Former President Bill Clinton is reportedly scheduled to headline a fundraiser Wednesday night in New York City for former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ gun control organization, Americans for Responsible Solutions, according to Politico, just as the City of Indianapolis rolls out the welcome mat for the National Rifle Association’s 143rd annual convention.
While the NRA event will kick off Friday in the Indiana Convention Center, the Giffords gig will reportedly be held at the home of a New York real estate “mogul.” Politico reported that Giffords’ “super PAC,” that she founded with husband Mark Kelly, had “several quarters of strong fundraising.”
But the Giffords event will pale in comparison to the NRA gathering, which should draw tens of thousands of gun owners from all over the Midwest, and beyond. There are fun events including a concert featuring Alabama and Sara Evans, plus appearances by Sarah Palin and many other luminaries.
NRA conventions have become too big for some facilities. Currently there does not appear to be a convention center large enough in the Pacific Northwest to handle the annual meetings and exhibits, which will cover more than 400,000 square feet and feature more than 600 exhibitors. The last time the NRA met in Washington was in 1997, when the late Charlton Heston arrived in Seattle to run for a 76th seat on the NRA Board of Directors, and subsequently be elected to the position of second vice president.
Heston rose through the chairs to become the longest-serving president in NRA history, with a term spanning five years. He is gone, now, but images of him with a shotgun or a flintlock rifle are still common at the convention, no matter where it is held.
Among the highlights in Indiana are the NRA Foundation banquet and auction, a Leadership Forum and Firearms Law Seminar, a Friday night auction and dinner benefitting NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action and the annual members’ meeting on Saturday. There will also be the popular NRA Store, an airgun range, exhibits of firearms and shooting and hunting accessories, and lots more.
While the Giffords event is aimed at raising money to push lobbying efforts to push laws and programs gun owners dislike, the NRA convention has provided opportunities for gun rights activists to come together, share camaraderie and engage in networking. A Clinton appearance at the Giffords event could motivate people to open their wallets. On the other hand, a speech by Palin could fire up an army of grassroots activists who will go home with a newly-honed sense of political activism.
All of this is unfolding in the wake of a major controversy over billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s launch of a $50 million “grassroots” gun control effort that resulted in an embarrassing battle over pro-gun Facebook pages created under the “Everytown for Gun Safety” name adopted by the Bloomberg group. That controversy continues today as a mystery is surrounding new Facebook pages has emerged, according to The Blaze.
Gun rights activists across the country have launched clones of the original pro-gun “Everytown” Facebook page. At last count there were more than 100 of them, in all states and in some local communities.