The National Rifle Association is expecting the largest turnout ever for its annual convention this weekend in Houston.
Buoyed by the recent defeat of the Senate's gun-control bill, the NRA is in a celebratory mood. It expects to host 70,000 gun supporters for the three-day event, which will include appearances by Sarah Palin and other political conservatives, a gun trade show, a strategy meeting, and a "Stand and Fight" rally.
"If you are an NRA member, you deserve to be proud," Wayne LaPierre, chief executive of the NRA wrote to members last week, telling them they "exemplify everything that's good and right about America," the Huffington Post
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The gun-rights lobbying group spent most of last year fighting the public's growing support for gun control in the aftermath of the mass shootings in Connecticut and Colorado.
The formidable lobbying effort included a successful campaign against a U.S. Senate bill requiring background checks for all commercials gun sales. It also included state campaigns against new gun restrictions.
A number of leading state and national conservatives are scheduled to speak at the conference, according to the Huffington Post. In addition to Palin, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz will also attend.
NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said he expects the event will draw the largest crowd in its history, partially due to its location in a conservative, gun-rights state that leans Republican.
"The geography is helpful," Arulanandam said. "The current [political] climate helps."
More than 500,000 people are licensed to carry concealed handguns in Texas, with weapons permitted in state-capital buildings, where showing a license allows armed visitors to bypass metal detectors, according to the Huffington Post.
Gun-control advocates are expected to descend on the NRA event, too. They plan to hold a vigil for victims of gun violence, circulate a petition to support background checks, and mount a demonstration outside the convention center.
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