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Politics & Policy

The Perennial Fake Controversies Surrounding the NRA Annual Meeting

This week, the National Rifle Association holds its annual meeting in Dallas, Texas. A few weeks ago, the list of political speakers seemed sparser than in most years, with the organization touting the appearance of Charlie Kirk of Turning Point USA and Diamond and Silk. The biggest names appeared to be the local statewide officials, Governor Greg Abbott and senators Ted Cruz and Jon Cornyn.

But the last week brought word that President Trump and Vice President Pence will be addressing the attendees, and that’s a pretty big headline act! I’ve also heard that there’s some effort to keep the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum to its scheduled three-hour run time. Back in 2010, it ran about five hours, a long lead-in for the main attraction of that year, Sarah Palin.

One of the traditional stories of this week is gun control advocates shrieking that there’s some sort of colossal hypocrisy that firearms are banned from the venue where elected officials will be addressing the crowd. Of course, it’s not that the NRA is enacting some sort of fair-weather policy; the U.S. Secret Service sets the policies for any venue featuring the president, vice president, and certain presidential candidates. The NRA has always abided by the laws of the host city and state and any rules of the venue. For example, in Nashville in 2015, those with the proper permits could bring their guns to the Music City Center convention center, but one of the evening events was held at Bridgestone Arena, which is a private venue that bars firearms. There aren’t that many venues that can host roughly 80,000 attendees, so the NRA sometimes holds events in places that don’t allow concealed carry or other firearms.

We go through these alleged “controversies” every year.

Every year, all of the firearms on display at the convention have their firing pins removed; every year, some members of the media expresses shock at that and insist that the policy is some sort of epic hypocrisy. (Do they think firearms dealers put a lot of loaded weapons out on display?) The only way the guns displayed at the convention could harm someone is if someone drops it on his foot. Nonetheless, news organizations inevitably run photos of children holding the guns, as if the gathering is some sort of reckless heavily-armed grade school.

We also almost always get some local liberal columnist warning, “look out, host city, here come those trigger-happy NRA members,” but not only has there never been a shooting at an NRA Annual Meeting, crime in the host city usually goes down during that weekend.

When you see the same false story – “the NRA banned guns from its own convention!” year after year, it demonstrates that certain news organizations don’t care if they get the story wrong.


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