NRA Annual Convention Kicks Off In Downtown Houston

Ron Odom of Pearland, 66, gets registered.
The annual meeting of the NRA officially kicked off today at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston. More than 70,000 members are expected at the three-day event. KUHF's Carrie Feibel dropped by and spoke to members as they browsed the convention floor, examining new guns, holsters and hunting equipment. She also spoke to protestors outside.

The general mood at the convention is one of guarded exuberance.

Members say they were happy that gun-control legislation failed in Congress, but they don’t consider it a done deal. It was a victory, yes, but only one in a long, ongoing struggle.

Ron Odom is a retired IT professional from Pearland.

“I am very worried, and I don’t see this as being the end of it. Barack Obama is going to come in and try to use executive orders to do whatever he can. Of course what he would like to do is strip every citizen of their rights – constitutional rights, first, second amendment the whole thing. He doesn’t like the constitution.”

Betty and her husband flew in from Seattle to attend their first-ever convention.

She says this was definitely the year to show up and help support the organization.

“It’s not over so we’ll become stronger supporters of NRA.”

Betty didn’t want to give her last name because she says the fact that she owns guns is a private matter.  

When asked about the school shooting in Connecticut and the movie theater shooting in Colorado, Betty was quite sympathetic, but says those tragedies are not a justification for gun control.

“But all of those particular tragedies would not have prevented even with the measures they were trying to pass, it wouldn’t haven’t prevented them. And it’s sad, and it’s a pure tragedy for the families and the people it happened to, but don’t take away my rights because of that.”

Erica Lafferty
Erica Lafferty, 27
Her mother was the principal of Sandy Hook elementary school. She was killed in the shooting. Her daughter flew here to try to have a "dialogue" with NRA members and leaders.

Across the street from the convention center, a small group of gun-control proponents had gathered. One woman read aloud the names of people killed in gun violence.

Among the protestors was Erica Lafferty of Naugatuck, CT.

The 27-year-old is the daughter of Dawn Hochsprung, the principal of Sandy Hook Elementary School.

She says she felt compelled to fly to Houston and try to talk to NRA members.

“I didn’t ever need to be a part of this, but my mom was brutally murdered in the halls of an elementary school. And I don’t want anyone to have to feel like I feel. It’s not fun.”

Lafferty says she’s confused when she hears NRA members talk about their rights being trampled, when she just wants to close loopholes in existing gun laws.

“I want to know who’s trying to take away their gun rights. As it stands right, there are background checks in place, if you can pass a background check and you’re a responsible gun owner, then what’s 90 seconds of your life? Because it’s going to save a lot of lives.”

The convention will continue through the weekend, with a “Stand and Fight” rally scheduled for Saturday night and led by Glenn Beck.

Memorial tattoo
Memorial tattoo in memory of her mother Dawn Hochsprung

Bio photo of Carrie Feibel

Carrie Feibel

Health & Science Reporter

Carrie Feibel is KUHF's health and science reporter. She comes to Houston Public Radio after ten years as a print reporter...