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Daniel Defense, maker of gun used in Uvalde school shooting, withdraws from NRA convention

NRA holds convention days after Texas massacre
NRA holds convention days after Texas massacre 02:36

Daniel Defense, the manufacturer of a rifle used by the gunman in the deadly Uvalde elementary school shooting, said it has canceled its appearance at the annual NRA convention, which opened today in Houston. 

The Black Creek, Georgia-based company is one of several late withdrawals from the event, which is being held just days after a gunman killed 19 schoolchildren and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas,. In a statement on its website, the gun maker said that it "is our understanding that the firearm used in the attack was manufactured by Daniel Defense."

The shooter, who had bought two rifles prior to the massacre, brought only one of the guns into the school with him, which was the AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle made by Daniel Defense, according to The Texas Tribune. The other firearm was left in his truck. 

The National Rifle Association convention draws together firearms companies, gun enthusiasts and lawmakers — mostly Republicans — in an event that the gun rights group describes as "a freedom-filled weekend" to celebrate the Second Amendment, or the constitutional right to bear arms. 

Coming just days after the massacre, some performers and lawmakers are bowing out of the NRA convention, including three high-profile Republican lawmakers from Texas — Sen. John Cornyn, Rep. Dan Crenshaw and Gov. Greg Abbott — as well as "American Pie" singer Don McLean and country singer Larry Gatlin. Abbott opted to cancel a personal appearance and instead participate by video.

Former President Donald Trump is still scheduled to give a keynote address on Friday evening. Guns will not be allowed in the room where he is speaking, according to the NRA. 

Daniel Defense told CBS MoneyWatch that it withdrew from the gun show because of the shooting. 

"Daniel Defense is not attending the National Rifle Association meeting due to the horrifying tragedy in Uvalde, Texas, where one of our products was criminally misused," Steve Reed, vice president of marketing, said in an email. "We believe this week is not the appropriate time to be promoting our products in Texas at the NRA meeting."

Daniel Defense has sparked outrage this week for marketing images posted just days before the school shooting, such as one social media message that showed a toddler cradling a rifle with the caption, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he shall not depart from it."

A social media post from Daniel Defense, posted just days before one of its rifles was used to kill 19 children and two school teachers in Uvalde, Texas. Daniel Defense locked its Twitter account after the school shooting. Daniel Defense

Daniel Defense locked its Twitter account after the May 24 massacre.

Dozens of companies in the firearms industry are scheduled to appear at the NRA convention's floor show, including major gun makers Ruger, Beretta and Smith & Wesson, according to a floor plan of the Houston event. 

Pandemic aid

Daniel Defense received $3.1 million in federal Paycheck Protection Program loans during the pandemic, one of the larger loans given to a firearms manufacturer, according to government data. 

The loan, which was later forgiven as permitted under the program, was part of the U.S. government's effort to support small businesses with fewer than 500 employees early in the pandemic, when much of the economy was shuttered. Daniel Defense received the PPP loan from Cadence Bank in April 2020, and indicated that the money would be used for payroll for base of roughly 200 workers. 

More than 1,800 firearms-related businesses obtained PPP funds from the federal government, receiving a total of about $157 million in loans that were later forgiven, according to an analysis of government data by gun-control group Everytown USA. Out of those firearms companies that received aid, Daniel Defense procured the fourth-biggest loan from the federal government, their analysis found. 

Special Report: Texas officials say "wrong decision" delayed school shooting response 36:54

Gun sales boomed during the pandemic, with one in five households buying a firearm since the public health crisis erupted, according to research from NORC at the University of Chicago.

Daniel Defense's business saw increasing demand through 2020, according to data from the Violence Policy Center, which cited information from the ATF Annual Firearms Manufacturing and Export Report. The company produced almost 52,000 rifles and pistols in 2020, up from about 31,000 in 2019. 

In a statement posted to its website after the May 24 shooting, Daniel Defense said it is cooperating with law enforcement investigations into the attack and noted that it is keeping "the victims and the entire Uvalde community in our thoughts and our prayers." 

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