(DALLAS) — The mayor of Dallas urged the National Rifle Association on Monday to find another city to host its annual convention, taking a stand against gun violence in the wake of last week’s deadly mass shooting in Florida.
Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway said that the NRA, the nation’s largest gun lobby, would be met with “marches and demonstrations” if it went ahead with plans to host the three-day meeting scheduled for May 4-6.
“It is a tough call when you ask the NRA to reconsider coming to Dallas, but it is putting all citizens first, and getting them to come to the table and elected officials to come to the table and to address this madness now,” Caraway told reporters on Monday. “At the end of the day, we need to connect the dots. The NRA needs to step up to the plate, and they need to show leadership.”
“I am saddened the fact that every time that we turn around is some type of gun violence,” he added.
If the NRA moved its event, that could cost Dallas as much as $40 million, according to some estimates.
Caraway, a self-proclaimed strong “believer” in the second amendment, said the NRA has a national responsibility “to address this madness now” as he called on the group to help establish better gun laws.
“We should not allow people to possess assault rifles and weapons,” he said. “While we are worrying about terrorists, we’re living in a terrorist society amongst us Americans today.”
“The NRA needs to step up to the plate and they need to show leadership,” he added.
The 147th NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits, slated to take place at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention center, is expected to attract more than 80,000 gun enthusiasts, according to the organization’s website.
A representative for the NRA pushed back against Caraway’s criticism in a statement to ABC affiliate WFAA.
“No politician anywhere can tell the NRA not to come to their city. We are already there,” Andrew Arulanandam, the NRA’s managing director of public affairs, told WFAA. “Dallas, like every American city and community, is populated by NRA members.”
The NRA, which regularly backs Republican politicians, has come under intense pressure in the aftermath of the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, where a former student allegedly used an AR-15 rifle to kill 17 people.
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