Paul Helmke and Kathy Patterson will be among lonely voices when 70,000 members of the National Rifle Association gather at the Charlotte Convention Center this week, reports the city’s Observer. Helmke is president of the Washington-based Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. Patterson is a mother of two who helped organize a group to limit gun use in her neighborhood outside Charlotte. Each will play a role in events aimed at offering another side to gun issues in North Carolina and across the country.
The NRA gathering, Charlotte’s largest convention ever, begins today. Helmke will debate Alan Gura, the lawyer who in 2008 won a landmark gun rights case in the U.S. Supreme Court and is lead counsel in another case challenging local gun-control laws. The Brady Center released a poll Wednesday showing that a narrow majority of Americans – and a larger majority of women – oppose people carrying loaded guns openly in public, a policy supported by the NRA. Helmke called the NRA leadership “increasingly out of touch.” On Saturday morning, Kathy Patterson will join a forum on preventing gun violence at St. Peter Catholic Church, across the street from the convention. “I don’t think any of us are anti-gun,” said Patterson, 47. “But there’s a safe way and a safe time and place to use guns.”