How far we've come.
Amidst all the wailing and gnashing of teeth that we weren't able to carry during one, three hour session of the convention and the claims of journalists that we feel "under fire" I would like to relate these personal vignettes. During one forum, I was just a few feet away from one of the most prominent speakers in the US, Lt. Col. Oliver North. There were several security people nearby as well as a KY State Police Officer right behind me. While I was taking some of my shots, my carry piece was clearly visible.
And no one batted an eye.
I walked into the BassPro shop and there was a sign stating that fishing gear and firearms needed to be checked. I asked the person at the customer service desk if I needed to. He stated if I had a permit to just go ahead.
And no one batted an eye.
Think about that. Think about how much public perception has changed in the last 15 years. That we can go almost anywhere in the US while being able to protect ourselves and our families. Coming from a state where we are prevented from doing this anywhere and several jurisdictions actually openly violate federal law in regards to it, I find this amazing. I'm still trying to get my head completely around it. The convention was my CCW debut and now, coming home to the People's Soviet of Illinois, it has made me more driven to get CCW in this state. 15 years ago this wasn't even an option.
I don't assign 100% of the credit for these changes to the NRA. There are other great groups out there but be realistic. If our '800 pound gorilla' didn't exist at all or was the size of the majority of the other organizations, very little, if any, of this would be possible. I don't agree w/ the NRA on several issues, and I discussed this w/ quite a few of the reps., but they are getting things done. That's why I give them the majority (but not exclusively) my support.
This, in part, is why the NRA has come to the eminently wise decision IMO :) to work w/ pro-gun bloggers and vice-versa. We're the 'boots-on-the-ground' (or the fingers on the keyboards in this case) so we have a closer view of public perception than the leadership of a 3-4 million member organization can realistically get. It gets US more direct access to the upper-ups w/o having to go through 20 layers of functionaries to get to someone who can do anything about it. We all know things get filtered going up and down. With the horrible track record the NRA has w/ the traditional media, this gets them a venue into an ever increasing information distribution source, Even my small blog gets over 100 people visiting it every day, while we get access to more information than what is commonly available. We also have a faster reaction time than our said behemoth so we can find and respond to media/legislative hit pieces near instantly. Gotta love Al Gore's interweb.
What I like most about this, and still find surprising, is that they are working w/ us as independents. Unlike the GunGuys, I am not receiving wheel-barrows full of cash nor do I base or change my posts based on instructions from my masters. They know there's going to be criticism but feel that working w/ us will benefit more in the long run than not having us as a resource at all.
That said, I'm now going to start the obligatory thanks and kudoes.
First off is Bitter. You and I have butted heads a few times but I couldn't have organized this nearly as well as you did. My hat's off to you. You did a great job.
The NRA staff, Glen Caroline, Ashley Varner, Justin McDaniel, Danielle Sturgis, Daniel Felbusch, and all the other staff and volunteers who worked with us.
The Bloggers who I met:
A Keyboard and a 45
Captain of a Crew of One (my roomie for the weekend)
damnum absque injuria
Sharp as a Marble
The Smallest Minority
Snowflakes in Hell
The View from North-Central Idaho
Call me Ahab
The Professor and MaryAnn
Wait wrong show. All the other bloggers and commentors that I met over the weekend.
Getting to meet Dave Hardy, David Young, Cam Edwards, Sandy Froman to name a few, dozens of gun nuts from around the country, acres of guns and gear. The only thing I'm sorry about is that I kept missing Tom King and Scott Bach.
I had a blast.