I have arrived back home from Houston. The flight was a little bumpy, but otherwise uneventful. Flying these days always seems to involve waiting, but we actually breezed through security at Intercontinental with no problem, after checking the sidearm. We had time to kill, so we stopped for some lunch at a Chili’s, amusing ourselves that they had posted a 51% sign out front, even though it was in the secure area of the airport. This Chili’s also only gave out plastic utensils, but would sell you a bottle of beer in the bottle. I guess none of the TSA bureaucrats have ever gone on a pub crawl in Glasgow after a soccer match lets out.
Houston was a great convention city. Given that I’ve done seven of these at this point, I feel I can critique. Saint Louis has been the only repeat city, and I’d only classify it as OK, but both times it’s broken records, including the one that just fell. I thought Phoenix was the best overall convention city until Houston, attendance numbers aside. Pittsburgh was the worst, with Louisville a good runner up for worst. The problem with Pittsburgh is the city can’t handle day trippers, which is most of attendance. The location has great potential, but they just can’t physically bring in people at a fast enough rate to set major records. Pittsburgh’s downtown area also epitomizes the word “rust belt,” and the hotels are spread out too much. Louisville can handle day trippers in spades, but the convention center is not where the hotel space is, and the split convention was kind of ridiculous. It was better for the day trippers, but sucked for anyone who wasn’t. Charlotte was a nice city, and a record breaker too, but too damned expensive. North Carolina carry laws at the time were obnoxious as well.
But overall, it’s always a great event. As I’ve said in the past, many of the people in this issue I have great respect and admiration for are approachable, down to earth, and fascinating people to speak with. We haven’t really formally organized anything for the past few years, but thing still happen on their own.Â Bob Cottrol came down to the press room for a while, and talked to a number of bloggers, for instance. And it’s not just Prof. Cottrol. How many anti-gun celebs, like Bloomberg, would offer to buy beers and share their cake? Yeah, right. ButÂ Michael Bane willÂ (they surprised him with a birthday cake at the Michael Buys the Beer event). Those who came to that event also had an opportunity to meet Dave Kopel. Both Michael and Dave are now behind enemy lines in Occupied Colorado, though I think they both intend to do a great deal more thanÂ sit in the chair against the wall.
I can’t tell you that if you’re a rising star in social media, and attended NRA Annual meeting, you’ll be sipping drinks with Wayne LaPierre by the pool before you know it, but there are certainly interesting people to meet and speak with, and NRA has, for several years now, been willing to grant credentials to non-traditional media outlets. From there you can make your own opportunities. The Annual Meeting & Exhibits are in Indianapolis next year. If you do social or new media in the gun rights or gun arena, and are interested, e-mail me.