HOUSTON - Thousands of National Rifle Association delegates are arriving in Houston for the NRA convention being held in downtown May 3 to May 5. The organization comes to town flush with victory in the most recent fight over gun control, but they are still warning members that their rights, culture and values remain under attack.
This year's speakers are a who's who of Tea Party favorites including Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Governor Rick Perry, Sarah Palin, Rick Santorum, and Glenn Beck.
Just about every gun manufacturer in the world is setting up shop at the George R. Brown Convention Center , too, to show their wares for the 70,000 people expected to attend. Drew Kelley says it's important for companies like his to be here.
"The NRA membership is one of the most important segments of gun owner community in the U.S. because they bring pressure against politicians to make sure our 2nd amendment rights are protected," said Kelley of Archangel Manufacturing, a rifle manufacturer.
The NRA chalked up a victory in the senate recently by defeating a bill to bolster background checks. NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre is telling conventioneers it's time to stand and fight. And NRA President David Greene has strong words about the defeat.
"It was significant, but as I say, one of the things we don't do is we don't mistake battles for war. It was a victory in a battle but the war continues," said Keene.
"It think it's good for the city," said Vaughn McVey. "It's good for downtown."
As a Houston resident McVey likes the economic impact the convention will have. So does Greg Ortale with the Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau
But there is opposition, even in gun friendly Texas, where a University of Texas/Texas Tribune polls show 78 percent of Texans support background checks. About half of a million Texans have concealed carry permits. But polls show a majority in the state not only support background checks at gun shows and private sales, but a slim majority of Texans also support a ban of high-capacity ammunition magazines.
Michelle Greene of Mothers Demand Action for Gun Sense will be leading protests outside the convention to send a message to lawmakers backed by the NRA.
"They did not rep their constituents. We're going to let them know they do represent the NRA leadership, they represent us the voters."
"Stand and Fight" is the theme of the convention this year. Beck will host the Stand and Fight Rally Saturday evening. The political stars will appear together in a forum at the convention center Friday afternoon.
Beginning Monday, the NRA will have a new president, Alabama attorney Jim Porter, replaces Keene whose two-year term concludes this week at the convention.
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