Louisville, Kentucky, was the safest place in America this past weekend. Why? The NRA’s 145th Annual Meetings and Exhibits was in town.
I was among the 80,000+ NRA members in attendance at the popular gun gathering. The allure of country music, Hot Brown dishes, guns, bourbon, and Southern hospitality easily drew in people.
The annual convention took place at the Kentucky Exposition Center, which is south of downtown Louisville. Derby City previously played host to NRA Annual Meetings in 2008 and had an economic impact of $4.8 million. This year, the second largest gathering ever–with an estimated 80,452 person attendance–had an estimated economic impact of $53 million.
As expected, this gathering generated a lot of press. From a local paper mocking legal gun owners with a crucifixion cartoon to an unsettling endorsement, there was no shortage of news. Despite threats of protests by anti-gunners and similar antagonists, few threats actually materialized. (I guess rain was a huge deterrent?)
What was I able to accomplish at the conference? I used the event to network, explore the city, and booth visits to ensure I got the most out of my #NRAAM experience. I was fortunate to attend the 10th Annual NRA Women’s Leadership Forum Luncheon surrounded by fellow female gun owners. (Highly recommend you attend this in the future!) I also met outdoor professionals Kristy Titus, Eva Shockey, and Theresa Vail, among many, at their respective booths. And to top off my experience, I even attended several country music concerts: the NRA Country Jam featuring Brett Eldredge and Jana Kramer, followed by a Saturday night concert with Chris Janson and Toby Keith on Armed Forces Day. NRAAM also allowed me to meet up with friends and interact with fellow conservatives whom I hadn’t met before. (I hope others had a similar positive experience!)
Overall, the event was well-organized. Booths were easy to locate, events were generally accessible to conference-goers, and staffers were professional. All in all, very few complaints were made and the majority of attendees were happy. Kudos, NRA!
Why do events like SHOT Show an NRAAM matter? The shooting sports industry plays a critical role in bolstering the economy and providing jobs. Last year, the industry had a $110 billion economic impact on the country. Its importance shouldn’t be downplayed.
Next year, Atlanta will play host to the NRA’s 146th Annual Meetings and Exhibits. Despite the prospective political outcome this fall–it spells bad news either way–this industry will continue to play a critical role in bolstering the economy, shaping future generations, and standing up to big government forces.