Sunday, May 17, 2009

Tay at the NRA

With friends and family at one of the dinners

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....



Tom said...

I must say that I am disgusted by your recent post about the NRA. This has absolutely no place on a blog run by a parish priest. Also on the right side of your blog you have a list of twitter updates and here is a direct quote from one of them.

"The NRA show floor was a lot of fun. Got to play with some highly advanced weaponry like they were playground toys."

Playground toys? You compare weapons that can be used to destroy lives and are used in warfare and crime to playground toys? I'm afraid you are a very stupid man if you think so, and are setting a horrible example as a Priest and are disgracing the Anglican Diocese of Toronto.

I'm seriously debating whether to send an email to your area Bishop.

You've lost a reader.

Tay Moss said...

I'm sorry you feel that way, Tom. Obviously, I'm going to disagree with you about this, but I respect your opinion and I'll even let it stand on my website.


Felicity Pickup said...

I really don't see anything wrong with one of my neighbourhood parish priests being knowledgeable, even enthusiastic, about firearms. Someone other than dedicated killers and gun dealers has to be!! So many of us church members do nothing more than express anxiety about the increase in shooting deaths in T.O. I'm willing to have my horizons broadened by Tay sharing this interest and knowledge in his blog.

I meant to say about the video, Tay, "It's great to see you looking so relaxed and happy on vacation."

"Play" things? Yes that jars because of my own distaste and fears about guns. But I don't see it as un-priestly or stupid (in fact it's part of a priest's role) to be able to experience the reality of "all sorts and conditions" of humanity; not excluding the allure of the firearm.

Of course I'm assuming, Tay, that you don't keep a weaponry collection in a home in my neighborhood waiting to be stolen.

As for the local bishops, I guess their OK with military and prison chaplaincies?

But it occurs to me that perhaps the other commentator, Tom, has experienced a personal tragedy related to the use of firearms. And that would make a difference in how he sees things.

Tay Moss said...

I was being intentionally ironic calling them "toys"--I was playing on the cognitive dissonance of handling these weapons so casually at this event. It was certainly an odd experience, and I was trying to describe that in a witty way.

Nope, no firearms here. I left them with my father-in-law for safe keeping. And yes, he does keep them locked.

Yes, the rise in gun violence in Toronto is alarming. Overall in Canada gun deaths (per capita) have been falling steadily since 1991. And I know that gun deaths have been declining since the 2005 "year of the gun"), but it is still far too many.

Yes, it is possible that Tom experienced a personal tragedy caused by gun violence. But he could have strong feelings for other reasons as well. Irregardless, we are all have a right to our opinions!


Jeremy said...

Great blog and video, Tay.
And yup... it sure is 'tan'.