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TTAG reader SS writes:

I have a question for the TTAG team about this year’s NRA convention: is this normally what the NRA convention is like? I ask because it seemed to me to be a feeling of community coming together, and I was not expecting that. I am still new to the gun world . . .

I never feared guns and was sometimes around guns with my family in Tennessee, but I never chose to own one. As things in the world have changed, it seemed wise enter the world of gun ownership so I could protect my family. TTAG quickly became a trusted source of information as I entered this world and acquired new guns.

Imagine my delight when I found out that the National NRA convention was coming to Nashville where I live. Even with all the great stores in the area I knew I would never get a better chance to handle all types of firearms not always in the shops. So off I went, drove past the protest without realizing what that small group of people was doing and headed into the exhibit floor carrying my EDC in my pocket.

I was hopping from booth to booth looking at guns I have never been able to handle. There are some truly beautiful guns on the floor, some of which I realized I would not ever own because they just did not fit me correctly.

After about 45 minutes I started noticing how many couples I was seeing throughout the show ranging from 20 and dating to 60 and been married forever. I stated noticing younger kids following their parents. I saw one about 11 years old walk up to a compact 9mm, safety check it,  release the slide, point it a safe direction, take aim and fire.

She turned to her dad and said the trigger was great. I turned to the dad and said you’re teacher here right and he smiled.

I saw teenagers walking up with their dad to AR 15s and AK47s and handle the weapon with expertise. I saw dozens of people admiring the cutest little baby girl and her mother. The people did not know the mother or little girl, but the two I think were a reminder of why we have guns and who they are meant to protect.

I was expecting to see the exhibits, and normal guys you would run into at the gun shows, the people you would normally see at any type of convention. Those people were of course there, but I was not expecting to see what looked like a community coming together. I did not expect to leave feeling that there were a lot more of “US” out there.

So in retrospect I really have 2 questions –

1. Are you seeing the same things I am?

2. Is this normally what the NRA convention is like?

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  1. I don’t go to SHOT and NRA to view guns (there isn’t much new that I really need to get my hands on), instead to meet up with people I know as either a friend or through business.

  2. Were you expecting a bunch of camo-clad militia types shooting each other for getting too close and claiming stand your ground?

      • Dude slow your roll, we don’t need volunteer hall monitors.

        And I don’t think your opinion of sarcasm carries much weight to anyone below the age of 55.

      • Sarcasm?
        That description is an exact quote from the HuffPo piece on the convention that Shannon Watts wrote.

        • Then please accept my apology. I was put off by what I saw as an inappropriate response to a young new member of TTAG. I can’t delete my original response.

  3. Yes…this is generally what it feels like. But I fear that these sorts of feelings will be short lived. Not because there aren’t enough gun lovers like us…but because the NRA is doing a piss poor job at recruiting the newer and more diverse generations. I was there for two days straight (I’m an FFL) and I didn’t see more than a handful of ethnically diverse people. Where are the Black NRA memebers? The Latin? It truly was a gathering of White, overweight older people. I say this with a grin, because I fit into that explanation! 😉

    Unless the NRA starts wising up and branching out, I fear that within 30 years they wont have the funds they need to pick the fights we need them to fight….and win!

    • While I agree, it’s would probably be handled in an extremely clumsy manner. I think the best place to start is on the individual level.

    • A million times this. LaPierre needs to be shown the door, if for no other reason than he seems intent on making the NRA palette look like a John McCain impersonator convention. NRA members are fairly diverse, and it wouldn’t take much effort on their part to bring new people into the fold. That they aren’t actually DOING anything to widen their audience (without diluting their message) is more than a little frustrating.

    • I have to disagree. I was quite pleasantly surprised by how many women were there, and shocked by how many black people were there, because there were any black people there!

    • I’m not sure I understand exactly what you think they should be doing that they are not. Both the Eddie Eagle program and Colin Noir come to mind when it comes to recruiting the “newer and more diverse generations”. I have to say they have a nice mix of contributors that reflects the actual demographics of our country.

    • As an RSO at a large gun club in SoCal, I don’t know about NRA membership, but the POTG that show up at the range are culturally diverse but women are still under represented. The women we do see at the range are usually the younger crowd. The younger men are a very culturally diverse group. The older group tends to be OFWGs

  4. “…the two I think were a reminder of why we have guns and who they are meant to protect”

    This, a million times, and until there is no life left in me.

  5. lol what you describe is being called a “siege mentality” by our friends in the media. Bitter clingers gotta cling, after all.

  6. I would agree with SS. The people at the convention are always very friendly. But I also feel that way about people I see at the range, and most gun stores. I may not always agree with their politics but the people I meet dealing with guns always are very nice.

  7. I’ve never been to an NRA convention, but I’m at the range at least once a week and it’s the safest, friendliest place you can possibly go to. I would guess that the same people who frequent shooting ranges go to the NRA convention.

  8. Yup. It’s a neat event that should be shared.
    Old friends, family and new friends you haven’t met yet.

  9. Can’t speak about NRA conventions (never been to any) but a couple of years ago, I went to a Virginia gun show with a friend and his fiance. The fiance walked out quite surprised, seeing her boss and another female co-worker with her family there. She seriously thought it was was going to be some “macho” place of some sort.

  10. Never been to the NRA or Shot shows…but things are very polite and gracious at the local gun shows. It’s always been an especially strong feeling of community at the gun clubs. Everyone loves seeing the kids out there with either their parents or shooting on a junior team. Shooters of all types admiring and asking about the hardware of other shooters. Good stuff. 🙂

  11. Yes ! You sound like a young guy. When you have some extra cash consider going to the side meetings. On Thursday nite there is always a Friends of NRA dinner. They used to have a Saturday nite dress up dinner also but now it is gone. Sunday Prayer breakfast and auction luncheon on Saturday. They are fantastic ways to sit with gun owners from all over the country and break bread. Last dinner I went to I was siting with my wife along with SF officers back from Astan and couples from out West. I would come home glowing with pride for fellow gun nuts and Americans.

  12. That was the same as I experienced at the Houston NRA convention a couple of years ago. But then again, it is also what I normally experience at the local gun shops and gun ranges.

  13. Are They All Like This?

    No. Usually there’s a lot of dope and occasional gunfire.

    Oh, wait. You were asking about the NRA. I thought you meant N.W.A. My bad.

  14. St Louis 2012. The crowd looked like everyday America and was just like most gun shows, the friendliest people you could imagine

  15. It was like a good guys (and gals) with guns utopia…everyone very friendly, polite, and family oriented. My wife went with me and even with her not being totally comfortable around guns, she loved it and had a lot of fun. Glad we got to go!

  16. “I have a question for the TTAG team about this year’s NRA convention: is this normally what the NRA convention is like?”

    Think of it as an annual meeting (it’s real name) and not a trade show. It is the “NRA Annual Meeting” of NRA members. Perhaps that will answer your question.

  17. I will probably never know — I refuse to go so long as they invite bigots and idiots like Palin and Beck to speak.

    The one reason I might go is if it was close and the local Pink Pistols chapters decided to go en masse, plainly identified with T-shirts and caps and openly carrying, or a local rape victims group in similar fashion, because I love standing up for minorities. But I suspect that if a group of Pink Pistols showed up at an NRA annual convention, there’d be rioting.

    • Interesting. I’d say nothing would happen. Next year, I’ll reach out to the Pink Pistols. But not around. Sorry. Had to go there. Been one of those days.

    • Why can’t white people who have homosexual sex show up at a gun show? Why is it “harder” for a white skinned person than a black person? Perhaps a white homosexual can hide in a crowd. Homosexuals claim they suffer like black people do. No they do not. White homosexual Politian’s like California state assemblyman Tom Ammiano wrote California law SB 500 law that jerry brown signed.

      AB 500 – Democratic Assemblymember Tom Ammiano’s bill requires the Department of Justice to have a firearm dealer delay the sale of a gun if the buyer “has been taken into custody and placed in a facility for mental health treatment or evaluation, that he or she has been arrested for, or charged with, a crime, or that the purchaser is attempting to purchase more than one firearm within a 30-day period.” The DOJ must determine whether or not that person is eligible to buy a firearm within 30 days of the usual 10-day waiting period.

      American politician and LGBT rights activist from San Francisco, California. Ammiano, a member of the California Legislative LGBT Caucus

      How many white women or black women will be denied a firearm when their lesbian lover beats them or a straight single mother is repeatedly threatened by her ex-boyfriend perhaps even killed?

      This white homosexual has enjoyed the protection his race and male sex afford him in this white male dominated society. He claims he is for civil rights as many white homosexuals do. But he is a fraud as are many people like him. He is an enemy of freedom.
      He will take away your gun rights in exchange for marijuana intoxication and homosexual marriage. Just like in Colorado and Washington state. Is that a fair exchange?

      I will not vote for a white homosexual who will violate my gun civil rights. But there are black and white people who will vote for a straight black man who will take away their gun civil rights. And he also supports marijuana intoxication and homosexual marriage as well as supporting a government welfare system that interferes in the heterosexual relationships of single mothers.

      It has been said on this web site blacks should not be given special treatment when it comes to guns. I agree. As a black person I think white homosexual should not be given special treatment either. They can explain their positions on issues like I have done. Whats the problem?

      • “This white homosexual has enjoyed the protection his race and male sex afford him in this white male dominated society. He claims he is for civil rights as many white homosexuals do. But he is a fraud as are many people like him. He is an enemy of freedom.
        He will take away your gun rights in exchange for marijuana intoxication and homosexual marriage. Just like in Colorado and Washington state. Is that a fair exchange?”


    • Palin and Beck are bigots?

      Pot meet kettle. Just because we accept your right to self defense but resist your attempts to normalize your perverse behavior, refuse to allow you to teach sodomy to 11 year olds in schools or fight back your gaystapo attempts to strip of us of our FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS doesn’t make us bigots.

  18. It is not the NRAs job to create the next generation of shooters, it is our job. Liberty is always only one generation from extinction. Pass on the Rifleman’s tradition to your children and will naturally find the NRA. Reach out to your friends and introduce them to our special legacy. Better yet, sign up for an Appleseed shoot in your area and bring a friend. Learn about your unique heritage as Americans and learn a few things about rifle marksmanship at the same time.

  19. As a new gun person I found the convention most welcoming. As a black person the people were helpful polite and I had strangers walk up to me and start talking about politics and guns. The conversations were wonderful. I saw lots of people from different races and walks of life. I did see more people of color on Sunday than Friday. And more children on sunday as well. The meetings were outstanding. The “white liberal media” will never show a racially integrated NRA. Admission was free. Having a white person smile at you when you are holding a gun, Priceless!

    • “Having a white person smile at you when you are holding a gun, Priceless!”

      You weren’t constantly ducking to the sound of gunfire? Yikes!

      Don’t let the liberals hear that… 🙂

  20. It was my first Annual Meeting too, and it was a blast. Great atmosphere and great people. I was pleasantly surprised that the crowd wasn’t nearly as O, F, and G as I had anticipated. I will be heading to Louisville next year of sure.

  21. Didn’t make this one. Been to two. It’s like hanging out with a bunch of your best friends.

  22. New Guy, I was gratified to see the sense of “We’re all in this together, and we’re all friends.” Atmosphere at my first convention in Houston. The same camaraderie was present in Nashville. I think you’d find it interesting to attend the prayer breakfast on Sunday, too. BTW, I’d welcome the Pink Pistols with open arms and encourage them to stay.

  23. It was my first convention, too, and I have to mention what a class act R. Lee Ermy is. We waited in line so my business partner (a Glock fan girl) could get a hat signed. I noticed he spent time with the kid in front of us talking about youth shooting programs, and he spent time talking to her about how important it is to get women into the sport.

    Couldn’t ask for a better ambassador.

  24. Wow. As a long time member of the OFWG faction, reading some of these comments, I feel like I should avoid the meeting (actaully never been, hey NRA ever heard of Virginia Beach/Norfolk/Richmond?) to keep from perpetuating the stereotype. Maybe they could have a back door secret entrance and showroom for us.

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