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 be keeping 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 at the event 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 Republicans who were scheduled to appear, have backed out for reasons they said are unrelated to the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, which is about 270 miles from Houston.
In a statement Wednesday, the NRA called the shooting a "horrific and evil crime" that was the work of a "lone, deranged criminal," while confirming 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 their "celebration of American freedom." It noted that it was the sixth time he was addressing 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 of both. During his presidency, Trump also supported a proposal to arm and train some teachers on how to use firearms.
Following the Las Vegas massacre in 2017, the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, Trump ordered a ban on bump stocks, a device the killer had used to fire his rifle more rapidly.
That 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 a gun.
Abbott said Wednesday that officials must "do a better job" to address mental health in communities across the country.
"Anyone who shoots somebody else has a mental health challenge. Period," he said during a press conference, while noting that the gunman who opened fire at Robb Elementary School had no known mental health history.