Mark Robinson, the state’s lieutenant governor, is poised to offer thoughts and prayers at a National Rifle Association event this weekend in Texas, not far from where 19 elementary students and two adults were killed in a mass shooting.

But given his literally breathtaking support for gun rights, he and his fellow NRA attendees will do little to protect the children from future school shootings.

A North Carolina Democratic Party leader has denounced Robinson’s scheduled appearance at the NRA’s leadership forum over the Memorial Day weekend in Houston, Texas.

Ellie Dougherty, a spokeswoman with the NC Democratic Party, in a press statement this week said Robinson and the North Carolina Republican Party “are beholden to the National Rifle Association instead of protecting our children.” 

Robinson and Donald Trump are both scheduled to speak at the annual NRA-ILA Leadership Forum that kicks off today a little over 275 miles east of Uvalde where a heavily armed teen on Wednesday shot dead 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School.

“Just hours after a gunman murdered 21 people in Texas, Donald Trump and Republican leaders, including Mark Robinson, are still scheduled to speak at the NRA convention this week – making clear they stand with the gun lobby over our children,” Dougherty said. “Thoughts and prayers are not enough.”

The forum is billed on the NRA website as “one of the most politically significant and popular events in the country.”

Robinson, described on the event’s press release as an NRA board member, will be joined by a cast of political characters straight out of authoritarianism’s central casting office, including Trump, Senator Ted Cruz, NRA director Wayne LaPierre, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, and Texas Governor Greg Abbott, are among the panjandrums described on the NRA website as “our nation’s top Second Amendment leaders in government, the media, and the entertainment industry.”

The Texas politicians Abbott and Cruz, along with offering thoughts and prayers, have shown about as much sensitivity as a small farm animal for the shooting victims.

“I hate to say this but there are more people who are shot every weekend in Chicago than there are in schools in Texas,” Abbott said hours after the mass killings, as if reminders of the deadly gun violence in the Windy City offered comfort to the families of the little children and teachers murdered in Uvalde.

Robinson, before he was elected as lieutenant governor, garnered national attention among conservatives and gun rights advocates for cutting his political teeth asserting the rights of law-abiding gun owners who would turn their guns in at the behest of the government.

“But the Crips and Bloods on the other side of town? They’re not gonna turn their guns in,” said the man who would go on to become the first African American elected lieutenant governor in North Carolina during an April, 2018 city council meeting that went viral on social media.

Robinson, on his lieutenant governor’s website, notes that he “became a household name after he delivered an incredibly strong address to the Greensboro City Council defending the 2nd Amendment. This speech went viral and to- date has been viewed over 200 million times online.”

Meanwhile, Cruz, while attending a vigil for the shooting victims, “stormed away” from a Sky News reporter who asked him, “Why does this only happen in your country? …. Why only in America? Why is this American exceptionalism so awful?”

No surprise why Texas is hosting today’s NRA event: follow the money, coupled with a hysterical GOP voter base fed a steady diet of lies and fear rooted in guilt about the nation’s odious history of slavery, native American displacement, genocide, and the so-called replacement theory to understand why gun control legislation repeatedly falters.

Three days after a heavily armed teenaged white supremacist outfitted in tactical gear shot dead 10 Black people in Buffalo—and nearly three weeks before another person turned 18 and purchased two assault rifles to gun down school children in Uvalde—a three-judge panel that includes two Trump appointees on California’s US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit knocked down the state’s ban on the sale of semiautomatic rifle sales to anyone under 21.

Someone recently asked, what manner of madness possesses a country that outlaws The New York Times’ 1619 Project, but allows teens to purchase military assault rifles?

According to the nonpartisan, independent nonprofit Open Secrets, Texas members of the US Congress received more cash contributions from gun rights groups than legislators in any other state: “more than $14 million in contributions from gun rights interests over the course of their careers, with much of that coming from the NRA.”

In addition to being outgunned, gun control advocates are routinely outspent by gun rights lobbyists like the NRA. Open Secrets notes that between 1990 and 2020, the gun control advocates spent $25.4 million lobbying Congress. Gun rights groups spent $171.9 million. Similarly, during the same period, gun control advocates spent $33.4 million in campaign contributions, while gun rights groups donated $54.4 million in campaign contributions. Cruz has accepted more money from gun rights groups—$442,343—than any other member of US Congress.

As for Robinson, during the 2020 election cycle, he received $5,400 each from the NRA, Gun Owners of America, and HUCK PAC, the conservative political action committee founded by former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee.

According to local news outlets, Robinson released a statement after the mass murders at the school in Uvalde, about a three-hour drive away in Houston, where he will be the keynote speaker at a Sunday morning  “National Prayer Breakfast.” 

“The shooting in Uvalde, Texas was evil – pure and simple,” Robinson wrote. “The parents and family members who are without their loved ones and grieving – we are praying for you, and we grieve with you.

“No parent should have to fear that when they drop off their child in the morning, they won’t be coming home that afternoon. As a father, I know the love a parent has for their child, and I can only imagine the pain of losing a child in such a horrendous event. Such a loss is beyond comprehension for those of us that have not experienced it.

“Please join me in prayer for the victims of this tragedy, the community of Uvalde, and our nation.”

More thoughts and prayers from a rising star in the GOP ranks, but little by way of sensible gun control legislation to save the lives of America’s most innocent citizens.

The nation’s better angels must be weeping.

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