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The NRA Annual Meetings Are The World’s Largest Family Reunion

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Anyone that wants to give you a gun is family; anyone that wants to take a gun is your enemy.

The National Rifle Association 2023 Annual Meeting was held in Indianapolis, Indiana from April 14–16. You can, and will, find all of your favorite firearm friends at the NRAAMs; Podcasters, authors, YouTubers, gun instructors, activists, firearms companies, ammunition sellers, holster-makers, accessory companies, hunting outfitters, etc.…You name it! If they’re in the gun community, they’re probably going to be at the NRAAM.

This is only my second year attending an NRAAM. I have been to the SHOT Show four times and I’ve been going to the Gun Rights Policy Conference since 2016. Going to any of these events really is a family reunion. I didn’t really realize what that meant until I went to GRPC for the second year. The first year I made new friends and started following everyone on social media. Every time I attend any of these events, I make new friends. I start to follow them on social media and interact with them somehow through social media. Then the next time I see them it’s got that family reunion feel where you’re really excited to see each other.

I got in on Thursday, the day before things officially started. I reconnected with some old friends and walked around to see if we could see any other folks we knew that were there early. A small group of us ended the night having cigars and whiskey. After the first drink, we started speaking with the group of three people next to us. Shocking/not shocking, it turns out that they were also there for NRAAM too. They were from a company called Glove Station. Two of us were from the east coast, one of us was from the central part of the country, and the guys from Glove Station were from the Los Angeles area. After a couple of jokes, and a few laughs, it’s as if we were old buddies. Most of us were from “occupied territory“ and we were able to identify with and commiserate with each other, as both of our states have gun bans, “assault weapon” bans, and magazine restrictions.

On Friday, when we finally got up and going, we cruised around the floor, darting back-and-forth between our new friends from Glove Station and visiting a number of the other manufacturers that we wanted to pop in and see. Not necessarily being a gear guy, I’m always more interested in making connections, increasing my circle of friends, and hopefully solidifying relationships to help me get the “stagecoach across America.“ I’m also always keeping an eye out to see who I could have as a guest on my show, Riding Shotgun With Charlie.

Of course, we did meet some of the big-name folks, but we also needed to take care of some business. One of the things we needed to do was gather with the DC Project women to join them for a march from the NRAAM down to the State Capital in Indianapolis. Some of the ladies were going to visit local politicians and lawmakers, and give them the stories of women gun ownership. There were only a few “red shirts” that were protesting across the street from us. Unfortunately, there were media cameras and microphones for them. But for the 30+ people that gathered and donned teal shirts and signs, they didn’t have any mainstream media coverage for.

I was able to get together with a small group of friends who had a vehicle and we were able to travel about 20 minutes outside of the downtown area for dinner that night.

We got up on Saturday for more of the same. We spent some time having coffee in the media room and catching up with other content creators and writers. Before the doors opened, there was a singer who performed the Star Spangled Banner. Everyone in the media room went to the door and stood, quietly, with their hand over their heart. Those with hats uncovered and put their hats over their heart.

I went out to hit the floor to find some companies I’d like to build professional relationships with. The hard thing about needing to “work” is that you run into so many people that you know, some people you want to know, and people who want to know you from all of your content creating and publishing. You know?

All the while we are out “working it,” there are several seminars and workshops for all of the attendees. Some presenters were from Active Self Protection; John Correia, Neil Weidner, & Stephanie Weidner. Others were Nikki Goeser – who watched her husband get murdered by his stalker, and Lt Col, Dave Grossman. Many of the seminars are geared towards helping those people who want to live the armed lifestyle responsibly. We were able to wrap up Saturday evening with a large group of old and new acquaintances, and all immediately have a magical bond over their love and appreciation of our Second Amendment and freedom.

After a late Saturday evening, it would have been nice to remember that Sunday didn’t kick off until 10 am. But, that gave us downtime for some breakfast and coffee. There were a few last minute connections that needed to be made. We hit a couple of the raffles and giveaways and I came home with a Sonoran Desert Institute travel coffee mug. No FFL required wins for me.

The feeling in the hall was a bit tired. Some people were out later than others and they were feeling it. It was the last chance to see what you needed to see and I think we got to everyone and every place we needed to visit. We texted some friends for lunch and afternoon drinks to recap their weekend events and meetings.

After a steak and whiskey early dinner, we may have crashed a private get together. But once you’re in the party, you need to enjoy the time there. Finally, we were exhausted and called it a weekend, heading back to the hotel to pack and prepare for the trip home.

Despite all of the things going on at the NRA, I do think we need a strong NRA. The NRA often takes slings from arrows from the anti-gun crowd, the redshirts, and the mainstream media. But while that is happening, we have other groups that are working behind the scenes and getting things done. These are groups like the Second Amendment Foundation, Firearms Policy Coalition, and Gun Owners Of America. Of course, every state has a pro gun organization that is doing things at the state level. We need to make sure that we support those as well.

Some of the fantastic things that happened prior to this weekend is having my very good friend Amanda Suffecool get elected to the NRA BOD. But it was also great to see another good friend, Rick Ector get elected as the 76th board member, which is only a one year position.

As much as it is a wonderful way to recharge your batteries, there are still several personal and professional acquaintances that were not able to attend the meetings. We will have another family reunion with them at other events this summer, whether it’s a training course, a state level 2A event, or AMMcon/GRPC this fall.

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