Gunmaker of rifle used in Texas school shooting backs out of NRA convention

"We believe this week is not the appropriate time to be promoting our products in Texas at the NRA meeting," gunmaker Daniel Defense says.

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Days after 19 students and two educators were fatally shot at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, the manufacturer of one of the shooter’s firearms has withdrawn from showing at the annual National Rifle Association convention in Houston.

A semiautomatic rifle made by Daniel Defense was reportedly used by the gunman, who between May 18 and 20 legally purchased two AR-style guns as well as 375 rounds of ammunition soon after turning the legal age of 18, the Texas Tribune reports.

“Daniel Defense is not attending the National Rifle Association meeting due to the horrifying tragedy in Uvalde, Texas, where one of our products was criminally misused,” Steve Reed, vice president of marketing, told CBS News. “We believe this week is not the appropriate time to be promoting our products in Texas at the NRA meeting.”

A man places his hand on a cross bearing the names of the victims of a mass shooting in front of Robb Elementary School on May 26, 2022 in Uvalde, Texas. (Photo by Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images)

The Georgia-based firearms company said in a statement on its website that it will “cooperate with all federal, state, and local law enforcement authorities in their investigations.”

Each year during the NRA convention, gun manufacturers, owners, advocates and elected officials gather in celebration of the Second Amendment right to bear arms. But this year, CBS News reported, a number of scheduled attendees have canceled their appearances since the shooting, which the Tribune reported was the deadliest in state history.

Gov. Greg Abbott, Sen. John Cornyn and Rep. Dan Crenshaw are among well-known Republican lawmakers who have opted out of appearing in person at the event in 2022, joined by singers Don Mclean and Larry Gatlin. Abbott participated by a pre-recorded video instead, CBS News reported.

Per the outlet, on Friday, former President Donald Trump gave a keynote address during the convention and appeared to reference the conservative political leaders’ absences, stating: “Unlike some others, I didn’t disappoint you by not showing up today.”

According to the report, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner estimated 80,000 attendees throughout the weekend convention, which returns in person this year after being canceled in 2020 and 2021. A floorplan of the convention shows the many major gun manufacturers still showcasing at the convention, including  Smith & Wesson, Ruger and Beretta.

The firearms industry saw a sharp rise in sales during the pandemic, per the NORC at the University of Chicago, with 20% of households purchasing a gun since the onset of the pandemic. According to the Violence Policy Center, Daniel Defense’s production increased from 31,000 firearms in 2019 to nearly 52,000 firearms in 2020.

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