NRA gathers as gun debate cools, shifts focus
April 24th, 2014
05:00 AM ET
3 months ago

NRA gathers as gun debate cools, shifts focus

(CNN) – The National Rifle Association holds its annual meeting this weekend with the gun debate cooling overall and pivoting to the states, where gun-control advocates are recalibrating around big money.

The three-day event in Indianapolis is expected to draw 70,000 to its sprawling shooting, hunting and outdoor exhibits as well as rallies, seminars and concerts.

Big politicos will take the stage on Friday for speeches at the NRA’s leadership forum in an effort to energize gun control advocates, who claimed victory in the high-stakes legislative battle last year in Congress.

Potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates, including Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, a 2012 GOP White House contender, are scheduled to address the audience.

Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, who's facing a tough re-election battle in Kentucky this year, will speak at the forum as well.

The question is whether he’ll show up on stage with a long-gun, repeating his appearance before conservative activists in March.

And Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska and 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee, is set to appear at a separate event Saturday night, the "Stand and Fight Rally."

The event takes place with the national debate over guns cooling in a midterm election year.

Last year's meeting in Houston followed the Newtown, Connecticut elementary school massacre and came amid the battle over gun-control legislation in Washington.

The Democratic controlled Senate ultimately failed to move forward with legislation to expand background checks, a blow to President Barack Obama and the gun control movement.

Gun-rights activists heralded the victory as evidence the country was on their side even though polls at the time indicated that nearly nine in 10 Americans supported the measure.

Public backing for more gun control, however, has generally declined in the past year.

The debate has become largely dormant on the national stage, despite more mass shootings and renewed concern over inner city violence, including in Chicago where close to 45 people were shot last weekend alone.

The effort has shifted to the state and local level to both expand and tighten gun laws.

Georgia governor signs gun law

Gun-control activists will also head to Indianapolis this weekend to demonstrate near the convention. Over 100 moms and 20 gun violence survivors will attempt to raise awareness.

The activists represent Everytown for Gun Safety, the new organization backed by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, as well as Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

Bloomberg pledged last week to spend $50 million of his own money to fund the gun-control movement and take on the NRA.

On the eve of this weekend's gathering, former President Bill Clinton will headline a fundraiser in Manhattan on Wednesday for the gun-control group founded by former Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly.

Approximately 50 people will attend the fundraiser for Americans for Responsible Solutions at a private home.

Giffords, severely wounded during a 2011 shooting in Tucson, and Kelly, a former astronaut, are both gun owners.

CNN's Kevin Bohn contributed to this report.


Filed under: Gun control • Gun rights • NRA
soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. Marie MD

    Funny how all the who cares speakers are white but the nra continues to have a black man as their main picture. Or is it CNN?
    Is McConnell going to hold that rifle as a little girl again? He looked ridiculous at the cpac or wherever his ilk gets together to hate.
    As far as that screecher from AK, and the number one "lady" of the night, she more than anyone else in this world doesn't know what it really is to "Stand and Fight" for anything but making money with lies.

    April 24, 2014 06:35 am at 6:35 am |
  2. Gurgyl

    Yes, USA needs stronger Gun-Ban Laws. Period. This second Amendment is a total bs. Europe has Gun-Ban, rest of the world has Gun-Ban. Why not USA?

    April 24, 2014 06:42 am at 6:42 am |
  3. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    A five year old boy recently picked up his father's machine gun and killed his two year old sibling. They won't bring THAT up in Indianapolis.

    April 24, 2014 06:46 am at 6:46 am |
  4. S. B. Stein

    I think that the NRA has its place in the society. Unfortunately, I think they have become too much of a group of unreasonable zealots to be a welcomed in a tolerant and thinking society. We must acknowledge that firearms are a part of the country (past and present). The issue is who gets them and the reasonable use of the weapons. I think that all can agree that weapons should be kept out of the hands of criminals. I think that most reasonable hunters will agree that assault /military style weapons aren't hunting weapons unlike shot guns and single firing round rifles. Extended magazines of anything more than 10 is for military and police use only. Personally, I think that once weapons are seized from criminals that they should either be dissembled or used by police.

    April 24, 2014 07:12 am at 7:12 am |
  5. Tampa Tim

    The only thing that can stop a bad guy with a RPG is a good guy with a RPG. The only thing that can stop a bad guy with an M1Abrams Tank is a good guy with an M1 Abrams Tank. The only thing that can stop a bad guy with a nuclear weapon, is a good guy with a nuclear weapon.
    Remember when the NRA was only about gun education and gun safety?

    April 24, 2014 07:15 am at 7:15 am |
  6. Anonymous

    I didn't see Ted " Motor City Idiot" Nugent's name mentioned.

    April 24, 2014 07:20 am at 7:20 am |
  7. sammy750

    This is a group of radicals that thinks they are promoting the second amendment, but really promoting mass killings. surprise murders, whether in a church, airport or bar in GA. This is a group that is passing laws just to create the worst murders every, in those states where the NRA control the politicians. I recommend that people DO NOT travel to GA as it will be the new killing field, like FL has been. The NRA who uses the 2nd amendment for PROFITS over the death of people. Who promotes criminals to kill and stand our ground.

    April 24, 2014 07:28 am at 7:28 am |
  8. The Real Tom Paine

    Do they have a seminar on how to fundraise off the bodies of 20 six year-olds? Gun hoarding is a disease, and the NRA is the enabler. Way to go, whack-jobs.

    April 24, 2014 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  9. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    The United States is being bought and paid for by the NRA and the Kock Bros.

    April 24, 2014 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  10. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Georgians cherish their Second Amendment rights, and this law embodies those values.”
    -------------------------------------------------
    That's a blatant lie.
    This law embodies the values of the NRA hierarchy not its membership; regular folks who will now attend church or go to their local watering holes hoping not to get shot by a drunk or a disbeliever.

    April 24, 2014 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  11. Rudy NYC

    Gee, when that other NRA, the National Restaurant Association, meets it doesn't merit national political headlines. But, this NRA has evolved from a organization of gun hobbyists and weekend hunters into an advocacy group for gun and ammo manufacturers.

    You disagree? Just take a look at who is on the board of directors. Each and every one of them is either a top executive or an owner of a company that manufactures either weapons or ammunitions. There's not a single weekend warrior among them. Yet, they will have you believe that they put the interests of those weekend warriors above all else. Hogwash. They are in the business of selling guns and ammo, and that is the only interest that they serve. Gun rights is just an altruistic sounding smoke screen to encourage people to buy more guns, and then even more guns and ammo.

    April 24, 2014 08:39 am at 8:39 am |