Standing in the backyard of the church I basically lived in for over 20 years, I fired off one round from my dad’s .45 caliber and that was it–the casing was stuck in the chamber and we couldn’t get it out. Comparing the cost of how much the repair was going to be, my father decided to buy a new gun.
My dad and I are not firearm experts and we may not agree on political parties, but we are in agreement when comes to the 2nd Amendment. So when I saw that the NRA Annual Meeting was going to be in Atlanta, Georgia, I asked my dad to go with. I told him about the exhibits, explaining that it’s like a gun show but on a much larger scale. My father had never been to a gun show; living in rural Alabama the nearest gun show was maybe 30-45 miles away and he never really thought about going. I went to my first gun show a few years ago in Texas so I definitely wanted to attend the Atlanta event not only because it would be my first NRA Annual Meeting but I would also take my dad to one of the largest exhibits of firearms in the country.
As the days leading up to the event, I posted what I thought was an ordinary tweet about my excitement in attending the Annual Meeting with my father:
— Brian (@BL_Bledsoe) April 24, 2017
But apparently anti-gun groups noticed my tweet and proceeded to use their usual tactics of profanity, mockery, and fascist arguments against the NRA and the 2nd amendment. I didn’t feel compelled to respond much to their replies (mainly because there wasn’t any call for any honest dialogue on the issue, just profane tirades). None of this dampened my excitement about going, and if anything it emboldened me because I’m vehemently opposed to any group looking to restrict citizens from our right to bear arms!
Finally we arrived in downtown Atlanta and saw NRA banners on the streets. As we checked into our hotel we saw people from the Georgia World Congress Center getting ready for the next couple of days in gun heaven.
The NRA Annual Meeting had advertised that the exhibit area would feature 15 acres of guns and gear and when we walked in, it was an awesome sight to behold. As we entered we were greeted with a huge NRA display, as well as a NRATV set where Grant Stinchfield and Bill Whittle were doing a live stream from the exhibit floor. I ran into NRA host Colion Noir and told him I appreciated the different approach in how he talked about guns.
Walking from aisle to aisle, it was inspiring to see so many different types of firearms, ammunition, accessories and all the different ways to customize it all. As someone who has been to large gun shows it was still overwhelming for both my dad and me–like getting hit with a tidal wave of Gun Awesomeness.
My father’s favorite part of the NRA meeting was the seminars. He thought they were very informative and learned a lot. We both enjoyed listening to the speakers at the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum.
Last year at the Annual Meeting the NRA endorsed then-candidate Donald Trump so the crowd was anxious to hear from now-President Trump. When the President arrived on stage the crowd was on their feet and didn’t sit down during his entire 30-minute speech. After President Trump, we heard from Senator Ted Cruz, Antonia Okafor, and Lt. Col Allen West.
My father was also made aware of issues that, to him, were simply based on common sense. National reciprocity was mentioned numerous times not only on stage but also on the exhibit floor. National reciprocity basically allows people who have concealed carry permits in their state the right to carry in other states. We also learned about a new program called NRA Carry Guard. The program provides insurance in case someone uses their firearm in self-defense as well as training to become more confident if such a situation occurs.
After a full day of information and exploring the exhibit hall, my father and I were both amazed with the overall astounding world of firearms and the multiple vendors representing every aspect of firearms. I’m certainly interested in becoming more proficient in handling firearms, so from now until the next annual meeting next year I’m excited to learn as much as I can (in part so I can ask better questions next time).
Thanks to the NRA for having me and I look forward to attending again next year back home in Dallas!