Wednesday, May 19, 2010

People of the gun

This past weekend I attended my very first NRA convention. I have been a member, off and on, for over thirty years. Yet, have never attended the annual meeting before now. Charlotte changed that for me. Probably forever.

You see, the thing that I discovered (re-discovered) is that the People Of The Gun are truly some of the nicest people that you ever want to meet. Sure, we have our quirks. We have our flakes. But overall, we have a passion for our hobby that is infectious and inviting.

Most of the "gunnies" that I know will take a "newbie" out to the range, pay the fees, buy the ammo, and do the instructional things necessary to ensure that the new shooter is safe. And then, they try very hard to make sure that the shooter has fun. Lots of fun...

Having been involved in other hobbies, I am not sure that the same enthusiasm for outreach exists to this degree (Major exception: aviation). Yet, you see gun owners bending over backwards to bring new people into the sport. To teach women how to protect themselves. To reach out, through organizations like Second Amendment Sisters and Pink Pistols, to diverse groups not normally associated with the stereotypical gun enthusiast. The outreach continues with programs like the Appleseed project, the Civilian Marksmanship Program, and Boomershoot. The people who run these programs, or volunteer their time to assist, do so for the love of the sport and the continuation of our liberty. Our civil rights. Our HUMAN rights.

This past weekend, I got to meet with leaders in the industry. I got to meet with the "movers and shakers" in the area of advocacy. I got to meet with media types ("old" and "new"). And, I got to meet new friends. It was a humbling experience. It also cemented my belief that we gun owners are the very foundation of what's good and right in America today.

During the recording of Vicious Circle on Sunday, Breda made a comment about how the gun culture varies regionally (in reference to the NRA's desire to move their convention around annually). I disagree with that contention. While we may have regional tastes, this past weekend reinforced to me my belief that the people of the gun, from wherever they may reside, are solid and stalwart citizens who share the same fundamental core values nationwide.

Over seventy thousand people attended this year's convention. While the Charlotte Convention Center disallowed carrying of firearms on-site, most of the people attending brought at least one gun with them into the city. If my duffle bag was any indication, the number of guns in the city increased dramatically. Yet, to the best of my knowledge, no NRA members shot anybody in anger. There was no blood in the streets. There were no angry, armed confrontations at the local Starbucks. None of the hysteria that passes as rational argument from the Anti's came to pass. In fact, the convention-goers were happy, polite, friendly, and courteous.

Even the protesters (all 10 of them) were treated politely...

As I said earlier, I had the pleasure of meeting many "bloggers" and other "folk" while there. The sidebar category of "People I've Met" has grown dramatically. They are all good people. They are all worthy of friendship. They are People of the Gun.




Scott McCray said...

The people of the gun are an awesome group - I'd trust any of the folks I met Saturday at Ri-Ra's to have my back (and I'd be honored to do the same).
Good folk indeed.


Jay G said...

What Scott said.

It was great meeting you FTF Newbius (and Scott).

I'd like to make a similar point - I'd never met you in person before Saturday, yet I had no qualms whatsoever about letting you into my hotel room knowing you were armed.

Think about that for a second.

If we gun owners really were as dangerous as the media makes us out to be, why didn't anything happen?

Well, except the mocking of the "protestors"... ;)

Newbius said...

Heh. Not just armed, but HEAVILY armed. :)

It was great meeting you guys too.

FatWhiteMan said...

This was my 2nd NRA Annual Meeting and I must agree with your assessment of the attendees. One other thing I noticed both in Charlotte and at Louisville in 2008 is that this is the cleanest large group of people you will encounter. Get into a crowd of similar size somewhere else like at a concert or a ball game and look around. In spite of the number of people, the arena and convention center were never trashed and even the bathrooms were clean. This is due in no small part to the facility employees I am sure but I bet if you ask them, they will tell you the same thing.

Breda said...

a wonderful write-up, Newbius. Thank you.

Harvey said...

We,the people of the gun, are a strange group indeed. We go to matches to test our skills against each other, and then help our competitors any way we can. When crowed together at a show or event and bump into someone, our "Excuse Me" is returned with a smile and a nod. And while standing on line with people we never met, we begin to talk and visit with them. What other group joins together people of such diverse backgrounds and otherwise different interests.
Even those whose words are read by thousands on a daily basis, take the time to befriend those whose only published thoughts are comments such as this. I was at the table Saturday night, and I had the pleasure of meeting many of the people listed here. I live in the Charlotte area, and I'm subjected to the onerous laws of NC on a daily basis. I can only hope enough local people met our members to learn that the truth about us doesn't come from politicians or the media. Then we might have some success in changing these outdated, oppressive statues. My thanks to the lovely and charming Breda for arranging the dinner, for it was wonderful time.