The National Rifle Association is under fire for banning weapons at its upcoming NRA Institute for Legislative Action Leadership Forum, which will take place May 4. Vice President Mike Pence will be speaking at the event.
On the announcement of Pence’s inclusion in the joint NRA-ILA Leadership Forum, the NRA added a disclaimer that “firearms and firearm accessories, knives or weapons of any kind” will be prohibited during his attendance. The NRA said that the United States Secret Service will be providing security at the event, so weapons are not allowed.
Outside of the Pence speaking event, the NRA said lawfully carried firearms will be permitted in the convention center and host hotel, encouraging attendees to follow federal, state and local laws on carrying firearms.
The NRA has championed the concept that good guys with guns will stop bad guys with guns since the organization’s conception. According to its website, the NRA wants gun owners to be able to defend their property and loved ones with their own firearms — and that owning a firearm is a symbol of freedom, rather than one of violence or destruction.
After the announcement, survivors of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting and members of its surrounding community began to outwardly criticize the ban, mostly via Twitter. Most of the tweets questioned why the NRA was banning guns in order to protect Pence but not to protect students and implied that the act was hypocritical.
Cameron Kasky, a survivor of the shooting, posted a screenshot of the disclaimer on Twitter. Following the announcement April 28, he tweeted the “NRA has evolved into a hilarious parody of itself.”
Parkland student Matt Deitsch responded to Kasky’s tweet with outrage. In his tweet, he wrote that “it sounds like the NRA wants to protect people who help them sell guns, not kids.”
Fred Guttenberg, father of 14-year-old Jaime Guttenberg who was killed in the attack, also criticized the NRA’s ban on firearms. He wrote multiple tweets saying the NRA’s ban is an acknowledgment of the true danger of guns, which is hypocritical in light of their claims of gun-owners not being a threat to the public.
“This is a removal of guns from a public building,” Guttenberg tweeted. “The NRA should be true to its values and ask [Trump] and [Pence] not to come if they cannot protect them with all those armed citizens. I think all citizens should be protected from the murderous impact of guns.”
Alyssa Milano, actress and advocate for gun control, has also started a petition demanding that Pence does not attend the conference, stating that his attendance shows “the NRA’s extremist agenda donations are more valuable to [him] than the lives lost.”
The conference will take place from May 3–6 at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas.