Anger toward Obama, Congress helps NRA members mobilize
The National Rifle Association yesterday wrapped up its annual meeting in Charlotte.. On the floor of the exhibit hall, the focus was bullets, guns and the latest hunting gear. Elsewhere at the convention, politics was the talk. The Tea Party Movement is getting credit for shaking up mid-term elections, but members of the NRA hope to tap public anger in support of the right to bear arms. WFAE's Julie Rose reports: It's a very good time to be in Mike Egan's line of work. "Our business has been up double digits every single month," says Egan. He's a salesman for a big bullet and ammunition manufacturer called Hornady. Egan might want to think about sending a thank you note to the White House, because the people roaming the halls of the NRA convention say President Obama is driving demand for guns. "He's been a very good gun salesman," says convention attendee Budd Schroeder. "People have been going out and buying guns and ammunition - people who've never even owned one before - because they figure under his administration there's going to be the confiscation problem or problem buying guns." In the months following the 2008 election, the number of people getting background checks in order to buy a gun hit an all time high. It's especially difficult to find .380 hangun ammunition. And yet the gun bans and ammunition taxes have not materialized. The Supreme Court even overturned a handgun ban in the District of Columbia a few months after Mr. Obama took office. All the while, the president has continued to say he is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment. But many NRA members don't believe him. "I tell firearms owners and Second Amendment supporters to stay ready," says Wayne LaPierre, NRA Executive Vice President. LaPierre says the Obama Administration is stacked full of people who have "spent a life time attacking the Second Amendment." "I believe there are storm clouds on the horizon and stay ready's the word," says LaPierre. In a hotel ballroom away from the bustle of the gun and gear exhibits, about a hundred NRA members gather for a workshop on political organizing. A lot of people at the workshop say this is their first foray into political activism. John Nahas says he's never done more than vote. Then the health care overhaul bill passed and, though it had nothing to do with gun rights, he saw it as proof that Congress was willing to trample on his individual rights. "I was even more enraged by the way it was done and knowing that the will of the people was not - as far as I was concerned - was not taken into consideration," says Nahas. He says he's also inspired by the Tea Party Movement, which strikes a chord with many NRA members because of its emphasis on personal freedoms and protecting the Constitution. Gun owner Eric Schroeder says it doesn't matter that Congress and the Obama Administration haven't directly attacked the Second Amendment recently. Their handling of health care and the economy is enough. "What they've done is they've opened up a big can of worms," says Schroeder. "And there's no way they can close it . . . people are getting active to say we'd like to see this stop." The National Rifle Association does have a powerful voice. It has more than 4 million members it hopes to mobilize in November.