GLENN BECK THRILLS THE CROWD AT NRA'S ANNUAL MEETING
As Wayne LaPierre said in his introduction, gun owners couldn't have a better friend in the media than Glenn Beck. And you could tell from the roar of the crowd that everyone there at the Time Warner Cable Arena felt exactly the same way. Glenn took the stage to a standing ovation with an opening cry of "Hello, gun nuts!"
Star of radio, television, and books, Beck decided to ditch the teleprompter and deliver his speech from the hip. "Trouble is what we have, and I'm tired, quite honestly, of people not getting it." he said. "We're Americans. We can handle the truth, we demand the truth and we can understand the truth."
Beck then went on to detail some of the troubles facing America today. No prisoners were taken as he went after the national debt, healthcare, the IMF, the size of government, and more. "What are we doing? We can see the problem!"
A two-time New York Times best seller, Beck has never been shy about sharing his opinions with the masses. In fact, he'll be hitting the road with Bill O'Reilly to do just that, with the "Bold & Fresh Tour", as well as a solo effort titled "American Revival".
After describing what is wrong, he started explaining what is right. Specifically, he said, there are three things that we can believe in. "One, each other. Two, our troops. Three, our cops."
No matter what the trouble, Beck believes there is always one way to survive. "You stand up, get your friends to stand up, and you teach your kids to stand up."
And as the night drew to a close, that's exactly how the audience left him. Applauding madly, hooting and hollering, standing up.
SARAH PALIN SPEAKS AT NRA'S CELEBRATION OF AMERICAN VALUES
Governor Sarah Palin had the crowd at the Time Warner Cable Arena on their feet during the NRA's Celebration of American Values Leadership Forum. A Benefactor member of the NRA, Governor Palin joked with the crowd by saying that she didn't need the teleprompter because everything she needed to know was on the palm of her hands – the message was, "I am the NRA."
After mentioning her son's nickname (Trig,) she quiped that someone asked, "You named your son after part of a gun? You take this NRA thing pretty seriously, don't you?"
"The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," Palin told the packed Times Warner Arena on Friday. Approximately 9,000 NRA members took time to attend this section of the 2010 Annual Meetings.
"American gun owners and hunters, we're not the ones glorifying violence and abuse," she continued, pointing out that Hollywood does not accurately portray gun owners, the vast majority of whom are responsible.
"Gun ownership is at an all-time high and violent crime is near a 30-year low," Palin said. "The anti-gun groups don't deal in common sense. They deal with emotionalism and lies."
She continued with tales of hunting in Alaska, her time since the 2008 Presidental Election, and what a treat it was to be with real people like members of the NRA here in Charlotte, North Carolina.
On the way out of the Time Warner Cable Arena, NRAblog stopped one attendee for his take on the speech.
"She was great," NRA member Gary Williams told us. "I don't know what she has planned, but she really gave a terrific speech today. Made me proud to be a member of the NRA … just like Sarah."
THEODORE 'DUTCH' VAN KIRK
When you ask people if they know the name Theodore Van Kirk, "Dutch" to his friends, most will respond with a puzzled look. But when he was introduced by Wayne LaPierre at the Celebration of American Values Freedom Experience Event on Saturday night, the crowd responded with thunderous applause.
Dutch was the navigator and is the last surviving crew member of the Enola Gay, the B-29 Superfortress that dropped the atomic bomb known as "Little Boy." Along with Commander Tibbets and the rest of the crew, Van Kirk trained in Utah for seven months before their flight on August 6, 1945.
At the Annual Meeting, Dutch autographed The 509th Remembered, spoke at the American Values Freedom Experience, shared stories from World War II, and provided a touch of insight at the "U.S. Pistol, Model of 1911: Trials & Combat" seminar, which also featured NRA's own Phil Schreier.
When asked about his impression of Van Kirk, National Firearms Museum, Senior Curator Doug Wicklund said:
"I briefly spoke with Dutch at the Nation's Gun Show in Chantilly. There he showed me a photograph taken from a private camera aboard the Enola Gay moments after the bomb was deployed. It was an elegant image from the dawn of the atomic age."
CHUCK NORRIS BOOK SIGNING MAKES THE NEWS
The following comes from the Charlotte Observer:
Chuck Norris jokes abounded Saturday as hundreds of fans stood in line to meet the action star, who was signing books at the National Rifle Association convention in Charlotte.
"Some people wear Superman pajamas, but Superman wears Chuck Norris pajamas."
"Chuck Norris played Russian roulette with a fully loaded gun and won."
"There is no theory of evolution; just a list of animals Chuck Norris allowed to live."
… Chuck Norris facts, satirical one-liners touting Norris' unsurpassed toughness and masculinity, began popping up on the Internet in 2005. Norris eventually embraced the exaggerations and wrote The Official Chuck Norris Fact Book with 101 facts and reflections on each one.
But Norris was on hand Saturday to sign copies of his new book, Black Belt Patriotism, an assessment of American culture and contemporary issues, including terrorism, immigration and national debt, with suggestions on how to improve the nation.
Proceeds from the books sold Saturday will benefit KICKSTART KIDS, a mentor program Norris started. More than 700 books were available Saturday for $30 each, and they were expected to sell out.
Norris, a Republican known for taking politically conservative stances and supporting gun rights, also spoke about gun control Friday at the Time Warner Cable Arena at a NRA convention event.
Many people waiting in line to meet him said they admired Norris for his patriotic and Christian standpoints.
TED NUGENT ROCKS AT THE NRA ANNUAL MEETING IN CHARLOTTE
Ted Nugent's seminar at the NRA Annual Meeting, titled "We The People", was filled with everything the crowd could desire and more. Lines formed early and wrapped around hallways and stairs as everyone gathered for the Motor City Madman's message for the members.
"The spirit of our blood brothers must be spread," Ted cried from the stage. "It all starts with membership. If you're not a member of the NRA then you are not a force to be reckoned with." He called for more. If you're a Member, become a Life Member. If you're a Life Member, become a Endowment Life Member. And if you have a friend, a family member, or a neighbor who isn't a member of the NRA, then it's your job to sign them up.
The event came to a close as Ted grabbed his guitar and played a few tunes for the grateful crowd. They thanked him as they welcomed him – on their feet, with deafening applause.
ANNUAL MEETING'S AIR GUN RANGE YIELDS LOTS OF SMILES
The Pyramid Air Air Gun Range at the NRA's Annual Meetings here in Charlotte, North Carolina, has been busy since the moment it opened on Thursday. Would-be marksmen of all ages stepped up for a shot at the bullseye and a few special prizes.
"We've seen a steady stream of NRA members, and everyone's having a good time," Air Gun Coordinator Jessi McClain told NRAblog. "Everyone here in Charlotte should find time to stop on by."
"This isn't work to me," one volunteer told us. "It's so much fun to be up here, and to meet all these people and encourage them to start or continue shooting in whatever their discipline may be, that I wouldn't be anywhere else."
NATIONAL NRA FOUNDATION BANQUET AND AUCTION
Another Annual Meeting event this past Thursday was the NRA Foundation Banquet and Auction. Sponsored by Leupold, the night was filled "with games, raffles, and live and silent auctions featuring amazing high-quality merchandise and unique firearms."
Hot on the blocks were firearms signed by Wayne LaPierre, a puzzle painted by various employees of the NRA, and a wide assortment of other guns and paraphernalia. All money raised through Friends of NRA events goes directly to the programs of the NRA.
Part of the event Thursday evening was recognition of the top Friends of NRA volunteers from across the nation, as pictured at left. "We have these people to thank for the advancement of our program throughout the nation," Managing Director of NRA's Field Operations Kyle Weaver announced. Each volunteer was presented with a plaque.
The auction included donated hunting trips, firearms, and products from all over the nation. This event happens each year at the very beginning of the Annual Meetings, Thursday evening, and requires a ticket. If you haven't attended this event, look to 2011 for your opportunity! You'll get the chance to meet more than 1,600 of your NRA family members – and the opportunity to bid on some unique items.
GLOCK DONATES MORE THAN $100,000 TO NRA
Just before the Exhibit floor opened here at the NRA Annual Meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina, renowned firearms manufacturer Glock made a huge splash by donating over $100,000 in cash and materials to the National Rifle Association.
Above and below you can see Glock representatives along with NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, General Operations Executive Director Kayne Robinson, President Ron Schmeitts, and Gunny R. Lee Ermy at the presentation ceremony.
BROWNELLS NRA YOUTH AMBASSADORS LAND IN CHARLOTTE
Five of the seven 2010 Brownells Youth Ambassadors are here on the scene at the NRA's 139th Annual Meetings and Exhibits in Charlotte. Thanks to the generosity of Pete Brownell - newly elected NRA Board Member - and Frank, the Ambassadors are attending the entire convention.
The Brownells, are pictured at left with the Ambassadors and Bill Poole, NRA's Director of Education and Training.
"Keep up the good work," Frank Brownell told the youth. The group enjoyed a quiet moment at the Brownells booth on Friday, sharing brown and yellow cupcakes with their sponsors. The Ambassadors presented the Brownells a plaque with a picture of the group at the 2010 SHOT Show, which symbolized the beginning of the Brownells' affiliation with the program.
"These kids are just so appreciative of the chance to be here, among all these NRA members, and all this excitement," Claudia Olsen, who manages the Ambassador Program, told NRAblog.
VETERANS AND VOLUNTEERS
Everyone knows it's the people that make the party. The NRA's Annual Meetings and Exhibits are no different. Below, a sampling of the audience from our time in Charlotte:
"We have more than 100 years of combined U.S. Marine Corps experience in our family," said NRA member George Hitchcock, Sr. pictured at right with George Jr. (center) and his brother (right). "My son just got out. Show them your tattoo."
Sure enough, George Jr. lowered the collar of his shirt to show the Marine Corps emblem right on his neck.
"It's good to be here as a family," George Sr. told us when we asked how the Meeting was going. "My brother came with us, and it's been a real good time so far."
The National Rifle and Pistol Matches at Camp Perry, Ohio, were centerstage in Charlotte as the staff of the NRA's Competitive Shooting Division manned a booth promoting the shooting sports. The national matches are held each summer, and a dedicated group of volunteers are responsible for much of the event's success.
"The response has been great," Marketing Coordinator Woody Arenas told NRAblog. "Friday, Saturday, and Sunday we drew people's names out of a raffle for prizes, which draws a crowd." Sponsors donated prizes, which Arenas and staff handed out to happy NRA members at the conclusion of each day.
NRA CONVENTION A HUGE SUCCESS
The following comes from WBTV.com:
Charlotte leaders say landing the National Rifle Association convention last week was a huge success for the city.
Officials estimate the NRA convention drew close to 80,000 attendees and generated about $20 million during the three-day event which concluded Sunday afternoon.
"We were absolutely full, every inch of the Convention Center used, that's the type of event we would love to have every weekend if we could," said Tim Newman with the Charlotte Regional Visitor's Authority.
PLAN TO ATTEND NRA'S 140th ANNUAL MEETING IN PITTSBURGH, PA IN 2011
Things here in Charlotte are wrapping up, but that doesn't mean NRA staff is taking a break. There's plenty to do as we conclude this meeting and prepare for the next one – specifically, the 140th Annual Meetings and Exhibits in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
There will be more of the same mouth-watering exhibits, top-shelf seminars, and world-class speakers that you'll only find here at the NRA Annual Meeting. Put these dates on your calendar now:
2011 Annual Meetings & Exhibits
Pittsburgh, PA, April 29-May 1