Gun enthusiasts – and opponents, too – are descending on Dallas this weekend, as the National Rifle Association holds its annual convention. Keynoting the event Friday is President Donald Trump, who will address a large crowd of attendees.
The event comes on the heels of some of the country’s worst mass shootings in history, including the massacre in Sutherland Springs, where a gunman shot and killed 25 people and an unborn child at a church.
As the gun debate heightens across the country, what the president says and doesn’t say will be under intense scrutiny.
The Texas Standard’s Alain Stephens is in Dallas at the convention.
“Right now, people are pouring in,” he says. “There are people from all walks of life. Families, children here.”
Leading companies in the firearms industry are represented at the event, as are many law enforcement agencies.
“We see scores of Dallas Police Department, scores of state troopers, and a lot of canine officers that have been canvassing the area in preparation for President Trump,” he says.
In some ways, the NRA convention is a large gun show, an opportunity for vendors to show off new and future products. Stephens says convention attendees see the president’s visit as an indication that the NRA’s policy positions are on the right side of the gun control debate.
“He’s going to have a warm reception,” he says. “This is something that they see, with the president being here, as affirmation of their stance on gun control legislation.”
Stephens says some attendees, like real estate agent John Rumpel from North Carolina, are hoping for an update on the NRA’s goals for the year ahead.
“I expect to see what they’re planning on doing regarding the political battle that’s coming up,” Rumpel says. “I want to see what they’re doing to grow our organization.”
In the wake of the Parkland shooting, President Trump suggested some federal gun control measures, then walked back on that position. Attendees are waiting to see the direction he will take in his NRA convention speech.
Written by Jen Rice.