I haven't been posting much because I'm visiting my dad and my sister at the NRA convention in Phoenix, Arizona, this weekend. My sister works for the NRA, so it made sense for the three of us to meet up here. I know that will seem really strange to my Canadian friends and parishioners, but I'm used to maintaining a foot in two worlds.
It's been a series of events for us. Lots of fundraising breakfasts and lunches and dinners. Perhaps the most impressive was tonight's "Celebration of American Values Banquet." There were 6,000 people at that banquet dinner, which is a record for the state of Arizona. It was completely smooth and even delicious. Very polished fundraising operation! The results... in the last two years they've raised something like $110 Million--and that's over and above regular dues to the Association. That's with an advancement staff of about 30 people. Impressive.
Overall there were about 62,000 people at this convention, which makes it the largest convention in Arizona State history. Some of the events were of a mind-boggling scale. I took some video. Here's an example of me playing with a super-advanced rifle designed for U.S. Special Forces. And no, this rifle is not available for civilians, even in America...
In case you're wondering, all weapons on display on the show floor were rendered inoperable by removing the firing pins. Also, there was no ammo on the show floor. There was a also a very heavy security presence in case someone thought that stealing guns from NRA was a good idea!
Almost everyone we met were friendly and personable. You might not agree with their politics, but you can't deny that they are hard-core patriots that believe in liberty. In fact, a lot of the speeches were less about gun-rights, in particular, than the preservation of personal freedoms, generally.
There were some things that definitely made me squirm in my seat. Some of the criticisms of Obama, for example, I thought were unfair or poorly argued. But when everyone rose to say the Pledge of Allegiance or sing the Star Spangled Banner it was hard not to feel a stirring of the heart.
But what I'll remember most is meeting some really fun people. Two couples in particular that we spent time with at the various receptions and events. Just the nicest people you ever met....