Inside the 2016 NRA convention
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.