Vice President Mike Pence is slated to speak at the National Rifle Association's leadership forum in Dallas this Friday. But his presence has caused a change in typical protocol for the group.
The NRA's statement to attendees says that "Due to the attendance of the Vice President of the United States, the U.S. Secret Service will be responsible for event security at the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum. As a result, firearms and firearm accessories, knives or weapons of any kind will be prohibited in the forum prior to and during his attendance."
Attendees at NRA events are typically allowed to carry in accordance with local laws, and will be able to resume doing so after Pence leaves the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Arena. But regardless of the weapon ban being imposed by the Secret Service rather than the NRA, gun control groups, Parkland survivors, and even some NRA members are calling the move hypocritical.
On Twitter, a student co-founder of the March for Our Lives movement responded to the news, saying, "The NRA has evolved into such a hilarious parody of itself."
A parent whose 14-year-old was killed in the Parkland school massacre, Fred Guttenberg, tweeted, "On so many levels, this is enlightening. According to the NRA, we should want everyone to have weapons when we are in public. But when they put on a convention, the weapons are a concern? I thought giving everyone a gun was to enhance safety. Am I missing something?"
Matt Deitsch, a survivor of the Parkland killings, asked on Twitter why "to make the VP safe there aren't any weapons around but when it come to children they want guns everywhere?...It sounds like the NRA wants to protect people who help them sell guns, not kids."
But on the online forum TexasCHLforum.com, feedback was mixed. One user noted that the NRA was complying with laws that prohibit the carrying of guns where Secret Service protectees visit; user mloamiller said, "Just add it to the list of laws that need to be changed, since it very clearly sends a double-message." Another user, Grundy1133 said, "I've decided not to attend. Period."
User rtschl called out the fact that the media was accessing the forum, and accused outlets of twisting the words of commenters: "Concerted effort to malign the NRA by the media and leftists. They are very aware that it is the Secret Service that has exercised their authority to ban weapons, backpacks, drones, aerosols, signs, selfie sticks, etc. But it makes a great headline to say that the NRA isn't allowing guns.
Quit blaming the NRA! I wish every POTUS and VP would attend the NRA convention every year."
President Donald Trump will also attend the event, but the date and time has not yet been confirmed. It will be the fourth time Trump addresses the NRA — and he is the first president to have spoken to the group while in office.