NC’s Mark Robinson delivers fiery address at NRA forum, vowing to protect gun rights

·6 min read

North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson delivered a fiery defense of gun ownership at the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting in Houston, vowing to continue fighting against supporters of stricter gun laws who he said want to disarm all Americans.

“I am here today, much to the chagrin of many of the leftists back home in my state, who thought I should cower and stay home and not come here,” Robinson said during the NRA Institute for Legislative Action’s Annual Leadership Forum on Friday.

The NRA’s decision to move ahead with the three-day annual gathering as planned has come under intense scrutiny this week after a shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday left 19 children and two teachers dead. Multiple high-profile Republicans scaled back or canceled their plans to speak at the event, including Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who delivered recorded remarks to the crowd instead of appearing in-person.

Robinson spoke for a little over 10 minutes on Friday. He said he was “heartbroken” by the shooting in Uvalde, and called for schools across the country to be provided with as much security as is provided to places like airports and banks.

He also claimed, to loud cheers from the audience, that federal lawmakers calling for more stringent gun regulations were “determined to leave the law-abiding, patriotic citizens of this nation unarmed, and defenseless.”

“Well I’m here to tell you right now — get your pencils out, lick them and get ready to write this down — it is not going to happen,” Robinson roared over the microphone. “We are not going to go off into that good night, without standing up for our rights.”

On Thursday, prior to the convention, Robinson said in a statement that the shooting in Uvalde “was evil — pure and simple,” and said he was praying for the parents and families of the children and school teachers who were killed.

Critics say Robinson is ‘beholden’ to NRA

Ahead of his speech on Friday, the North Carolina Democratic Party released a letter signed by 760 parents addressed to Robinson, stating that “thoughts and prayers are not enough,” and that Robinson’s appearance at the convention would show he is “beholden to the NRA instead of protecting North Carolina children.”

“We demand to know — how many children do you need to see gunned down, communities torn apart, and lives upended, before you’ll finally decide to put lives ahead of the gun lobby and actually do something to stop this senseless violence?” the letter states.

In addition to parents, the letter was also signed by some Democratic members of the state legislature, including Reps. John Ager of Buncombe County, Vernetta Alston of Durham County, and Allison Dahle and Rosa Gill of Wake County; as well as Sens. Jay Chaudhuri of Wake County and Jeff Jackson and Mujtaba Mohammed of Mecklenburg County.

The letter also states that if he has “any decency or respect for parents across North Carolina and this nation,” Robinson should pull out of the convention and “get to work for the people of North Carolina.”

Robinson, a fervent supporter of gun rights, has frequently spoken about the importance of preserving the Second Amendment’s protections of gun ownership.

In April 2018, before he ran for lieutenant governor, Robinson delivered an impassioned defense of “law-abiding” gun owners during a Greensboro City Council meeting.

A clip of his remarks was shared by then-U.S. Rep. Mark Walker on Facebook and went viral. The remarks would later propel him to the second-highest position in North Carolina’s executive branch, when he won the lieutenant governor’s race in 2020, The News & Observer previously reported.

Top Texas GOP figures pull out of NRA event

After Tuesday’s shooting, former President Donald Trump, the headline speaker at Friday’s event, confirmed that he was going through with his planned appearance, in a post on his social media platform Truth Social.

But multiple other prominent GOP figures said they were backing out of the event.

In addition to Abbott, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick canceled his appearance, saying that he is a strong supporter of the NRA but did not want his appearance to “bring any additional pain or grief to the families and all those suffering in Uvalde.”

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn and U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw, both from Texas, also pulled out of the event. They said they couldn’t attend because of scheduling conflicts that came up before Tuesday’s shooting, according to the Texas Tribune.

In addition to Trump and Robinson, other speakers who spoke during Friday’s forum include U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem.

Robinson is also scheduled to deliver the keynote address at the NRA’s National Prayer Breakfast on Sunday morning.

Protesters renew calls for gun control

The shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde on Tuesday was the deadliest school shooting since the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012, which left 20 children and six adults dead.

In another shooting in 2018, at a high school in Parkland, Florida, 17 students and staff members were killed.

School shootings have occurred each year over the last four decades, except in 2020, when most schools canceled in-person classes because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Protests calling on lawmakers in Washington, D.C. and in state legislatures to take action, specifically to enact some kinds of restrictions on access to guns, have already sprung up in light of Tuesday’s shooting in Texas.

Adeline Sanders, 9, and her mother, Melony Malloy listen to speakers during a vigil for victims of gun violence at Bicentennial Plaza in Raleigh, N.C., Thursday, May 26, 2022.
Adeline Sanders, 9, and her mother, Melony Malloy listen to speakers during a vigil for victims of gun violence at Bicentennial Plaza in Raleigh, N.C., Thursday, May 26, 2022.

In Raleigh, the Carolina Peace Center organized a vigil and march for the people who died in Texas and in another shooting on May 14 at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York.

Dozens of people gathered with signs that said “protect the kids not the guns” and “keep us safe,” and later marched through Bicentennial Plaza chanting “kids’ lives matter.”

Standing in front of a backdrop of the General Assembly building where lawmakers meet, Faisal Khan, the founder of the Carolina Peace Center, read the names of the 19 children and two teachers who were killed in Texas on Tuesday.

“These are the victims of gun violence that is rupturing our country and destroying our nation, and destabilizing our democratic system,” Khan said. “And I refuse now, to take a moment of silence, because we’re tired of being silent, over and over.

“I’m tired of holding vigils, and I’m tired and fed up of our lawmakers not doing anything.”

For more North Carolina government and politics news, listen to the Under the Dome politics podcast from The News & Observer and the NC Insider. You can find it at https://campsite.bio/underthedome or wherever you get your podcasts.

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