Inside the 2016 NRA convention

  • Members of the National Rifle Association walk about the floor of the NRA convention in Louisville, Ky., May 21, 2016. 
  • Members of the National Rifle Association walk about the floor of the NRA convention in Louisville, Ky., May 21, 2016. 
  • Attendees of the NRA convention break for food in Louisville, Ky., May 21, 2016. 
  • Young cowboys view guns on display at the NRA convention, May 21, 2016, Louisville, Ky. 
  • Members of the National Rifle Association handle guns on display at the NRA convention, May 21, 2016, Louisville, Ky. 
  • A display of gun holsters sits against a backdrop of the Statue of Liberty on the floor of the NRA convention in Louisville, Ky., May 21, 2016. 
  • An attendee at the NRA convention, May 21, 2016, Louisville, Ky. 
  • Members of the National Rifle Association handle guns on display at the NRA convention, May 21, 2016, Louisville, Ky. 
  • Members of the National Rifle Association handle guns on display at the NRA convention, May 21, 2016, Louisville, Ky. 
  • Members of the National Rifle Association at the NRA convention, May 21, 2016, Louisville, Ky. 
  • Guns on display on the floor of the annual NRA convention, Louisville, Ky., May 21, 2016. 
  • Members of the National Rifle Association at the NRA convention, May 21, 2016, Louisville, Ky. 
  • Members of the National Rifle Association at the NRA convention, May 21, 2016, Louisville, Ky. 
  • Attendees at the NRA convention play a video game intended to train people to shoot, in Louisville, Ky., May 21, 2016.
  • Members of the National Rifle Association handle guns on display at the NRA convention, May 21, 2016, Louisville, Ky. 
  • Young boys handle display guns at the NRA convention, May 21, 2016, Louisville, Ky. 
  • Uncle Si Robertson, of Duck Dynasty fame, signs an autograph for a young girl at the NRA convention, May 21, 2016, Louisville, Ky. 
  • Members of the National Rifle Association handle guns on display at the NRA convention, May 21, 2016, Louisville, Ky. 
  • Members of the National Rifle Association handle guns on display at the NRA convention, May 21, 2016, Louisville, Ky. 
  • Members of the National Rifle Association handle guns on display at the NRA convention, May 21, 2016, Louisville, Ky. 
  • Members of the National Rifle Association handle guns on display at the NRA convention, May 21, 2016, Louisville, Ky. 
  • Members of the National Rifle Association attend the annual NRA convention, May 21, 2016, Louisville, Ky. 
  • A young boy handles a gun on the floor of the NRA convention, May 21, 2016, Louisville, Ky. 
  • A stack of business cards is accompanied by American flags and juxtaposed with lollipops, on display on the floor of the NRA convention, May 21, 2016, Louisville, Ky. 
  • NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre speaks to members at the annual convention, Louisville, Ky., May 21, 2016. 
  • Members of the National Rifle Association attend the annual NRA convention, May 21, 2016, Louisville, Ky. 
  • Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke, Jr., meets with NRA members at the annual convention, in Louisville, Ky., May 21, 2016. 
  • Members of the National Rifle Association attend the annual NRA convention, May 21, 2016, Louisville, Ky. 
  • Guns and ammo on display at the NRA convention, May 21, 2016, Louisville, Ky. 
  • NRA members view guns and ammo on the floor of the convention held in Louisville, Ky., May 21, 2016. 
  • Guns and ammo on display at the NRA convention, May 21, 2016, Louisville, Ky. 
  • NRA members view guns and ammo on the floor of the convention held in Louisville, Ky., May 21, 2016. 
  • NRA caps are stacked for sale in association’s store at the convention, May 21, 2016. 
  • U.S. Navy Sea Cadets at the entrance of the NRA convention, May 21, 2016, Louisville, Ky. 
  • Members of the National Rifle Association vote on the new NRA agenda, May 21, 2016, Louisville, Ky. 
  • NRA CEO Chris Cox and Milwaukee Sheriff David A. Clarke, Jr., at the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum, May 20, 2016. 
  • Congressman Paul Ryan is reflected on glass panel while addressing the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum via video tape, May 20, 2016. 
  • Attendees at the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum, May 20, 2016, Louisville, Ky. 
  • Congressman Trey Gowdy at the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum, May 20, 2016. 
  • Attendees, and Trump supporters, at the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum, May 20, 2016, Louisville, Ky. 
  • Members of the press working at the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum.
  • Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions onstage for the NRA, May 20, 2016. 
  • Attendees at the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum, May 20, 2016, Louisville, Ky. 
  • Senator and former Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul speaks at the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum, May 20, 2016 in Louisville, Ky. 
  • One eye of each George Washington (L) and Abraham Lincoln (R) peek out from behind a cowboy hat’s shadow, in a projection of Mount Rushmore over the stage at the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum.
  • Donald Trump speaks at the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum, May 20, 2016. 
  • National Rifle Association members at the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum in Louisville, Ky., May 20, 2016. 
  • Donald Trump arrives onstage at the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum, Louisville, Ky., May 20, 2016. 
  • The head of the NRA, Wayne LaPierre, speaks at the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum, May 20, 2016.
  • A National Rifle Association member at the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum in Louisville, Ky., May 20, 2016. 
  • An NRA member wears a gun print hoodie at the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum in Louisville, Ky. 
  • Chris Cox is seen projected across several screens for a massive audience at the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum, May 20, 2016, Louisville, Ky. 
  • Chris Cox, CEO of the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum, takes the stage in Louisville, Ky. 
  • Presentations begin at the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum, May 20, 2016, Louisville, Ky.
  • The pledge of allegiance opens the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum, May 20, 2016.
  • A member of the National Rifle Association waits for speakers to begin at the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum, May 20, 2016, Louisville, Ky. 
  • The so-called Freedom Hall is quiet prior to the start of the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum, May 20, 2016, Louisville, Ky. 
  • A secret service agent guards the press area prior to the start of the NRA Convention, May 20, 2016, Louisville, Ky. 

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This May, Louisville, Kentucky played host to the National Rifle Association convention — an annual meeting of pistols and politics that this year boasted a 500,000 square foot firearms display. The convention, conceived by the Union officers who founded the NRA after the Civil War, is in its 145th year. 

On its opening night, NRA leaders endorsed Donald Trump for president just before the presumptive Republican nominee took the stage and declared, “crooked Hillary Clinton is the most anti-gun, anti-Second Amendment candidate ever to run for office.”

NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre also chimed in on the Democratic front-runner, saying that “if she could, Hillary would ban every gun, destroy every magazine, run an entire national security industry right into the ground and put gun-owners’ names on a government registration list.”

“Hillary Clinton,” warned NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris Cox, “has a legitimate chance to be the next president as long as people like us stay home.”

In response, Clinton, who has advocated for change in American gun policy but has never suggested, despite Trump’s claims, abolishing the Second Amendment, tweeted that the country should not accept 33,000 gun deaths in a year as “normal,” adding that “we can uphold Second Amendment rights while preventing senseless gun violence.”

Meanwhile, hundreds of NRA members, toddlers in tow and guns in hand, shopped the grounds of the convention showroom, where patriotic emblems abound and defense of the “Constitutional right to bear arms,” is key.

Redux photographer Mark Peterson traveled to Louisville for MSNBC to shoot “freedom’s largest celebration” from the inside. 

These photographs were shot on assignment by photographer Mark Peterson for MSNBC Photography as part of his on-going body of work “Political Theater,” which examines the landscape of the American political system.

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