Vendors noisily scrambling to get their booths ready for the show fill the sprawling main hall of the George R Brown Convention Center . They are bracing for as many as a hundred thousand members. President David Keene says it's a chance for members to see new products, attend seminars and send a message.
"That's going to be a signal across the country that the narrative that the NRA and gun owners don't matter anymore is not true."
The theme of this year's convention is "Stand and Fight" and Keen says the NRA is going to do just that. It's been a tough year for the organization.. The Colorado theater shooting and the Sandy Hook massacre created a massive surge of support for tougher gun control laws... yet nationally all attempts to tighten gun control laws have stalled... and support for many of the proposals has faded.
"We've been relatively successful so far.. this is an ongoing war over the second amendment and what it means.. but we're pleased with the fact that as time has gone on and people have looked at what's being proposed and more are going with us every day."
But support for universal background checks remains high.. and at one time the NRA supported them, but not anymore. Keene admits on the surface it sounds perfectly reasonable, but the devil is in the details. The system doesn't work as it is.
"We have a proposal from people who don't like second amendment rights.. who want 100 million checks into a system that can't handle what it supposed to handle today. We think that's a mistake."
He says the BATFE could close the gun show loophole by putting a background check booth at shows.. but doesn't. The annual convention is bringing tens of thousands of NRA members into Houston, it's also attracting protesters like Aaron Black from Occupy the NRA. He and other protesters plan to hold signs and banners.. and read the names of the roughly three thousand people who've been shot since Sandy Hook.
"The NRA represents the manufacturers.. not their ownership and it's a deadly profit over people agenda.. it's irresponsible and they should pay attention to what the country wants."