National Rifle in Nashville, TN

The NRA national convention is wrapping up this weekend in Nashville, TN. I was fortunate enough to get to attend some of the festivities and events. While there, I saw people, places, and things that ran from the sublime to the ridiculous.

It has been estimated that the population in Nashville increased somewhere between 70,000-80,000 during the convention. However, the news at the airport was not so good. An acquaintance who works there was able to crunch the numbers coming in on various flights and informed me that around 11,000 of these folks flew into town. My first thought was that 60,000 of those folks must live within driving distance of Nashville, but that’s not the case. In reality, 60,000 people simply did not want to check their firearms or leave home without them – so they drove.

The website indicated that event coordinators had worked with several local restaurant owners and informed them that many attendees would be carrying their weapons this weekend. These planners even posted a list that showed which restaurants were allowing patrons to carry and those that did not. It showed! Even with 70,000 people within an 8 block radius, the restaurants who posted that no firearms were allowed were nearly empty, even though they did put up signs to welcome NRA attendees. Other eateries that permitted firearms are celebrating all the way to the bank. Even the restaurant where friends and I ate at 10 blocks from the venue was packed.

As I was walking toward the newly constructed Music City Center, I saw two men with lots of black hair walking toward me. They were wearing yellow sunglasses and sporting pink t-shirts that read “Bang This.” I learned that they were advertising for a local dueling piano bar and were often hired when major events were taking place to simply walk around town with their billboard t-shirts. It’s just that something about two men with lots of black hair, yellow sunglasses and pink t-shirts with a bold statement is just funny. I continued walking, but chuckled for the next block.

Once inside the Music City Center, I noticed the beauty in the décor and even the construction. I was informed by a local that the building had been constructed to resemble the inside of a guitar. I’ve never been inside a guitar, so I had nothing in which to compare it, but I’m fairly certain that even with the wood paneling it didn’t look anything like the inside of a guitar. I found it interesting that the roof of the building was covered with dirt and grass. This is supposed to help with the heating and cooling. Somehow though, I think that the huge glass windows probably take away from that benefit.

I was headed to the top floor on the escalators when I saw her. She was silver. She was silver from head to toe. She was wearing a pair of capri leggings and a jog bra, but even they had been painted silver. I really wanted to get a picture of her, but either the rules of propriety or my total shock at seeing a silver person prevented this. I have no earthly idea why this woman was silver. I’m fairly certain that I didn’t miss some show involving silver people. She was relatively young, very pretty and slender, but she was silver. If anyone of you knows why, please comment. Enquiring minds really do want to know why a person would spray paint oneself silver.

The Leadership Forum was held in the humongous hall on the top floor. It is larger than a football field and I estimate that there were more than 8000 people in the room. Nearly every major pro-gun, pro-2nd Amendment speaker you can imagine was there. I’ve learned that Sarah Palin cancelled because of the Grover Norquist debacle (she is right to do so since he is pro-radical Islam yet serves on the national board of directors for the NRA), but there were 13 other speakers. The most surprising for me was Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. They both spoke early in the program and both did incredibly well. I was very impressed with what they said and even how they said it.

Unfortunately, I was somewhat disappointed with the speeches of former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, former FL Governor Jeb Bush, and retired pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson. Santorum (who I really like and admire) simply spent too much time on personal issues and didn’t present himself as a presidential candidate (which I would love to see). Carson appeared to be on an apology tour of some type as he made it clear he is pro-2nd Amendment. He really needs to work more on his word choice, though. Later in his speech he said, “I have a feeling that there is a higher power.” First, I rarely care how any potential candidate ‘feels’ about anything, but I’m even more concerned that he only ‘feels’ that there is a higher power. That’s one point that you need to be pretty clear with in the long run.

Then we heard the Jeb Bush book report. I’m not making that up, but I borrowed it from another attendee. His speech was simply one piece of information after another. He read from his script and it basically sounded like a book report. In his best fourth grader voice, my companion said, “I read The Constitution. It was good,” when Bush was finished. I nearly fell out of my chair laughing.

Seriously, though, I was somewhat disappointed with the speech from Senator Ted Cruz of TX. While he is certainly a formidable presidential candidate (although there is still some question as to the validity of his ‘natural born citizen’ status), he still has some things to learn about public speaking. It became clear that, especially toward the end, he had some lines in which he expected the crowd to applaud. So he delivered the line and paused to wait for this. More than once, the applause didn’t come until after a rather embarrassing pause. That’s okay. I’m not worried about Cruz. He’s already come such a long way he’ll get a lock on this part, too.

Reporting live from Nashville, good night America.

~Temerity Dowell

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