A man examines weapons in the exhibit hall at the 143rd NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis. Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images
The National Rifle Association’s national convention drew a counter-demonstration in Indianapolis this weekend, as advocates for gun control press their own agenda near the convention center hosting the event. An NRA official says the group has plenty of support.
The NRA event drew tens of thousands of people, along with keynote speakers such as Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. Saturday night’s events featured retired Lt. Col. Oliver North and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
For our Newscast unit, Jimmy Jenkins of member station WFIU reports:
“The NRA isn’t intimidated by a multimillion-dollar gun control campaign backed by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, spokesperson Andrew Arulanandam says.
” ‘What we do have are millions of members and tens of millions of supporters who will give us small amounts of money,’ he says.
“Those contributions add up to an annual budget of more than $300 million.
“But at a rally a few blocks from the NRA convention, Jennifer Hoppe of the Bloomberg-supported Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America says her group is just as grassroots.
” ‘We’re just here really to be the voice of the 90 percent of Americans that think we can do more to protect our fellow citizens from gun violence,’ Hoppe says.
“Gun control politics will be a keynote issue weekend, as politicians from lawmakers to governors are slated to address the pro-gun group.”
On Friday, Rubio told the audience, “Passing along a family tradition of hunting and shooting is not something that we should have to ask our leaders for permission to do. It is fundamental to achieving happiness in America.”
That’s according to Indiana Public Media, which also quoted state Rep. Ed DeLaney, D-Indianapolis, who participated in a rally pushing for universal background checks. DeLaney told the station that gun rights aren’t under attack in Indiana.
“There is no threat to gun ownership in Indiana. We need to get off pretending that we’re protecting gun owners and get on to protecting people,” DeLaney says.
When they’re not listening to political speeches, many attendees at the NRA meeting are spending the weekend browsing hundreds of firearms on display, as NPR’s Alan Greenblatt reports.