Were Guns Banned at the NRA Convention?

Donald Trump’s appearance at the 2022 National Rifle Association (NRA) “leadership forum” was the latest iteration of a recurring show of the limits of “freedom” for the event’s attendees.

Guns were not allowed inside the “general assembly hall” for the former United States president’s speech, per an order from the U.S. Secret Service restricting “weapons of any kind” that included firearms. Other items banned from the venue included umbrellas, backpacks, and selfie sticks:

The discrepancy between this policy and right-wing rhetoric attacking any suggestion of legislation controlling gun sales was not lost on readers. But in reporting the stance some outlets described the policy too broadly:

While guns were banned from Trump’s speech in particular, the NRA’s convention website said that “personal firearms may be carried in the George R. Brown Convention Center (GRBCC) in accordance with Texas law. When carrying your firearm, always adhere to all federal, state, and local laws.”

Following the passage of HB 1927, which went into effect in September 2021, Texans over the age of 21 are allowed to carry a handgun in public without training unless they have been convicted of domestic violence or felony offenses. As the Texas Tribune reported:

[The bill] was part of a slew of pro-gun legislation that lawmakers passed this year. Other measures passed include a bill that would bar government contracts with those who discriminate against the firearm industry as a whole, one that would remove firearm suppressors from the state’s list of prohibited weapons, and a House bill that prohibits state and local governments from enforcing new federal gun regulations.

The limits on “freedom” for gun enthusiasts for Trump’s speech was not unique; as NPR reported, the Secret Service enacted a similar policy in 2018, when both Trump and then-Vice President Mike Pence appeared at the event. That prompted criticism from Matt Deitsch, a survivor of the mass shooting attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

“Wait wait wait wait wait wait you’re telling me to make the VP safe there aren’t any weapons around but when it comes to children they want guns everywhere?” Deitsch wrote on Twitter. “Can someone explain this to me? Because it sounds like the NRA wants to protect people who help them sell guns, not kids.”

The NRA’s 2015 convention, held in Nashville, also implemented a partial ban on firearms. As the local newspaper, the Tennessean, reported at the time that while “lawfully carried firearms” were allowed at the expo venue, the Music City Center, they would be barred from a concert held in conjunction with the event at the Bridgestone Arena. Restrictions were also in place for both gun sellers and purchasers at the event:

All guns on display on the exhibit floor will be nonoperational, with the firing pins removed, and any guns purchased during the NRA convention will have to be picked up at a Federal Firearms License dealer, near where the purchaser lives, and will require a legal identification.

Trump spoke at the NRA’s 2022 event in Houston less than a week after a mass shooting attack in Uvalde, Texas, that killed 19 children and two adults at an elementary school, which has renewed calls for tighter gun safety legislation.

Update 6/1/2022, 10:40 p.m. PST: This article has been revamped and updated. You can review the original here. — ag