Despite its PR headaches in the months following the tragedy in Newtown, one could argue that the National Rifle Association isn’t hurting too much these days. In fact, as the NRA holds its first major gathering since Sandy Hook, the gun advocacy group may have actually benefited from the ongoing gun safety reform debate. NRA members kick off their annual convention in Houston Friday, featuring a who’s who of conservative speakers, both fringe and mainstream. The lineup includes such luminaries as NRA Executive Vice President, Former Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX), Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) and firebrand gun proponent-cum-rock star Ted Nugent. At last year’s NRA confab, Nugent famously said that he would be “dead or in jail” if President Obama was re-elected. But the all-stars of the right won’t be the only voices heard in the gun debate this weekend. Gun control groups are planning to protest the convention and at least one Newtown relative will attend the event. Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s gun control group also plans to air TV ads in the Houston area about background checks. And Houston native and husband of Tuscon shooting victim – Former Rep. Gabby Giffords (R-AZ), Mark Kelly wrote an op-ed in the Houston Chronicle, arguing that the NRA’s leadership doesn’t speak for its members. The convention comes after New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte was again questioned at a town hall meeting Thursday about her vote against expanding background checks. While there is recent evidence that shows Senator Ayotte is losing support in her state, a pair of democrats who voted in favor of the failed Toomey-Manchin proposal are seeing their numbers go in the opposite direction. On Monday, the NRA is expected to launch a new era when it names its new president, Jim Porter. As to the future of the fight over guns, outgoing NRA leader David Keene seems pretty sure that his side will continue winning. We’ll discuss the gun divide and more when we see you at noon ET on msnbc.
Josh Green, Senior National Correspondent, Bloomberg Businessweek (@joshuagreen)
Nia-Malika Henderson, National Political Reporter, The Washington Post (@niawapo)
Sam Stein, Political Editor and White House Correspondent, The Huffington Post/msnbc Contributor (@samsteinhp)
Ben Smith, Editor-in-Chief, BuzzFeed (@buzzfeedben)
Nancy Northup, President, Center for Reproductive Rights (@reprorights)
Michael Crowley, Deputy Washington Bureau Chief, TIME (@crowleytime)