This year I attended for the first time the NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits, which were held in Houston, Texas from May 3-5 at the George R. Brown Convention Center. The NRA reported that 82,228 people attended – a record number (previous high was 73,740). They also reported an 86% increase over the previous year in new memberships and membership upgrades, a 54% increase in NRA store sales, and largest ever sums raised at the Foundation Banquet, Institute for Legislative Action dinner, and Women’s Leadership Forum. I have no way to verify these numbers; at the same time, I have no reason to doubt them. Gun people are highly mobilized right now in response to the many pieces of gun control legislation being advanced in state legislatures (some successfully, as in New York, Connecticut, and Colorado) and Congress. As was said many times in Houston, President Barack Obama is the number one gun and ammo salesman in America today.
Because I was busy attending the event, I have not had a chance to see what the media coverage was like, but a couple of colleagues told me when I returned that it was a major story all weekend. I will be interested to see how the media coverage of the event compares to my experience of it.
The NRA convention consists of several, somewhat discrete sets of events. So, this is the first of (hopefully) 10 posts I will put up about my experience at the NRA convention, in no particular order of significance. Recalling that Gun Culture 2.0 centers on personal defense and the shooting sports, I will start there.
Getting to meet professional shooters in person is clearly a popular part of the NRA exhibits. As I noted in an earlier post on Rob Leatham, from the perspective of the average shooter who pays an increasing amount of money for ammo to shoot — or spends hour after hour reloading to save money — pro shooters are living the dream. They not only don’t pay for their guns and ammo, they get paid for it.
The major gun manufacturers all have their teams of sponsored shooters, and they were out in force to take pictures and sign autographs. For example, Jessie Duff from Taurus —
And K.C. Eusebio, Tori Nonaka, and Michelle Viscusi from Team Glock —
And Trevor Baucom — a Blackhawk pilot injured during a mission in Afghanistan — who now shoots for Team Smith & Wesson (pictured here with Jim Scoutten, the host of Shooting USA) —
I didn’t get a chance to see everyone — missed Max Michel from Sig Sauer and the Miculek family (“Team Miculek”) at Smith & Wesson and Randi Rogers from CompTac — but if you are interested in meeting and chatting with professional shooters, this is the place to do it.