The Dallas mayor’s office and city council members are at odds with the decision to allow a scheduled NRA meeting to proceed in the wake of the Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, Parkland school shooting. 17 people were killed and 15 were injured at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in South Florida.
Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway urged the NRA to find a new home for its NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits convention, which is slated to take place May 4-6, 2018, at the city's Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.
"There will be marches and demonstrations should [the NRA] come to Dallas," Caraway warned.
In a statement released to the media on Monday, Feb. 19, 2018, Caraway said:
“Gun violence has played a significant part in Dallas’ historical past from the assassination of President John F. Kennedy to the five Dallas Police officers gunned down in July 2016 to the brutal murder of a mother of six children in District 4 this past Christmas. It is time to put the heat on the NRA and demand that they work with elected officials in our country to establish gun laws that protect our children and keep our communities safe.
"...I am all for the protection of the 2nd Amendment but I am also for protecting the children and a safer Dallas," he added. "We must get rid of these assault weapons to protect the children and we must do something now.”
According to Dallas News, Caraway followed up his written comments with a news conference outside City Hall pointing toward the history of gun violence in Dallas, referencing the 1963 assassination of John F. Kennedy and the more recent July 7, 2016, ambush on a group of police officers during a protest against police killings.
Caraway called for the NRA to "come to the table" and be part of a solution.
"I would hope they would be sensitively moral themselves at some point," he said of the NRA. "I would hope that the NRA would be watching, as I'm sure they are, around the country what has just taken place.
"They have children. They have families," Caraway continued. "At some point, they need to understand, and I think they do, that there will be opposition when they come here."
NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam stated that the NRA is coming to Dallas whether Caraway likes it or not.
“No politician anywhere can tell the NRA not to come to their city,” Arulanandam told WFAA News 8 in Dallas, mentioning that the group is ready to return to Texas in 2018. “We are already there.”
Meanwhile, in a written statement, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said:
“We’re always working to be a welcoming city for people and organizations of diverse backgrounds and beliefs.
"But of course I’m concerned about the image of Dallas as the host of this convention. I know I’m one of many Dallasites who doesn’t agree with the NRA’s viewpoints or tactics. However, they have a legal contract that was signed in 2012 and I’m not advocating that we violate that agreement. Hopefully we will take the opportunity in Dallas to engage in meaningful dialogue about how we work together to end mass killings in America.”
When reached for comment, Visit Dallas (the Dallas CVB) responded with the following statement:
“We have been in contact with the Mayor’s office, and we support the city’s position.”
Other city council members have already spoken out against the annual NRA Convention being held in Dallas, including Kevin Felder, who represents South Dallas and Far East Dallas. Felder tweeted the day after the Florida shooting: “Let me be the first councilman to oppose the NRA Convention in Dallas!”
The annual NRA event, scheduled for May 4-6, 2018, in Dallas, includes exhibits and the legal sale of guns. Caraway is calling for the NRA to stay out of Dallas and work with politicians to establish stricter gun laws.
According to Dallas News, Travis County commissioners in 2013 considered banning gun shows at the county's expo center but ultimately voted such a measure down. At the time the presiding attorney general and now governor, Greg Abbott, warned of "a double-barreled lawsuit" if the county moved ahead with the ban.
The Dallas News has since published an opinion piece from City Columnist Rober Wilonsky, which claims the NRA "is getting $400,000 in free rent," after receiving a discount from the city and the local tourism bureau.
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