Leaders in Kansas and Nebraska are each opening their doors to the National Rifle Association’s annual convention after a top Dallas official suggested the gun rights group find a different host city.
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, a Republican, took to Twitter on Friday to say that he and other residents in the Cornhusker State “love our constitutional rights” and welcome the convection in their state.
Kansas' Secretary of State Kris Kobach has also invited the group.
“I’ve already reached out to the @NRA and urged them to bring the #NRA convention to #KS.,” Kobach tweeted Friday. “Kansans love our right to keep and bear arms. Kansas is the most pro-gun state in America. Our right to keep and bear arms const. amendment passed by greater margins than any other state.”
Their remarks follow Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway, who in the aftermath of the deadly Valentine’s Day shooting at a Florida high school, said the NRA should “reconsider” coming to his city because “there will be marches and demonstrations.”
Seventeen people died at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., when accused gunman Nikolas Cruz, 19, opened fire with an AR-14 rifle.
The NRA has been criticized in the aftermath of the massacre by those who say the gun rights group is keeping lawmakers in Washington and across the country from passing measures that would curb gun violence.
Since the shooting, several companies have severed tied with the group, including Delta Airlines, Enterprise Holdings, First National Bank of Omaha, Symantec and MetLife. The First National Bank of Omaha said it would no longer issue NRA-branded VISA credit cards.
The annual NRA convention, which features meetings and exhibits over three days, routinely draws thousands of gun enthusiasts. This year’s event is set for May 4-6 at the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center in Dallas.
Following Caraway’s remarks, the NRA said after Caraway’s remarks that it will not consider moving the convention.
“Our members work in fire stations and police departments,” the group said. “They save lives in local hospitals and own businesses in communities urban and rural throughout this country. No politician anywhere can tell the NRA not to come to their city. We are already there.”
At the Conservative Political Action Conferences outside Washington, D.C., on Thursday, the gun right group’s chief executive Wayne LaPierre slammed critics.
“They don’t care about our schoolchildren,” LaPierre said Thursday. “They want to make all of us less free,” adding that Democrats are pushing a “socialist” agenda to deprive gun owners of their weapons.
“Socialism is a movement that loves a smear," he added.
Fox 4 News in Dallas and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
Correction: An earlier version of the article misidentified Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. The governor of Kansas is Jeff Colyer.