Registration and pre events for the National Rifle Association’s annual convention began Thursday and with them so will the political posturing ahead of the 2016 presidential elections.
Guns.com is sending a team of writers and videographers to the show at the Music City Center in the Tennessee capital of Nashville this weekend to cover what should prove to be a grand display of Americanism, music, guns and gun rights. Several prospective Republican presidential nominees are expected to make an appearance – some are scheduled to speak and some are signing their books.
The agenda has already been forecast and the show is shaping up to be a celebration of an elected pro-gun Congress in 2014 and getting a gun-friendly Republican into the presidential seat in 2016, USA Today reported.
“Last November, Americans sent a clear message to Washington that they do not want more gun control by defeating anti-Second-Amendment candidates at the ballot box,” said Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action. “Our 2016 efforts are focused on electing a pro-Second Amendment president and growing our pro-Second Amendment majority in Congress.”
Political speakers include Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and others.
Of those, only Cruz has announced his candidacy, The New York Times reported. Bush, Walker, Rubio, Santorum, Perry and Jindal are likely to run for the nation’s highest office.
Other probable Republican presidential candidates not scheduled to speak at the NRA show include New Jersey’s Gov. Chris Christie and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.
The only other confirmed Republican presidential hopeful so far is Sen. Rand Paul, who wasn’t invited to the gun convention because of his affiliation with competing gun rights organization the National Association for Gun Rights, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The gun control side will also be represented in Nashville this weekend, with meetings and rallies planned by Everytown For Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America, who plan to “counter the gun lobby’s dangerous agenda,” according to a statement released Wednesday by Everytown.
The groups plan on nearly 400 gun safety advocates to attend, a small group when compared to the approximate 70,000 expected to fill the convention proper.
Ahead of the show, Everytown released a video this week poking fun at the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre and his perceived fear mongering. With children dressed in suits and glasses, the video mocked the gun rights group’s executive vice president, repeating lines he delivered in speeches.
Tennessee is one of the most gun-friendly states in the union and gun manufacturers seem to agree. Last year, Beretta packed up and left its Maryland home for the Volunteer State. Jeff Cooper, Beretta’s general manager, cited Maryland’s passage of the restrictive Firearm Safety Act of 2013 as the main reason for the move.