Seventy-two hours after a gunman killed 19 children and two adults at a Texas primary school, the annual National Rifle Association (NRA) convention is going ahead in the state – promising “14 acres of the latest guns and gear”.
Former president Donald Trump is scheduled to speak.
The gathering comes as some of America’s largest gun and ammunition manufacturers have seen their stock prices rise ahead of what investors believe will be a rush to buy more weapons.
High school dropout Salvador Ramos went on a murderous rampage in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday – the deadliest US school shooting in nearly a decade.
And while the NRA issued a message of condolence to the families, it said the atrocity was the “act of a lone, deranged criminal” and its three-day convention is going ahead as planned, opening on Friday morning.
Also scheduled to speak is senator Ted Cruz, who stormed off on Thursday when Sky’s Mark Stone asked him about gun reform in the wake of the massacre.
The NRA’s annual meeting was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID pandemic. Despite the controversy surrounding this year’s event, a number of high-profile Republicans are set to take part.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott cancelled his in-person appearance, deciding instead to send a video message.
It comes after he was heckled by Democrat rival Beto O’Rourke over his stance on guns during a news briefing about the massacre earlier this week.
Smith & Wesson Brands stock climbed 8.4% in the wake of the massacre, while Sturm, Ruger & Co has jumped about 5.7%, and ammunition maker Olin Corp went up 3.8%.
It comes as a bipartisan group of senators pledged to look at ways of passing new federal laws aimed at keeping weapons out of the hands of potential mass murderers.
An effort to introduce a bill following the racist killing of 10 people at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, earlier this month, was blocked with a 47-47 vote on Thursday.
This legislation was aimed at combating domestic terrorism and the rise of white supremacist groups, and it is widely believed that a compromise over gun restrictions will be even more difficult to get across the line.