Early recap on NRA Annual Meetings: Record attendance "drives anti-gun folks crazy"
By Jim Shepherd
As the curtain was rung down on the NRA Annual Meeting and Exhibitions in Charlotte, North Carolina, it appears another record-setting event will be headed for the record books.
First, with nearly a third of the NRA's membership living inside a 150 mile radius of Charlotte, it seems the attendance records are pretty much going to be rewritten. Although we've not seen official numbers, my conversations with NRA officials seem to indicate the projected 70,000 attendees will be met or bettered.
Second, that attendance drives plenty of politicians, writers and anti-gun folks crazy. As a lineup of speakers that included former Alaska governor and Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck and others continued to exhort the pro-firearms attendees while excoriating the administration for its inability to address terrorism or seal the porous southern borders, liberal bloggers' remarks went off the charts.
As normal, the champions of understanding, compassion and reason had no problem calling firearms owners anything from would-be revolutionaries to "beer-swilling, drunken bubbas bristling with firearms."
There may have been some beer consumed, but it's worth nothing that the Charlotte Convention Center is one of the many facilities across the country that does not permit either open nor concealed carry.
Charlotte rolled out the red carpet and their southern hospitality to NRA Annual Meeting attendees. Attendees responded with a positive attitude and open wallets, contributing millions to the local economy during their time in the city.
While the NRA will not go to cities with what it considers "repressive" firearms rules, the size and scope of the annual meetings simply forces what is considered by NRA members and leaders as "reasonable accommodations" in order to access facilities large enough to handle the crowds and the space needed for a myriad of meetings and the exhibitions.
As we're wrapping up our time in Charlotte, there are plenty of storylines emerging, not the least of which is the fact that almost as many new firearms were rolled out this past weekend as were shown to industry insiders at the 2010 SHOT Show.
That's not a judgement on the value of either; simply recognition that the manufacturers know the best time to roll out product is during large gatherings.
SHOT is the industry-only type rollout or product line announcement; NRA is where you chain down several versions of your latest and greatest, then watch the tens of thousands of consumers who travel through your exhibition space to get a little first-hand consumer feedback and market research.
At this point, official summaries on the event aren't out, but based on personal observations and conversations, it seems everyone is leaving Charlotte with a positive feeling.
We'll do more in-depth looking at the meetings and their implications for the industry, the firearms economy, recreational shooting, hunting -and the coming elections -over the next few days.
Republished from The Outdoor Wire.