Buckeye Firearms Assoc. Chairman attends 2007 NRA Annual meetings

By Jim Irvine

The NRA held its annual meetings in St. Louis, Missouri this weekend. I have come to have high expectations of these events, and this one did not disappoint.

My personal highlight was Missouri Governor Matt Blunt signing the Emergency Powers Protection into law to officially open the weekend. On stage with him were many of the law makers and NRA executives who helped move this bill to his desk. He also stated that he will be signing Castle Doctrine soon. What a stark contrast to Ohio where we needed to override prior Governor Taft to pass good laws. Thankfully our new Governor Strickland has already proven to be friendly to gun owners.

On Thursday, Cam Edwards read a talk-back from someone saying that every NRA member should go to the annual meetings once. The first meetings were the 2002 meetings in Reno, Nevada. I remember meeting a couple in the first hour who asked my wife and I if it was our first meetings. When asked if it was their first, they said they had been to every one for the last 35 years! I didn’t understand why anyone would want to do that, but as the weekend unfolded, I figured it out. It is now an annual priority in our home too.

Maybe the most impressive part of the weekend is the people. NRA members are the friendliest, most courteous, interesting, and just overall nicest 60,000 people you will ever find. It’s normal for the stranger in front of you to wait those few seconds to hold the door for you. Friendly smiles and “Hi’s” from strangers on the sidewalk and hotel hallway are standard. You share pictures and stories of family with others seated at your table. As always, I have more friends than I did when the meetings started.

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Ty England performed at the opening ceremony. His new album, “Alive and Well” features many good songs, including “The NRA Song.” Ty launched his solo career in 1995 after touring with his former college roommate Garth Brooks. He started his own company Triple T Records after having the conviction to stand up for his principles and refused to go on the Oprah Winfrey show. We all spend lots of money on non-firearms related things. Whenever possible, we should try to support people like Ty England who makes huge sacrifices to help protect principles in life we hold dear.

It’s important to note that the 2007 meetings were originally scheduled to be in Columbus, Ohio. But Mayor Colemen and the Columbus city council did not want the $20,000,000.00 + dollars the members would have brought to our state. Interesting to think about as you read about budget issues.

St. Louis residents and business were happy to welcome us to their city. Many stores had “NRA members welcome” signs and had extended hours to accommodate all the visitors. I’m sure they are happily counting the money we spent this weekend. While I have no idea how much crime happened in Columbus, Ohio this weekend, I’m sure the areas occupied by NRA members was a safe and enjoyable family atmosphere.

Former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton gave the keynote address last night to thousands of members gathered for the member’s banquet. He spoke of the dangers facing gun owners from the international community, lead by the UN, who has tried to ban through “small arms” (read all your guns) treaties.

After dinner T Bubba Bechtol continued his tradition of entertaining the crowd, many of whom then continued onto a special late night tour and hospitality areas of Anheuser-Busch Brewery.

The exhibit hall floor was full of all the latest gear from Smith & Wesson, Glock, H&K, Sig Arms, Springfield Armory, Beretta, Browning, Colt, Fort Knox, Ohio Gun Collectors Association, Speer, Remington, and every other seller of anything shooting, hunting, sporting, reloading, or outdoor related.

If any of this sounds interesting to you, consider marking your calendar for May 16-18 2008 and come join 60,000 fellow NRA members in Louisville, Kentucky. It’s not just every NRA member who should attend the annual meetings, it’s every gun owner and freedom loving American. I hope to see you there!

Note: There will be more coverage of NRA annual meetings events and this story will be updated to add links for your convenience.

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