NRA Carry Guard Expo in Milwaukee

The NRA is holding its inaugural Carry Guard Expo in Milwaukee. A couple of things make this interesting.

The show that runs through Sunday was jammed with seminars, workshops and plenty of gear.

There were displays of handguns, rifles and shotguns and firearm accessories like holsters, bags and clothing all aimed at a growing market for those interested in concealed carry weapons and self-defense.

The first thing that’s interesting is that there were the inevitable protesters.

Not everyone was delighted to see the NRA in Milwaukee.

“The NRA has been ratcheting up their rhetoric lately,” said Anneliese Dickman of the Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort, which was leading a local protest.

“We’re protesting that they have a vision of America that encourages people to treat their fellow Americans as enemies and that they’re arming those people,” she said.

The anti-gun folks are constantly telling us that they don’t want to ban guns. No, they just want people to be “responsible” gun owners, so they say. This is an entire event centered around responsible gun ownership, and yet the anti-gun folks are still protesting. NRA Carry Guard is insurance for people who carry guns. It is actually an initiative of anti-gun folks to mandate that people have such insurance, and yet they are protesting. (Ironically, such a mandate would be a boon for the NRA if people are mandated to buy their product.) The rest of the expo is about safety training, gun safes, locks, safe ways to carry, etc. In short, this is an event for “responsible” gun owners, and yet the protesters are still there. They belie their real purpose.

The second thing that is interesting is that this expo is symptomatic of the NRA’s transition from strictly an advocacy organization to a business.

As I said, NRA Carry Guard is an insurance product for people who carry guns. The NRA has just entered this market. West Bend’s own Delta Defense has been selling similar insurance for years and has been booming. They just built a fabulous new headquarters and have been hiring people left and right. They also just won an award for being one of the best places to work in Wisconsin.

So do you think it is a coincidence that the NRA chose to hold its very first Carry Guard Expo in the backyard of Delta Defense? I think not. Also remember that the NRA unceremoniously disinvited Delta Defense to their convention earlier this year. The NRA is not behaving as an advocacy group that is willing to amplify its message by convening with like-minded groups. They are behaving like a business trying to take out their competitor.

This comment reveals the risk of the NRA moving into a business:

Asked if the NRA would push to mandate insurance for concealed-carry permit holders, Powell said: “We absolutely are not interested whatsoever in having any mandates around this at all. Period.”

So they say now. But the NRA now has a financial interest in just such a mandate. And with their lobbying power, what are the chances that they would make sure the mandates require just the kind of coverage offered by Carry Guard?

I’m all for the NRA and think that they have done marvelous things for the spread of liberty in our nation. But I am wary about scenarios where their financial interests run contrary to that liberty.