Buckeye Firearms Assoc.'s Jim Irvine attends/blogs NRA 2006 Annual Meetings

By Jim Irvine

Thursday May 18

I arrived in Milwaukee this morning for the NRA’s 2006 Annual Meetings. The theme this year is “Freedom’s 2nd Army.” Each of you is part of that army. I will update this story as the weekend progresses. I also encourage you to listen in on NRANews.com.

Today the exhibitors were finishing their set up to be ready for this weekends crouds. I had the opportunity to visit NRANews.com and talk with Cam Edwards, John Popp, Joel and Ginny. A great group of people who really enjoy their work and produce a terrific product.

I watched Cam talk with Mike McCarville, NRA-ILA contact Ashley Varner and Royal Wade Kimes who will be performing at this year's events. He wrote the song, “In my Land”, the 2nd Amendment anthem.

The show will be normal hours on Friday, but will have also cover large sections of the meetings and including lots of special coverage Saturday. Cam has a non-stop lineup of guest that are sure to capture your interest.

Tonight was the NRA Foundation Banquet. Over 800 people enjoyed dinner and participated in a live auction, silent auctions, and lots of special games. All proceeds go to the NRA Foundation which supports many education and scholarship programs. A great time for a great cause.

Click on 'Read More' for updates details.

Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre walked through the room greeting us individually. He made a point that the NRA’s power comes in the form each individual who volunteers his/her time to carry the NRA’s message forward. Especially in an election year, this is an important point for us each to remember.

The city’s people seem genuinely happy to have the NRA, their 60,000 members and the $20,000,000.00 we will spend this weekend. As Ohio suffers through bad economic times, its sad that Columbus City Council ran the NRA out of town for next years meetings. As Larry Moore pute it to me earlier today, "Columbus businesses, especially hotels and restaurants, should read the number of visitors and weep. They should be calling Mayor Coleman and his anti-gun cronies on the carpet for their misguided decisions that led to the NRA pulling the convention from Columbus." It is also sad that the Ohio Senate has failed to pass HB347 with preemption that will end such worthless local harassment programs. I will glad to go spend my money in gun-friendly St. Louis.

Friday May 19

Today began with the NRA-ILA grassroots breakfast and workshop. It was attended by about 200 people who like us, care about influencing elections. I enjoyed meeting several new volunteers from Ohio.

The NRA is a huge organization, but the NRA-ILA division is a true grassroots group. It is no wonder that this is the section of the NRA most in communication with Buckeye Firearms. Katrina Ruminski, Jennifer Bradey and others thank you for your involvement working for pro-gun candidates. Chris Cox thanks you for the work you have done to improve the legislature. It is your work helping pro-gun candidates win their elections that make job of passing good laws possible.

When Chris Cox, or Ken Hanson, or myself meet with lawmakers who have never received correspondence from a constituent about issues we are working on, it becomes a difficult sell. If that legislator has been contacted by 10-20 people, our job becomes easy. And when a legislator has been contacted by hundreds of constituents, they start begging us to help them get the law passed. Your input is truly needed and appreciated.

If you have not already done so, please click here to use our site to contact your elected officials about HB347.

The leadership of NRA considers the volunteers who work on campaigns a key to their success. They truly recognize your importance. NRA President Sandra Froman, First VP John Sigler, Second VP Ronald Schmeits, Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris Cox and several others took time to addressed our group. The consistent message was that your volunteer work on campaigns is crucial to furthering the pro-Second Amendment issue.

Ken Mehlman, Chairman of the Republican National Committee also addressed our group at length. He talked about how bad the National Democratic Party is on our issues. I talked briefly with him about Ohio’s Republican leadership, and how Governor Bob Taft and Chairman Bob Bennett were once again thumbing their nose at Ohio gun owners, while Democratic leaders like Senator Marc Dann, Congressman Ted Strickland, and Chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party Chris Redfern want to pass bills like HB347 and others to improve Ohio laws. I’m sad to say that he showed no concern for your rights, nor interest in helping improve the Ohio Republican party. Thank God for all our pro-gun Democratic friends.

While volunteers our key to our success, and I know many NRA-EVC’s, both the NRA and Buckeye Firearms values you and your private information and will not share it with anyone, including each other. It is important to volunteer with both groups.

Volunteer for Buckeye Firearms
Volunteer for NRA-ILA

Today was the opening celebration. We heard from NRA leadership on past success and future goals. They all touched on the importance of you, the grassroots volunteer in the success we have had, and the goals we can achieve together. Ted Nugent also addressed the crowd. He pointed out that anyone who does not understand that guns in the hands of law abiding citizens is a good thing, “Needs fixing.” And it is up to each of us to engage them in conversation and “fix em.” Every one of them. That is your assignment from Mr. Nugent.

We were also treated to a concert by Royal Wade Kimes. It’s great to hear from entertainers who are out outspoken defenders of our right to bear arms. You can sample his song, “In my Land” at his website. I recommend you take the time to listen to the lyrics.

I had to pass on special session about the M1 Garand. For those who have shot one of these fine guns, you will understand how hard that was. For those who don’t understand, you need to find a friend that will let you shoot theirs. Simply one of my favorite rifles to shoot.

I chose instead to attend a session on concealed carry by Tom Marx. There is simply no way to condense 2 hours of discussion into a few paragraphs, but I am attempting to get a digital copy of his handout to post here. Check back over the coming days if you are interested.

Large sections of this years show will be broadcast live on NRANews.com, and sections including the grassroots workshop will be archived for viewing at your convenience.

Saturday, May 20

The NRA has 76 board members. 25 get elected each year for a 3 year term, and one is elected at each meeting for a one year term. This year Robert Wos, an Ohio resident and long time leader with the Ohio Gun Collectors Association was not reelected in the group of 25. He was elected as the 76th board member, but will need to run for reelection again next year.

I started my day with the annual meeting of the members. This is where the executive members give prepared speeches about the history and future of the NRA. The youngest and oldest life members are recognized. The youngest was six week old Nadia from Ohio. The oldest was Claude who has been the oldest life member in attendance for many years. Claude, who is 101, was born in 1905. His mind and spirit are still sharp as ever.

Most of the speeches are available in the archived section of the NRANews.com web site. Also available is a “Remember New Orleans” documentary. This outlines what really happened in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It should have been on all major news networks, but of course it does not fit their anti-gun agenda, so they simply refuse to tell the story. It is shocking that armed agents of the US government forcibly disarmed law abiding citizens without cause and left them defenseless for the roving gangs. But that is what happened.

I attended a “Women, personal protection & Power Politics” seminar. This was a panel of NRA President Sandra Fromen, Wisconsin State Representative Samantha Kerkman, Greenfield Police Chief Francis Springob, and Madison talk show host Vicki McKenna moderated by Susan Howard. This was an excellent session filled with good information.

Vicki is a pro-gun talk show host in the ultra liberal town of Madison, Wisconsin. Her program runs from 2:00-6:00 PM and can be listened to at live at WIBA.com

When you get tired of listening to you local liberal talk show host, try listening to her online.

I finally got a chance to tour the exhibit hall. While it’s impressive that so many companies are present, the real benefit is the diversity of products and the people describing them. For example, you can walk into many gun stores and hold a Kimber, but most of them only have a handful. The Kimber display had every version of each model Kimber makes, plus examples of what their custom shop produces. And the same can be said of every gun manufacturer present. And reloading equipment and ammunition manufactures, and scopes and optics and every other product related to the shooting sports. Your questions are answered by the leaders of each company, who fully understands how and why their products are designed. They also value your feedback to improve their products.

General Tommy Franks was the keynote speaker at the member’s banquet. Franks was surprisingly funny, but also commented on some very serious subjects. He delivered an excellent speech.

General Franks was followed by comedian T Bubba Bechtol, whose humor reaches everyone in the room and the evening was capped off with Country singer Miranda Lambert rocking the house.

I will attempt to come back to fill in some details over the next week, as well as provide some additional links that may be of interest to our readers.

Sunday May 21

This morning I attended a media session. The panel consisted of Vicki McKenna of WIBA radio in Madison Wisconsin, Cam Edwards of NRANEWS.com, and Professor Brian Patrick of the University of Toledo.

This panel discussed the how and why the media “report the news.” We all know there is bias against guns and gun owners. They discussed intentional bias and unintentional bias. For intentional bias, embarrassment seemed to be the best way to fight back. Call them out on factual errors, and report their faulty reporting to their competition and to friendly news outlets. (Like NRANews.com) For unintentional bias, like so many other things, the key is persistence. Call, write, and email. Every time there is a factual error, correct it and give them a source. Often the problem is simply ignorance of our issue combined with laziness. Offer to take reporters to the range shooting with you. Show them gun safety, and let them experience how much fun shooting can be.

Lastly I took a look around the convention for new or innovative products. The Smith and Wesson M&P feels great in your hand. Taurus has a new 5 shot revolver that can shoot either .45 long or .410 shotgun shells. A sample target showed a head sized group at 1 yard, and a body sized group from 7 yards.

There are many new innovative products. N Range has ammo that can be safely shot in your house. The ammo uses a strong primer to cycle the slide, provide realistic recoil, and propel a ball which strikes a second, less powerful, primer to propel the projectile. Child Guard has a trigger lock that will actually fit on a gun. If you like the idea of a trigger lock, but are not happy with the free ones that came with your gun, you should check out this product. There are many other interesting products that deal with reloading, black-powder, hunting, stocks, rests, clothing, knives, scopes, optics and just about anything else you can think of.

While the Mayor of Milwaukee and the Governor of Wisconsin were not be happy to have us visit, the people and businesses seemed delighted with our attendance. As I leave another large gun event, it strikes me again what a nice bunch of people the gun community is. Strangers smiling and saying “hi” and holding the door for the person behind them is normal. It is a shame that Columbus city council so foolishly passed a useless “assault weapon ban” that has never been used to prosecute a criminal, yet cost the city over 20 million dollars by causing the NRA to move next year’s convention to St. Louis.

Mark you calendar for April 13-15 2007. Instead of just reading about it, I recommend you come join me. You’ll have a great time.

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