"North Carolina State law prohibits the carrying of firearms in the Charlotte Convention Center, and the Time Warner Cable Arena," the sign outside the convention hall reads. "In addition, the Rules and Regulations of the Charlotte Convention Center prohibit the carrying of firearms in the Center. Pursuant to Time Warner Cable Arena policy, all individuals entering the Arena will be subject to a magnetometer security check."
Sound like the entryway into this years' Netroots Nation, a convention of liberal bloggers?
Well, it isn't: it's the sign outside the door to the convention for the country's largest gun rights organization, the NRA.
While the National Rifle Association is pushing for looser rules governing concealed weapons, they've agreed to restrictions opposing to the weapons appearing on their own convention floor. The national gun lobby held their event in Charlotte, NC this past weekend.
The liberal blog ThinkProgress, which has posted in support of gun control, sent a correspondent to the convention to interview attendees. Three NRA convention members expressed support for the convention center's anti-gun policy. "You donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have a problem with not bringing firearms here?" the blog asked.
"Not really," one NRA member said. "ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s up to the individual place of business. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s their right to do as they choose. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s my right to choose not to come in if I choose not to do so.
"I understand it," said another. "I think most people carry a gun for self defense. In a place like this, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve seen enough police presence around here I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think that there would be much of a problem."
Josh Sugarman, executive director of the liberal Violence Policy Center in Washington, mocked the NRA's rules in a blog entry at The Huffington Post.
"The NRA could publicly gnash their teeth and caterwaul about mass disarmament resulting from the draconian rules imposed by the state of North Carolina and the dark overlords of the Time-Warner Cable Arena," Sugarman writes. "Instead, they relegate the issue to a note on their website."
In response to inquiries, the NRA sent the following note from "Ken" at NRA member communications.
Thank you for contacting us.
The Charlotte Convention Center does not allow the carrying of firearms, both open and concealed.
The large size of our event and the fact that many of the largest convention centers are in some of the most restrictive cities leaves us with relatively few convention centers large enough to accommodate the Annual Meetings. In an effort to provide all NRA members a better opportunity to attend the Annual Meetings, it is important that we move the event around the country as much as possible. While we will not consider bringing the Annual Meetings to a city with gun laws we feel are restrictive, we must however deal with convention centers that have restrictions simply because there are so few convention centers that both allow conceal carry and are large enough to host all of the events that comprise the Annual Meetings.
Thank you for your support!
NRA Member Communications
One gun-rights enthusiast writing on an open-carry forum said he was confused by the organization's justification for a gun ban at their event.
"I'm scratching my head here," the poster wrote. "Shouldn't the NRA go out of its way to accommodate the gun-carrying (not just the gun owning) public?
"Why not a gathering at some sort of park, private club, or open carry friendly restaurant? (renting out an entire large restaurant that is confirmed to be gun-carry friendly and legal) Are they saying they are not truly smart or savvy enough to find a place that will accomplish this goal and show us as we truly are instead of disarming us? If a gun show can be held at the State Fairgrounds (or a convention center or some place like that), why not a gun-owner gathering?"
"I just don't get it," the poster added.
ThinkProgress' interviews with NRA attendees appear in the video following.
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