My experience at the NRA Convention

Jomilla Newsom

Jomilla Newsom

I will admit I was a little nervous as I entered the Nashville Convention center on April 10th.

I don’t know why I was so nervous. It wasn’t like one of the thousands of attendees was going to pull out their concealed gun on me and demand what I was doing there but hey you never know.

I figured if I just put my head down and engulfed myself in my tweets then no one would notice or try to talk to me.

“Conservatives, conservatives everywhere!” I tweeted to my timeline.

There were so many people!

The National Rifle Association had expected 70,000 attendees for its annual convention in Nashville this past weekend — but those projections weren’t high enough.

The official attendance for the world’s longest running Shooting & Hunting Show was an outstanding 78,865, making it the second LARGEST NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits on record. With over 550 exhibitors, the exhibit hall and Freedom Festival were packed with NRA members the entire weekend, many of whom traveled from all over the country to attend the event.

I’m not sure the exact numbers on how many of those people were Black, but I can tell you while I was there, the only black people I saw were those working the event or speaking at it.

For those who don’t know the National Rifle Association of America (NRA) is an American nonprofit organization whose primary mission is “[to] protect and defend the Constitution of the United States…”, especially the right to keep and bear arms.

They conduct seminars on guns, do defense training and have several speeches and presentations throughout the convention.

Within my first ten minutes of sitting down and listening to the speaker she made references to Ferguson, Democrats and President Obama. I’m not sure of her name because I walked in during the middle of her speech but I was shocked to see such a beautiful woman talk so harshly off our nation’s leader and his policies.

There were some big top names in the building including Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and Donald Trump.

For Bush, the NRA meeting was a chance to tout his record, including his A+ rating from the NRA, before a conservative crowd that’s largely skeptical of him due to his more moderate positions on immigration and Common Core.

Bush proclaimed to the audience that he’s “been with you in trenches” as an “NRA life member since 1986.” He also listed the gun rights measures he enacted or maintained as former governor, and defended the stand your ground laws in Florida that became a hot topic following the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

I will admit my experience at the NRA convention wasn’t all-bad. Some speakers made it clear that they weren’t gun nuts but simply people who owned guns because they deemed it necessary. They explained that owning a gun was part of their culture and how they were raised. This broadened my perspective and put NRA members in another light.