Following this week’s horrific mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, some expected the National Rifle Association (NRA) to cancel its annual meeting and lavish gun show, which begins today in Houston. The city, on the other hand, is bound by a contract that prevents it from canceling the show unilaterally. However, the mayor, Democrat Sylvester Turner, asked the gun group to postpone the event voluntarily. They refused.

Of course, this is to be expected. The NRA has never let a mass shooting prevent people from getting together for fun and profit. Gillian Brockell of the Washington Post reminded us this week that they did the same thing after Columbine, the first of the modern school shootings that have plagued America for more than two decades. That massacre occurred in Littleton, Colorado, a Denver suburb where the NRA convention was scheduled to take place just days later. In that case, the mayor of Denver told them that the city didn’t want them there and even offered to pay them for their trouble if they canceled. They continued to refuse.

Last year, NPR correspondent Tim Mak obtained some recorded calls between NRA officials shortly after Columbine, which revealed that their primary concern at the time was that canceling the meeting would make them appear weak.

After considering establishing a “victims fund” but deciding that it would appear as an admission of guilt, their only compromise was to cancel the gun show portion of their convention and reduce their gathering to just one day. According to Brockell, NRA president Charlton Heston went on to deliver a memorable speech that year, “blaming the media for scapegoating NRA members as somehow responsible for the tragedy, while ‘racing’ to ‘drench their microphones with victims’ tears.” The following year, he returned to deliver one of history’s most famous culture war speeches:

Those are the famous final words of his speech, but he said much more. Heston declared war, saying:

I believe we are once again in the midst of a great civil war, a cultural war that is about to usurp your birthright to think and say what is on your mind. I’m sure you no longer believe in the pulsing lifeblood of liberty within you, the stuff that propelled this country from wilderness to miracle…

That was nearly a quarter-century ago, so all the recent wailing about “cancel culture” is just a new name for the same culture war that’s been going on for years. And guns have been at the center of the controversy because the NRA placed them there.

In recent years, the NRA has been rocked by scandal, with LaPierre at the center of it. While he remains the organization’s president, the state of New York has filed a lawsuit against him and others for allegations that, if proven, “tell a grim story of greed, self-dealing, and lax financial oversight at the highest levels of the National Rifle Association.” The same judge ruled that the New York Attorney General lacked the authority she claimed to dissolve the organization entirely. So the NRA will survive one way or another.

Most commentators believe the organization has lost clout as a result of its bankruptcy and subsequent spending far less than in previous election cycles. And it could be past its prime. Politicians are no longer afraid of Wayne LaPierre or the NRA’s money. But they are afraid of their own voters, who have become so accustomed to the NRA’s propaganda that they no longer require prompting from the organization. They believe Charlton Heston’s words in their bones.