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The NRA Annual Meetings Through My Eyes

The NRA Annual Meetings Through My Eyes

Photo credit: Michael Ives

It’s always good to get together with 81,000 of your fellow NRA members, and this year’s NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits in Atlanta, Ga., was no exception. While many members of the media seemed to feel it was their job to portray the event as a lily-white gathering of angry Americans, that wasn’t what I found at this year’s meeting. 

My Annual Meetings experience included interviewing Tony Simon, a resident of New Jersey and the founder of DiversityShoot.com, a regular gathering at a gun range in north Jersey devoted to welcoming those curious about shooting as well as fostering a broad culture of gun ownership. I got to check in with Natalie and Meredith Gibson, the tweenage dynamos of Iowa grassroots activism who’ve worked to oust anti-gun lawmakers and pushed to get Iowa’s sweeping pro-gun legislation signed into law. I was thrilled to meet folks like Black Guns Matter founder Maj Toure; Operation Blazing Sword’s Erin Palette; and Marcus Allen Weldon, a Detroit man who defended himself in a shootout, was charged with seven felonies, and won acquittal by a jury of his peers, who determined he was acting in self-defense. 

I met an ex-pat Brit who remembers the day modern sporting rifles were banned in his home country, Venezuelan natives who passionately implored me to continue to speak out about the disarming of civilians and the arming of thugs by the Maduro regime, and several Canadians worried about Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s anti-gun attitudes. I talked with veterans of every branch of our military, attorneys working in courtrooms across the country to defend our right to keep and bear arms, firearms instructors who are hosting standing-room-only classes on concealed carry, moms and dads teaching their kids about gun safety and responsible gun ownership, and dozens of men and women who are spending their free time bringing people into hunting and shooting. 

If you polled those NRA members in attendance about their position on abortion, climate change, foreign policy, entitlement reform, or any other hot-button issue, you’d find a pretty diverse range of opinions. When it comes to the Second Amendment, however, that broad coalition of Americans speaks as one: Our right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, and the National Rifle Association is the most powerful defender of that right. That’s what makes the NRA so effective, and what makes the anti-gun activists in the media, politics and culture so afraid. Their goal is to try and divide us. They’ve got moms demanding action, gays against guns, and other groups designed to appeal to various sections of the electorate. Meanwhile, the NRA’s message is simple: You have the right to keep and bear arms. It doesn’t matter if you live in public housing in Chicago, a gated community in San Diego, on a ranch in Montana, or a micro-apartment in New York City. Self-defense is a human right, and NRA members are fighting for that human right every day. 

Anti-gun activists were hoping for huge protests in Atlanta, but they didn’t get their wish. Everytown for Gun Safety touted the more than 1,000 RSVPs to a protest on Saturday, but only a couple of dozen protestors actually showed up at an Atlanta park to express their displeasure with the National Rifle Association. The BBQ stand inside the NRA Annual Meeting had a far bigger crowd than Shannon Watts did outside the convention center, which isn’t a surprise. The big bucks provided by Michael Bloomberg can certainly provide a platform for his anti-gun message, but the message itself is his biggest problem. Anti-gun activists can’t even be honest and open about what it is they’re trying to do. Instead, they have to adopt the language of gun owners, dishonestly insisting that they love the Second Amendment, they’re champions of “gun safety,” and they are just interested in a few minor changes to the law. You don’t have to be an NRA member (or even a gun owner) to see through their lies, but you do need to be a member to effectively fight back against them. 

Cam Edwards is the host of “Cam & Co.,” which airs live 2-5 p.m. EST on NRATV and midnight EST on SiriusXM Patriot 125. He lives with his family on a small farm near Farmville, Va. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @camedwards.

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