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,Â that they would deliberately not make an effort to letÂ attendeesÂ carry in Charlotte?Â 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, whichÂ traditionallyÂ 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.