While families attended the National Rifle Association’s convention in Houston to teach their children about guns and gun safety, protesters and media used the Newtown, Ct. shooting to paint the NRA as heartless.
The New York Daily News headline proclaimed, “NRA convention: Children play with guns, stare at semi-automatic weapons while grieving Newtown parent Neil Heslin looks on.” With a clear bias present, the article contained many such references throughout.
Two 10-year-olds took aim with air pistols, an 11-year-old gawked at a semi-automatic weapon and a 3-year-old soaked up applause for being a National Rifle Association member.
Hundreds of children laughed and played at the NRA convention Saturday, and the sight made Newtown father Neil Heslin remember his son.
Heslin was outside with protesters trying to sway NRA members attending the convention. “Looking at some of them, the same age my little boy who was killed in his classroom, it makes you think,” he said. “It’s not right.”
But with about 70,000 attending this weekend, the NRA announced it has surged to a record five million active members, and their fight to preserve the Second Amendment is has not wavered.
Charles C.W. Cooke of the National Review Online spent some time with the protesters, about 30 of them, and found that they were “nice, clueless, unsure.”
I stood around with them for a couple of hours this afternoon, discussing the issues and asking where they were coming from, and I found them to be charming to a man. Still, they are typical of most anti-gun types that I have met: their hearts are in the right place, but they know not of what they speak. And, worse, when pushed they’re not really sure what they think.
Cooke put together a video of his conversations with the protesters and explained their plight.
Notice the meandering agenda, the lack of detail, and the tendency to mask a bigger agenda in the cloak of “background checks.” This was typical. By contrast, the National Rifle Association’s members are formidable. I have been genuinely impressed at the sheer depth of knowledge that the average attendee boasts — not just about firearms, but about firearms law and about American history. It strikes me that if the gun control movement is to improve its performance, step one will be to master the issues. Without doing so, they will continue to be left in the dust; well-intentioned but railing at clouds.
Inside the convention hall, outgoing NRA President David Keene referred to the recent tragedies and the challenge it presents.
“We’ve all been under attack,” Keene said, “by those who would exploit the victims of a madman to advance their own anti-Second Amendment agenda.”
Watch Cooke’s video with protesters here.
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