We queried three frequent contributors to A1F Daily to learn what was special to them about the 2017 NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits. Their answers were as varied as the crowd and program enjoyed in Atlanta this year.
The last time I attended the NRA Annual Meetings was in 2011, when they were held in St. Louis, where we live. It was a fun time, getting to see the best in firearms and accessories while gaining a bit more knowledge about the Second Amendment. We weren’t gun owners then, just supporters. I appeared for the first time on NRANews “Cam & Company” and started our journey to becoming gun owners that night.
NRAAM ‘17 was a time to reconnect with old friends and meet new ones. There was such a crush of people; more than 80,000 converged on Atlanta’s Georgia World Congress Center. One highlight was hearing President Donald Trump address the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum and passionately present his intention to support and maintain the Second Amendment rights of Americans. The crowd was energized by his words, and rightly so. The crowd was diverse and filled with kind and interesting people. I’m looking forward to next year in Dallas!
I had the pleasure of seeing some interesting people in Atlanta. Tony Simon is a gun owner from New Jersey and the founder of DiversityShoot.com, a monthly gathering at a gun range for those interested in learning more about firearms and how to use them safely and responsibly. I also met Erin Palette, the founder of Operation Blazing Sword, a group she started after the Pulse nightclub attack. In less than a year, Erin has helped to marshal more than 1,000 volunteers to help educate anyone who’s considering owning a gun for self-defense.
I even caught up with Meredith and Natalie Gibson, two young ladies from Iowa. They spent two years educating voters about a law that forbid children under 14 from touching a handgun, even under adult supervision. Their activism paid off this year when the law was repealed. This summer they will get to compete in their first 3-gun match in their home state—all because they fought for what they believe in.
Atlanta was my second NRA Annual Meetings, so I felt prepared for Atlanta this time around. I packed better walking shoes. I sought out more coffee. I planned my itinerary ahead of time. I managed to function on only a few hours of sleep at night (totally worth it, by the way).
Since my head was not buried in an event map this year, I had the opportunity to look up and take in the sights. What I saw, I loved.
Women seem to be embracing opportunities with the Second Amendment left and right. They’re stepping up now more than ever, getting involved, and making meaningful changes to our organization. I felt like everywhere I went, I was greeted by dynamic females that were straight-up girl bosses—from Olympic shooters to professional hunters, small-business owners to journalists to college activists, and plenty more in between. This yearly gathering isn’t just a meeting; it’s a reunion. NRA Women are leading the fight to preserve our freedoms, and they’re doing it with class, style and poise. I am honored to be part of this organization, and can’t wait to see where it takes us next!