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Here We Go Again

Will someone please explain to me why NRA, after allowing carry at their meetings in the past at venues that allow it, such as the Kentucky Expo Center, and the Phoenix Convention Center, that they would deliberately not make an effort to let attendees carry in Charlotte? Keeping in mind that with the Phoenix Annual Meeting, they went to great lengths to get the Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control to suspend the liquor license of the convention center for the duration of the Annual Meeting (except for the banquet, which traditionally serves beer and wine) so that attendees could carry at Annual Meeting.

Now, in terms of site selection, I am going to agree with everyone that Charlotte, from what I’ve seen so far, is less than ideal, and not just on the issue of carry. I’m going to be an opponent of NRA going back there unless they fix their carry laws, among other things. But NRA has hosted its Annual Meeting in a lot of places, for reasons that I’ve mentioned before. Some of those venues are more friendly to carry than others.

NRA’s official statement about this issue goes as follows:

The claim that NRA does not want members to carry is flat out wrong. Both Phoenix and Louisville allowed concealed and open carry in the convention center. In fact, NRA fought to make sure attendees could carry at those locations.

In Charlotte, just like in every city that we have held our annual meeting, NRA is bound by legal and contractual obligations. We were unable to remove the prohibition due to state, city and convention center regulations.

Some people have mentioned an exception under the law for “A person participating in the event, if a person is carrying a gun, rifle, or pistol with the permission of the owner, lessee, or person or organization sponsoring the event.” This exception has two prongs. First, the person must be a participant. Second, the person must have permission.

While some may suggest that NRA could be the one giving permission, the reality is that NRA would not be the one who would determine whether or not someone is a participant. A prosecutor, judge, and jury would be ultimately making that determination.

Even if NRA declared all attendees participants, a prosecutor could argue that he/she was an attendee, spectator, guest of a member or a ticket holder, so that could not be relied on for a legal defense. And, in the end, it is the person with the gun who would be prosecuted. This is indeed a gray area, but without a clear exception there is a serious risk of arrest and prosecution, and NRA does not want our members risking prosecution.

The fact is if NRA only went to places that allowed CCW in convention centers, we would be limited to 2 or 3 choices. Because of the size of NRA’s conventions, we already are limited with our choices of cities that can accommodate us. We also strive to have regional balance to allow members from all over the country to attend. People should also be mindful that NRA has worked to change laws all over the country. With incremental wins, those who may not be able to carry in a certain location today may be able to do so down the road. After all, Arizona’s gun laws have come long way since we were there last year.

I am hoping this puts this issue to bed. I have no problem with reasonable, informed criticism of NRA, or the site selection committee. There’s a lot of valid points to be made for why Charlotte is less than an ideal site. But in the big picture, I think it’s a waste of time and energy to fret over this particular issue in this particular context. We’d be far better served working to change the laws and the political climate, much like happened in Arizona after the Annual Meeting was held there last year.

21 Responses to “Here We Go Again”

  1. Sebastian,

    I don’t know if the NRA actively sought to have members able to carry or not.

    But if I were a member, as soon as the NRA found out that CCW holders would not be allowed to carry in the venue, I would certainly expect the NRA to let me know, and why.

    Nature abhors a vacuum – if you don’t give correct information in a timely manner, someone else will give incorrect information to fill the void.

  2. Sebastian says:

    OK… now there’s a perfectly valid criticism of NRA! :)

  3. Fiftycal says:

    So NRA is confined to only “2 or 3 choices” right now. WHY NOT USE THEM??? I know Houston can handle it. Why not go there? I mean there is not like 200,000 NRA members in TEXAS or anything.

  4. Sebastian says:

    That’s great if you’re an NRA member living in Texas and Louisiana, but what about the rest of the NRA members who live somewhere else? The idea of moving it around is that everyone gets a chance to attend an Annual Meeting at some point, even if they are of modest means and can’t afford to fly the whole family halfway across the country.

  5. Weer'd Beard says:

    I don’t think they made a deliberate action to keep members disarmed, but what they certainly didn’t do is make lawful carry a high priority.

    If we’re smart we’ll voice our displeasure of that loud enough and in proper numbers to make that not the case next time. (BTW is next year’s venue no gun? I’m sure you know PA laws better than I do)

  6. Sebastian says:

    You won’t have any problems with PA. Our carry laws are way way better than North Carolina’s.

  7. Miguel says:

    I’d give a nut to have an NRA convention in Miami. The NRA would be subjected to the same legal restrictions on Carry. Guess what? I’ll be happy to lock my gun in my car & go enjoy the show playing with all the goodies while the crybabies stay home and bitch about not carrying.

  8. Sebastian says:

    I don’t think they’ve ever had it in Miami. Don’t know about their convention facilities. But Orlando could definitely handle it.

    • Bitter says:

      A quick survey of the first page of floor plans says Miami can’t fit the NRA meeting. But I don’t know of any reason Orlando couldn’t do it again since they last had it there in 2003.

      I think this is a situation where the market will decide what most gun owners value – the opportunity to experience an event like this reasonably close to where they live or the full ability to carry for every single event during every single second of every singe vacation they take. Based on some the estimates I’m seeing, I think I know which side will win. I’ll just wait until the official count is announced at the board meeting.

  9. Sebastian says:

    But as they mentioned, if they restricted it to only venues that allowed carry at their convention centers, it would be Pittsburgh, Houston, and Phoenix… and that’s basically it. Yes, they do put a higher priority on making sure every member has an opportunity to attend annual meeting every couple of years than they do on only picking venues that don’t have any carry issues. I agree with that judgement.

  10. Andy says:

    Funny how no one seems to see it as an opportunity to go deep into California of the south and show what model citizens we are. Changing local attitude is a long process.

  11. Drang says:

    Obviously, NRA needs to come back to Seattle.

    • Bitter says:

      It looks like their main exhibit space is only about 4.7 acres in Seattle, so it would be a much smaller meeting.

  12. David says:

    I’m not crazy about North Carolina’s rules related to concealed carry. My brother, who lives in the state, says the permit is almost useless with so many restrictions, but I seem to remember this was also an issue in Reno in 2002. Sadly, there are always going to be places that I can’t carry that I am still going to go, (Church, the Post Office – but only when absolutely necessary, my daughters’ school).

    I’m with Miguel, I’ll take being close to home over what I endured to go to Phoenix last year and get back in time for my daughters dance recital the same weekend (which I also have to do this year). Where else can you go and be with so many like minded people and see so many guns and so much gear in one place.

    Bitter, I think Orlando is on the list somewhere down the road in the next five years – at least it was a location being considered. Personally I wish it was going to be there next year instead of Pittsburgh.

  13. FatWhiteMan says:

    I don’t have a problem with it rotating around to the same 5 or 6 venues (there are far more than 2 or 3 I believe). Louisville every 4 years would be great. So would places like Orlando, Houston and Phoenix. Ohio has good CCW laws too and a convention center in Columbus.

    The carry prohibition at Charlotte will not stop me from attending, but I think it necessary that we make our concerns heard. Instead of believing that the NRA selection committee didn’t care about CCW, I find it more plausible that they just didn’t think of it. Let’s make sure it is on their list of must haves next time.

  14. JPD says:

    Guys,

    We are going back to Houston in a few years, we pulled out of Columbus, Ohio due to City Officials passing anti-gun laws in protest of our meeting, we have been to Orlando as Bitter outlined and need to “spread our message” to more than just a few sites.

    I want to carry everywhere, unfortuantely – sometimes I can not….I much rather work to change the laws by bringing in over 60,000 NRA Members for a weekend celebration (Read: polite protest)….

    Joe

  15. Wolfwood says:

    For those upset about the NRA’s lack of ensuring carry, why not stage an empty holster protest? People are saying this is a huge issue, but how does the NRA leadership know whether a lot of their members are pining for this or if it’s just a dozen guys on the internet (who might not come anyway).

    For that matter, how would the NRA know how many people CC’d at their meetings where it’s legal? First person to say “registration” loses and must go to the end of the line.

  16. J Richardson says:

    All I’m gong to say is that I for one am happy that it is in Charlotte. I live in North Carolina about a 2 hour drive from Charlotte. This will be the first NRA convention that I have attended and I’m doing so because it is within easy driving distance.

    While I’m not particularly fond of Charlotte because it is a “big city”, indeed larger than both St. Louis and Louisville which were recent NRA Annual Meeting show sites, it is a fairly drivable city.

    For those upset by concealed carry laws in North Carolina, never forget that like most gun control it is a legacy of the days of slave holding as well as Reconstruction. If you want to help change these laws, we’d welcome your help. Indeed you would be welcome at a fundraiser being held on May 14th by Grass Roots North Carolina where Alan Gura will be the featured speaker.

    http://grnc.org/symposium.htm

    When it comes to getting work done on the ground and in the NC General Assembly in support of gun rights, GRNC is the go-to organization.

  17. why not stage an empty holster protest?

    Now there’s an idea that has merit!

    And I believe I’ve heard something about conventioneers having to pass through metal detectors, which may also be something the venue mandates.

  18. Sebastian says:

    There’s one event they have to pass through metal detectors, and it is something the venue demands.

  19. ASM826 says:

    If the NRA gets N.C. carry laws fixed so I can carry in restaurants that serve alcohol, movie theaters and other venues that charge admission, and eliminates the need for a permitting system like Arizona recently did, I’ll stop paying my dues by the year and purchase a life membership.

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