The National Rifle Association holds its annual meeting in Houston this weekend, and it’s expected to be its biggest and most-watched gathering ever — perhaps 80,000 people, more than 400 exhibitors, 600 credentialed media, and perhaps a future presidential candidate or two, reports USA Today. “I don’t think there’s anything this year that’s business as usual. We’re in a very unique point in time as far as the Second Amendment is concerned,” NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said. “It’s a demonstration of their passion, of the commitment and the resolve that the American people have toward their freedom.”
Last year’s meeting — a required campaign stop for GOP candidates — drew 73,740 people in St. Louis. In Houston, the NRA had 70,000 confirmed attendees earlier this week. Requests for media credentials have doubled, to 600. And they’ve booked three times as many hotel rooms as the 2005 meeting, when it was last in Houston. Greg Ortale of the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau said the convention was booked five years in advance. One draw for Houston, he said, was the state’s permissive laws on the carrying of firearms.