The National Rifle Association is expecting a record turnout at its annual members’ meeting in Pittsburgh next month, the result, organizers say, of a growing national backlash against government intrusion into Second Amendment rights.
The event, which runs from April 29 to May 1, will feature a keynote by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a presentation of the Ronald Reagan Leadership Award by the late president’s son, Michael Reagan, and a performance by award-winning comedian Jeff Foxworthy.
NRA officials say publicly they expect at least 60,000 people to turn out for the convention.
But with attendance of more than 71,000 setting records last year -- and with more than a million NRA members within reasonable driving distance of Pittsburgh -- this year’s show could draw an all-time high crowd of around 75,000.
Greater Pittsburgh Convention & Visitors Bureau officials say 27 hotels have already booked 4,750 rooms for the event.
The torrid interest stems from growing outrage over increasing government efforts to curtail gun ownership, says NRA Director of Public Affairs Andrew Arulanandam.
“People value their freedom now more than ever,” Arulanandam tells Newsmax. “They see an administration they don’t trust. They see the willingness of this administration to blame the Second Amendment for things like Mexican drug cartel s and the tragedy in Tuscon.
“President Obama has an abysmal record when it comes to the Second Amendment. His administration is pushing an agenda of gun control,” he says. “Appointees like Eric Holder and Hillary Clinton have spent a lifetime fighting against gun owners. That worries people.”
Arulanandam says NRA members have been especially active almost since the day Obama took office. “Even during a dreadful slowdown in the economy, they went out in record numbers to buy guns,” he says.
“Our members are our strongest asset,” Arulanandam adds. “We know that and the opposition knows that. They are loyal, they work hard, they are very politically savvy, and we can count on them to preserve this great American freedom every election cycle.”
At this year’s annual meeting, those members will be treated to the NRA’s Celebration of American Values Leadership Forum as well as a display of the latest firearm and hunting products, and an extensive private firearms collection displayed by NRA-affiliated gun collector clubs.
The 140-year-old NRA also offers diverse seminars throughout the three-day convention, including methods of concealed carry; hunting in Africa; firearms law; a grassroots workshop; and their popular “Refuse to Be a Victim” sessions.
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