NRA Convention in Charlotte this weekend

I don’t know how I missed this! The National Rifle Association is hosting a convention here in Charlotte this weekend. The group hasn’t had their convention here in the Queen City since then-NRA president Charlton Heston shouted what would become the signature NRA catchphrase, “From my cold, dead hands!”

Now they’re back, and allegedly bringing as many as 70,000 people to Center City for the weekend.

This is actually going to be the largest convention ever held in Charlotte, and will be hosted at the Charlotte Convention Center with related events at the Time Warner Cable Arena. The Charlotte Observer reports that it is expected to bring at least $20 million into the local economy. Apparently it’s so busy that even Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps had a hard time finding a hotel room for the UltraSwim event this weekend.

But nevermind all of the guests… let’s talk about the SPEAKERS. It turns out we’ve have such conservative superstars as former Gov. Sarah Palin, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, broadcaster Glenn Beck, and actor Chuck Norris. (Yes, CHUCK NORRIS!)

The irony for me is that I believe in gun owners’ rights, have owned a gun and went shooting when I was younger, and so on, but I frequently struggle with the ideology of the typical NRA member. This is a very politically conservative group (as evidenced by their panel of speakers, above) and there’s a strong anti-liberal bent to a lot of their members.

I note that NRA membership increased from 3 million to 4 million in the time since President Obama has been in office. And in a Gallup poll (not exclusively directed towards NRA members, but the general public) it was discovered that 55% of gun owners “believed that Obama, backed by a Democratic Congress, would ultimately ban gun sales.”

I’m not sure where these people get that idea that Pres. Obama and the Democratic Congress of are looking to abolish one of the cornerstones of the Bill of Rights in our Constitution, but I chalk it up to “fear of the other side” and leave it at that. Kinda like my irrational fear that conservatives would ship all of the gays away to a desert island if they could get away with it, which is an equally silly fear but just as entrenched.

Anyway, off of my soap box… I’m intrigued by the idea that Center City is about to be bursting at the seams with gun-owning conservative Republicans. Here’s a schedule of events:

  • Friday afternoon: Sarah Palin, Chuck Norris, U.S. Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), and Lt. Col. Oliver North headline the Leadership Forum at Time-Warner Cable Arena.
  • Saturday night: Glenn Beck and Newt Gingrich speak at the “Celebration of American Values Freedom Experience” at the arena. Charlie Daniels will perform.

Tickets to events start at $35. Entry to exhibits alone is $10. Anybody wanna go?

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