Former President Donald Trump said Wednesday he'll still speak at the National Rifle Association's annual meeting in Texas on Friday, days after a mass shooting at an elementary school in the state left at least 19 students and two teachers dead.
In a post on his social media platform, Truth Social, Trump said he would keep his "longtime commitment" to speak at the event in Houston because the country needs "real solutions and real leadership in this moment."
Others scheduled to speak include Republican Govs. Greg Abbott of Texas and Kristi Noem of South Dakota, as well as Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.
Sen. John Cornyn and Rep. Dan Crenshaw, two other prominent Texas Republicans who were scheduled to appear, have backed out for reasons they said are unrelated to the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, about 270 miles from Houston.
In a statement Wednesday, the NRA said the shooting was a "horrific and evil crime" that was the work of a "lone, deranged criminal," while it confirmed its annual event would go forward as planned.
"As we gather in Houston, we will reflect on these events, pray for the victims, recognize our patriotic members, and pledge to redouble our commitment to making our schools secure," the group wrote.
The NRA announced this month that Trump would headline "a star-studded cast of political heavyweights" at its "celebration of American freedom." It noted that it is the sixth time he will have addressed the group.
There were numerous mass shootings during Trump's four years in office.
After deadly attacks in Florida and Texas, Trump said he was open to legislation on tighter background checks and some form of "red flag" legislation, but he later backed off both. During his presidency, Trump also supported a proposal to arm some teachers and train them in how to use firearms.
After about 60 people were killed in a massacre in Las Vegas in 2017, the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, Trump ordered a ban on bump stocks, a device the killer used to fire his rifle more rapidly.
The same year, he signed a bill into law rolling back an Obama-era regulation that made it harder for people with mental illnesses to purchase guns.
Abbott said Wednesday that officials must "do a better job" of addressing mental health across the country.
"Anyone who shoots somebody else has a mental health challenge. Period," he said at a news conference while noting that the gunman who opened fire at Robb Elementary School had no known history of mental health issues.