The NRA Annual Meeting & Exhibits in Atlanta, Georgia drew a record number of attendees, breaking the trade show’s previous record (set just last year) by over 10,000. Nearly 90,000 attendees came to this event ostensibly to support the NRA in the midst of debate about gun control and gun violence in congress and elsewhere that has been stimulated by the recent Sandy Hook shootings and other gun violence this past year. The NRA members and executives said that they have never felt so welcomed in a city before.
Exhibit design took a backseat to political posturing as Glenn Beck was selected as the keynote speaker for the event and helped lead the proceedings under the banner of ‘Stand and Fight’. The NRA has come under criticism by some who think dislike how the gun lobby’s representatives were able to successfully scuttle a number of provisions in a recent gun reform law. Others cheered on this news, fearing additional gun regulation.
The trade show in Atlanta saw over 500 exhibitors showing off guns and gun-related equipment in the nearly half a million square feet of convention space offered by the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston. Many attendees came out to see the show, enjoy the exhibit design and also to support the NRA’s push for gun rights.
Many people have called for greater gun regulation in the past months after the Sandy Hook massacre. The NRA and other gun lobbies have successfully thwarted most attempts at further regulation to this point, including restrictions on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines as well as more rigorous background checks. There does remain some agreement on the need to provide for more mental health facilities and treatments. Gun enthusiasts argue that you can’t stop gun violence by restricting access to guns, but you can limit it by making sure that the mentally confused or insane are identified and treated.
The trade show attendance was yet another sign that many in this country support the idea of relatively easy access to firearms. For the time being, it looks like they have staved off additional restrictions on gun buying and possession that looked sure to pass just a couple months ago.