The NRA Carry Guard Expo is first and foremost about training. So I’d be remiss if I failed to survey the numerous seminars providing education to the firearms faithful. I was, unfortunately, running a little late for the seminar by Brazilian Jiu Jitsu master Royce Gracie on self-defense techniques, and the door was already closed when I showed up.
I presented my ticket to the Wisconsin Center usher. He scanned it and confirmed that I’d ponied up the $75 fee to attend the two-hour seminar by the MMA legend and firearms enthusiast.
“Do you have any keys, or other metal objects?” the gatekeeper asked. I raised an eyebrow. “Well, I’ve got more than just keys on me,” I replied. That’s when I saw the wand. A plainclothes security type revealed that as this was a “hands on” training session. Metal objects such as keys, knives and firearms were not allowed.
Which made sense. Although . . . if firearms were prohibited at a Carry Guard expo event, surely the NRA would signal the fact in large font in the promotional materials and signs scattered throughout the venue. Or, at the least, the gun ban would have been mentioned when I picked up the tickets at Will Call the night before.
Nope. And there were no facilities available to secure firearms during the class. And my vehicle was parked far enough away that going out and back would take too much time to be worthwhile.
A quick conversation with NRA staff at the ticketing desk revealed that an e-mail had been sent out the week before advising participants of the no firearms rule for this class, as well as the one featuring hand-to-hand expert Steve Tarani. (Google’s algorithm had helpfully flagged the notification as “spam.”)
To their credit, the NRA people were apologetic. They refunded my money and offered to let me attend a different pay-for seminar for free. Still, it seems to me that a convention dedicated to training average citizens in the art of armed self defense should draw a little more attention to the fact that certain seminars were no-go zones for gun carriers.
I recognize my own responsibility. But as I said, it wasn’t clear if the class was going to involve physical activity. Since I missed the email and hadn’t seen anything to the contrary, I figured concealed carry was worth a shot (so to speak). Besides, I don’t know Milwaukee, and I wasn’t keen on walking around without a gun. Strangely enough.