NRA remains defiant despite protests at convention

STORY: “As the age-old saying goes, the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

Former U.S. President Donald Trump spoke at the National Rifle Association convention in Houston, Texas on Friday - just days after a teen gunman killed 19 children and two teachers in a south Texas school.

He was among several high profile Republicans who decried demands for new gun control laws at the opening day of three-day event, calling instead for drastic changes in the country’s approach to mental health and for teachers to be trained to carry a gun on school grounds.

“It would be so much better and so much more effective even from a cost standpoint, because there is no sign more inviting to a mass killer than a sign that declares a gun-free zone, the most dangerous place.”

NRA CEO Wayne Lapierre doubled down on the argument that gun restrictions would do little to stop mass shootings.

"We, the NRA, will never ever stop fighting for the right of the innocent and the law-abiding to defend themselves against the evil, criminal element that plagues our society."

Outside the convention centre, about 500 protesters held signs and photos of victims from Tuesday’s school shooting.

The deadly event, coming 10 days after a shooting in Buffalo, New York killed 10 people, has renewed many people’s anger at the NRA, the nation's biggest gun lobby and a major donor to Congress members, mostly Republicans.

But the NRA's decision to go ahead with its largest annual gathering despite the tragedies is part of a decades-long strategy of standing up to pressure for gun control, dating back to the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado in 1999.