Again, like my post yesterday, consider this to be another live report from the 142nd NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits at the George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston, Texas. The Lone Star State!
Okay, so if you’re following the mainstream media news headlines with respect to this convention, you’d probably expect to see a “clash” or a major confrontation between gun rights advocates/NRA members and gun control activists, descriptions that make it appear as if this is some kind of political warzone.
For example, on Friday MSNBC ran a story entitled, “NRA: Protesters plan a showdown at the gun show.” The opening sentence read, “Gun control advocates plan to clash with members of the National Rifle Association this weekend…”
Likewise, the Houston Chronicle published this article yesterday, “Protesters set sights on NRA meeting Houston.” According to their report, an “alliance of gun-control groups and advocates is planning to press its case at the gun world’s ground zero: The annual National Rifle Association.”
The HC went on to report that a pro-gun control group known as the “Occupy the NRA movement will read the names of the 4,000 victims of gun violence” since the mass shooting at Sandy Hook.
And today, NPR published a story – “At NRA Convention, Dueling Narratives Displayed with Guns” – also emphasized the presence of gun control activists at the event. Though, to its credit, NPR labeled it a “small protest” and called the reading of the names a “lonely vigil.”
So, what’s the truth? Are there hordes of protesters here at the NRA convention? A coalition or an “alliance” of gun control advocates present? Is there a major showdown? An epic clash between the two sides?
No. Not even close.
From what I’ve witnessed around the premises and from what I’ve heard from fellow journalists and the police officers patrolling the area, there were roughly 5 protesters here on Friday and about 10 protesters here on Saturday.
Now, does that mean they won’t show up by the busloads later today or that they won’t descend on the convention tomorrow by the thousands?
No. But it seems highly unlikely.
Meanwhile, what I can verify is that there are tens of thousands of pro-gunners here. Reports say upwards of 70,000 are in attendance. Obviously, I’m not going to count everyone here, but I wouldn’t doubt those estimates.
Bottom line: be wary of reports in the mainstream media that suggest that the NRA convention is a battleground between the two camps. There is no giant picket-line or pro-gun control rally. Rather, there is just a handful of protesters that would have gone completely unnoticed if it weren’t for the mainstream media.
If things happen to change between now and tomorrow, I’ll update this post. But don’t hold your breath.
I was wrong. There was an epic clash between gun owners and gun rights advocates at the convention. GUNS.com was lucky enough to catch this incredible moment on camera:
In all seriousness, we went down and scoped out the scene during the peak hour of the protest. We counted around 40 protesters altogether, though it was difficult to tell who was really protesting and who was just there spectating. Protesters stuck around for about 2 hours and then left.