,’ Torres’ aunt, Precious Perez, told KSAT. ‘We are devastated and heartbroken. Rojer was a very intelligent, hard-working and helpful person. He will be missed and never forgotten.’
Jayce Carmelo Luevanos, 10
Jayce Luevanos, 10, died in the shooting along with his ten-year-old cousin, Jailah, the child’s mother said Wednesday.
In a Facebook post, uncle Unberto Gonzalez shared photos of both kids while offering a touching tribute.
‘My babies going to miss them like crazy!!!,’ Gonzalez wrote. ‘We luv y’all so much!!! I’m just lost right now!!! Fly high my beautiful Angels!!’
Jailah Nicole Silguero, 10
Ten-year-old Jailah Nicole Silguero was also killed in the shooting, her mother, Veronica Luevanos, tearfully revealed to Univision Wednesday.
She also lost her 10-year-old nephew Jayce to the tragedy.
She said Jailah loved to dance and film videos on TikTok.
The child reportedly also asked her mom the morning of the shooting if she could stay home from school – a request the now mourning mom rebuffed.
‘I took her to school, but she didn’t want to go. She told her father, ‘Can I stay home?” Luevanos said, noting that it was not a common occurrence for her daughter to make such a request. ‘I think she knew something would happen.’
Luevanos’ mom confirmed the loss on Facebook Wednesday.
‘Fly high my angels. We’re going to miss yall so much,’ wrote Veronica Luevanos – whose dad had died just a week earlier.
‘I’m so heart broken,’ she wrote with a photo of her daughter and nephew.
‘My baby I love u so much … fly high baby girl.’
Alithia Ramirez, 10
Fourth grader Alithia Ramirez was confirmed dead early Wednesday by her father, Ryan Ramirez, who shared a post to Facebook showing the 10-year-old with angel’s wings. He had used the same photo the previous day as he pleaded for help finding her after the massacre
He had heartbreakingly used the same photo the previous day as he desperately pleaded for help finding her after the massacre.
‘Trying to find my daughter Alithia. I called all the hospitals and nothing,’ he wrote at the time.
He also reporters during his frantic search, ‘I’m trying to find out where my baby’s at.’
Annabell Guadalupe Rodriguez, 10
Annabell Guadalupe Rodriguez
Annabell Guadalupe Rodriguez, 10, was another killed by Ramos Tuesday – along with her cousin, who has yet to be identified.
Annabell’s father spent the afternoon after the shooting in frantic search for his daughter.
Speaking to KHOU11 Tuesday, he lamented at how he was at a loss as to what do, having little success with the search.
‘They’re not letting us in at the hospital right now so we don’t know where to go.’
She has since been declared to be among the dead.
Miranda Mathis, 11
Miranda Mathis, 11, was also confirmed as another casualty from the mass shooting early Wednesday, in a Facebook post by an older cousin who earlier that day had posted a desperate plea for help in locating the child.
‘My sweet baby cousin we loved u dearly,’ Deanna Miller wrote alongside a photo of the child with angel wings.
‘I’m so sorry this happen to u baby please keep my family in your prayers,’ she grieved.
Miller’s kids had also been at the school at the time of the shooting, but survived the attack.
One of her sons told her that they were ushered out of a window by staffers during the attack and subsequently ran to a nearby funeral home after ‘he heard the shooter say he was gonna kill all the kids.’
Alexandria ‘Lexi’ Aniyah Rubio, 10
Alexandria Aniyah Rubio – who was better known to friends as ‘Lexi’ – was confirmed dead just before midnight on Tuesday.
The ten-year-old was shot dead just hours after posing for a photo with her parents at the school’s honor roll ceremony.
Kimberly Mata-Rubio, the girl’s mother, wrote of the loss: ‘My beautiful, smart, Alexandria Aniyah Rubio was recognized today for All-A honor roll. She also received the good citizen award. We told her we loved her and would pick her up after school. We had no idea this was goodbye.’
Maite Yuleana was another student to die in the attack that had attended the honor roll ceremony just hours before.
A cousin of the girl’s mother, Ana Rodriguez, announced the loss Wednesday.
‘It is with a heavy heart I come on here on behalf of my cousin Ana who lost her sweet baby girl in yesterday’s senseless shooting.
‘We are deeply saddened by the lose [sic] of this sweet smart little girl…. God bless and may she R.I.P Maite Rodriguez we love you.’
Another relative shared a photo of Maite with her honor roll certificate.
Her age could not immediately be confirmed.
Jose Flores Jr, 10
Jose Flores, 10, was also killed in the shooting after attending the honor roll ceremony, where he was pictured triumphantly clutching a certificate celebrating the accomplishment.
Uncle Christopher Salazar confirmed to the Washington Post Wednesday that his 10-year-old nephew was among the dead, after sharing a tribute to the child on Facebook.
‘I love you and I miss you,’ Salazar wrote in the post.
The boy’s father described Jose to CNN as an amazing boy and big brother to his two younger siblings.
‘He was always fill of energy,’ Jose Flores Sr. said. ‘Ready to play till the night.’
He said the boy loved playing baseball and video games.
Jackie Cazares, 10
Jackie Cazares, 10, was another to be killed during the vicious attack at the elementary school.
Her father Jacinto confirmed she lost her life inside her fourth-grade classroom.
‘My baby girl has been taken away from my family and I,’ the grieving father said in an online post.
‘We’re devastated in ways I hope no one ever goes through. … It hurts us to our souls.’
Cazares said his daughter, who was with her cousin, Annabell Rodriguez, when she died, was ‘full of life and love’.
Layla Salazar, 10
The 10-year-old student was the last of the slaying victims to be identified.
Vincent Salazar told the Philadelphia Inquirer his young daughter was among those killed.
He said she was ‘a lot of fun’ and recalled how they sang along to ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ by Guns ‘n’ Roses whenever he drove her to school.
Irma Garcia, 46 – fourth grade teacher
Irma Garcia, who co-taught with Mireles for the last five year, had been at Robb Elementary for 23 years.
Married to Joe for 24 years, she was a mother of four – Cristian, completing Marine boot camp; Jose, attending Texas State university University; Lyliana, a sophomore in high school; and Alysandra, a 7th grader.
‘My tia did not make it, she sacrificed herself protecting the kids in her classroom, i beg of you to keep my family including all of her family in y’all’s prayers , IRMA GARCIA IS HER NAME and she died a HERO,’ tweeted her nephew John.
‘She was loved by many and will truly be missed.’
She was nominated as teacher of the year for the 2018-19 awards, organized by Trinity University.
Eva Mireles, 44 – fourth grade teacher
Eva Mireles, a fourth grade teacher, was identified by her family as being one of the staff members shot dead. She had worked in education for 17 years.
Her husband Ruben Ruiz, a veteran detective and SWAT team member currently serving as a police officer with the school district, held regular active shooter drills for the schools – most recently at the end of March.