Here’s What Happened When a 64-year-old Liberal Attended his First NRA Convention

Here’s What Happened When a 64-year-old Liberal Attended his First NRA Convention

Liberal people by their nature tend to have open minds, and one man recently told his story about taking up the hobby of shooting. Upon retirement, he had time to learn new things and entered the world of gun ownership. As a self-described liberal, he soon found himself to be a rare species among conservative gun owners.

Although the supposed logic of the holy trinity of God, guns, and conservatism eluded him, he still traveled to a National Rifle Association convention in Atlanta, Georgia. While mingling with attendees, he spoke with many people in order to gain a better understanding of their views.

On the 15-acre convention floor, he hoped to encounter some gun owners willing to focus on the founding principles of the NRA, which were gun safety, training, and responsible ownership. Reportedly, 90 percent of NRA members supported background checks.

At the convention, he mingled with people who fit the NRA stereotype that he dubbed the three Bs of beards, baseball caps, and bellies. Women and families were in abundance as well. He witnessed affectionate elderly couples, gun-toting widows, mother-daughter pairs, and a school teacher with a young child.

His conversations soon revealed a nearly unanimous adherence to NRA talking points, most of which provoked fear within the membership. People of all classes, age, and genders focused their gun beliefs on self defense, blaming people for killing instead of guns, and the Second Amendment from the Bill of Rights. Fear appeared to rule the minds of the convention goers, who seemed to see the world as lawless, overrun by criminals, and threatened by Islamic terrorists. They regarded men who did not arm themselves as cowards and unarmed woman as doomed to be raped. When he told people that crime was not bad where he lived, they did not believe him.

As for the massacre at the Sandy Hook elementary school, people blamed the school and lies told by the media. The school teacher that he spoke to said there should be armed people at schools to defend from them from attackers. His earlier hopes about finding support for gun background checks were dashed when one convention goer wondered who gets to decide who is mentally ill.

To clear his mind, he traveled a few blocks from the convention and attended a rally organized by Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense. Most of them were African American, a race largely absent from the NRA convention, and they were displaying pictures of their slain children. Because they lived in violent neighborhoods, some of them expressed support for gun freedoms and owned guns themselves. Even so, they wanted to prevent gun sales to the wrong people, and they supported background checks, waiting periods, and a ban on gun sales at pawn shops.

These encounters made him wonder why the message of danger resonated with the NRA members, who mostly did not experience violence at home, and not with the people who lived in high-crime areas with legitimate needs for self defense. He suspected that the pro-gun movement of the NRA in many ways contributed to the gun violence in inner cities. He returned home wondering if his new shooting hobby contradicted his values and concluded that golf might suit him better.