What To Expect During The NRA Convention In Dallas This Weekend
Tens of thousands of people, including the president, vice president and top Texas elected officials, are gathering in Dallas later this week for the National Rifle Association’s 147th annual meeting. And protesters will be active throughout.
The convention, which runs through Sunday at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in downtown, comes at an intense moment in the national gun debate. On Feb. 14, a school shooting left 17 dead in Parkland, Florida, sparking student-led protests across the country and calls for gun reform.
Following the school shooting, Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway called for America’s largest gun lobby to relocate its meeting, saying it would face “marches and demonstrations.” A Dallas resident launched a petition urging the city to revoke the funds it put toward the NRA convention. It has more than 40,000 signatures.
Several demonstrations are planned while the NRA meets in Dallas. About 80,000 gun advocates are expected to attend the convention.
The convention will feature product demonstrations, seminars on gun ownership -- and live country music each night. The formal meeting of NRA members takes place Saturday morning. But the high-profile event comes Friday, when President Donald Trump is set to speak during the Leadership Forum. Vice President Mike Pence, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz are all scheduled to speak.
Trump addressed the forum last year when it was held in Atlanta and the previous year in Louisville, Kentucky. The NRA spent more than $30 million on Trump's 2016 campaign, according to NPR.
The president’s due back in Dallas on May 14, when he's set to headline a fundraiser for his re-election campaign and the Republican National Committee.Here’s what to expect each day of the convention. Here’s the full schedule.
Thursday, May 3
- Convention: Thursday is the first day of the convention. Not much is scheduled beyond registration until the National NRA Foundation banquet in the evening.
- Meanwhile, at the White House, President Trump will be joined by members of the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs in a prayer service. A gunman killed 26 people at the South Texas church last November.
Friday, May 4
- Convention: The exhibit hall, hosting 800 firearm companies and related vendors, opens Friday. The general convention this day includes workshops, seminars and product demonstrations.
- Convention: The NRA-Institute for Legislative Action Leadership Forum takes place from noon to 3 p.m. President Trump, Vice President Pence, Gov. Greg Abbott, Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz as well as NRA leaders will speak at the event. The Secret Service will be in attendance, and weapons of any kind are prohibited when Trump and Pence speak.
- Outside: The Next Generation Action Network and its partnering organizations plan to hold a protest and march against the gun lobby starting at Dallas City Hall from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
- Outside: A “die-in” protest is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the convention center. Organizers say they encourage tombstone-themed protest signs and will be printing pictures of victims of gun violence to display at the demonstration.
Saturday, May 5
- Convention: Seminars on preventing crime, reloading guns, interacting with law enforcement and other related topics continue Saturday. Several workshops, product demonstrations and book signings are scheduled, too. The exhibit hall will be open all day. The NRA member meeting takes place from 10 a.m. to noon.
- Outside: At 10 a.m., the same time as the member meeting, "Rally 4 Reform," a student-led rally organized by StudentsMarch.org, is scheduled to take place outside Dallas City Hall. Student organizers will be joined by representatives from Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and Everytown for Gun Safety. Manuel Oliver is expected to attend the rally as a guest speaker. He’s a parent of one of the students killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in February.
- Outside: At noon, the community organizing group In Solidarity plans to hold an event called “Dallas United Against Gun Violence” outside Dallas City Hall. Organizers say protesters will come together “to show that we vehemently oppose the NRA’s careless disregard for the atmosphere of violence and bloodshed that they’ve helped create and foster.” Several groups will participate.
- Outside: A counter-protest organized by Open Carry Texas is scheduled to take place at noon outside Dallas City Hall.
- Outside: Also at noon, the "NoRA" protest is scheduled at Belo Garden Park in downtown Dallas. Speakers include actress Alyssa Milano and Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter was killed in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
- Outside: At 2 p.m., Texas advocates and gun violence survivors from around the country are expected to attend “Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America Grassroots Day of Action” at Oak Lawn Methodist Church in Dallas. The goal: train new activists and survivors -- and to train students to become organizers.
Sunday, May, 6
- Convention: The final day of the convention begins at 7 a.m. with the National Prayer Breakfast at the Omni Dallas Hotel. Later in the morning, a breakfast for women only will be held.
- Convention: Sunday’s also NRA Youth Day, where kids of all ages are invited to learn how to prevent firearm accidents, shoot airguns and participate in other activities, like roping demonstrations.
- Convention: The schedule of seminars, product demonstrations and workshops wraps up at 4 p.m. The exhibit hall closes at 5 p.m.