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Houston NRA convention: Gov. Abbott to remain in Uvalde, will provide taped message for convention

Following the school shooting that left 21 people dead, a number of high-profile guests dropped from the Houston NRA event.

HOUSTON — The National Rifle Association (NRA) is set to hold a convention in Houston just days after a mass shooting took place at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

Following the school shooting that left 21 people dead, a number of high-profile guests dropped from the Houston NRA event.

RELATED: Police: Texas gunman walked through apparently unlocked door

"American Pie" singer Don McLean was set to perform at the event but dropped out.

"In light of the recent events in Texas, I have decided it would be disrespectful and hurtful for me to perform for the NRA at their convention in Houston this week," he said in a statement.

"I'm sure all the folks planning to attend this event are shocked and sickened by these events as well. After all, we are all Americans," the statement continued.

McLean's statement concluded, "I share the sorrow for this terrible, cruel loss with the rest of the nation."

Lee Greenwood also announced he would not perform.

"As a father, I join the rest of America in being absolutely heartbroken by the horrific event that transpired this week in Texas. I was scheduled to perform at NRA’s private event on Saturday with my band. After thoughtful consideration, we have decided to cancel the appearance out of respect for those mourning the loss of those innocent children and teachers in Uvalde.

"During this Memorial Day Weekend, we should also remember the servicemen and women, and first responders who’ve given their lives to protect our great country. Please join me to pay our respects as we unite together as would be the most appropriate measure at this time."

Key speakers still attending

Former President Donald Trump is still scheduled to headline the event. Guns won't be allowed in the auditorium where the former president will be speaking.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is also set to take the stage at the convention. Gov. Abbott was scheduled to appear in-person, but will instead lead a video message. The governor will instead be in Uvalde for a news conference Friday afternoon.

Contributions to NRA and gun lobby

Over the course of his political career, which began in 2012, Cruz has accepted $176,284 in political donations from the NRA, according to the nonprofit group OpenSecrets and the Texas Ethics Commission.

Gov. Abbott has accepted $16,200 in political donations from the NRA and the Texas State Rifle Association over the course of his political career, which began in 2002.

John Cornyn, who canceled his appearance at the NRA prior to the mass shooting in Uvalde, has received $583,816 from the NRA over his 20-year political career, according to OpenSecrets.org. Dan Crenshaw, who also withdrew from the NRA Convention before the Uvalde mass shooting, has received $5,665 from the NRA since 2018, per OpenSecrets.org.

Open secrets also has the total for members of Congress from all gun rights during their career. Cruz is #1 in Congress, Cornyn #3 and Crenshaw #19

Calls for cancellation

There have been calls for the NRA convention to be canceled or held at a location not in Texas.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner on Wednesday said the city was unable to cancel the convention citing legal issues.

"The convention has been on the books for more than two years," Turner said during a City Council meeting on Wednesday. "It's a contractual arrangement. We simply cannot cancel a conference or convention because we do not agree with the subject matter."

RELATED: 'We simply cannot cancel' | Mayor Turner says NRA meeting will go on as scheduled

Protests planned

The convention, which is set to be held at the George R. Brown Convention Center, is expected to be met with protest.

"Our children are dying in schools because of laws they created that made it easier for them to happen," Ashton Woods, with Black Lives Matter Houston, said. "So, the message is people can go home."

Houston police on Thursday tweeted out a photo of designated protest and counter-protest zones across the street from the convention center at Discovery Green.

Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said there will be a heavy police presence at the convention center and the protests.

"You will see officers everywhere," he said.

Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña said the fire department will also be on hand to provide support.

RELATED: Protest planned for NRA's annual meeting at George R. Brown Convention Center

Despite calls for cancellation, the NRA convention is still set to go on.

"Our deepest sympathies are with the families and victims involved in this horrific and evil crime. On behalf of our members, we salute the courage of school officials, first responders and others who offered their support and services," the NRA said in a statement.

"Although an investigation is underway and facts are still emerging, we recognize this was the act of a lone, deranged criminal. 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 statement continued.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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