Gathered on the fringe

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Despite the new leftist meme making the rounds on social media which claims “the NRA is a fringe organization with declining membership,” about 81,000 or so “deplorables” descended on Indianapolis April 26–28 for the organization’s annual meeting.

Just for the record, this so-called fringe group is pushing the six-million-member mark and doing just fine.

Among all the other interesting stories from Indy, perhaps most noteworthy was the fact attendance exceeded expectations. The NRA says about 81,000 people attended the three-day event, most of whom “were standing in every aisle I tried to walk down,” quipped FMG Editorial Director Mike Humphries at one point.

The crowds were quite maddening if you were trying to get anywhere, which is a wonderful state of affairs for our country’s largest Second Amendment civil rights organization. By all accounts, the 15+ acres of guns and freedom displayed in the Indiana Convention Center was a resounding success.

Oh, and the threatened protests? While there were undoubtedly a few misguided souls holding signs and chanting somewhere in downtown Indianapolis, the threatened “hundreds and hundreds” of anti-gun protesters were nowhere to be seen. For this and many other reasons, I’m proud of my home state for serving as a gracious host to this celebration of “Free America.”

Wayne LaPierre

“The” controversy

The NRA Annual Meeting was also ground zero for some major controversy as President Oliver North withdrew from the ballot and literally left town in a figurative knife fight with NRA Executive Director Wayne LaPierre. As someone who has been given “insider” information from several different factions involved in the brouhaha, I will demur from sharing any insider dirt nor take a side because the situation is terribly complicated and as one knowledgeable tipster said, “There are plenty of bad guys to go around.”

However, we will raise an important point: The anti-gun groups and politicians in our country are having a field day with the situation. We’re not sure how the whole ugliness, involving lawsuits between the NRA and its long-time publicist

Ackerman McQueen (“Ack Mac”) plus multiple financial investigations by the State of New York, will eventually play out. However, we urge both sides of the controversy to attempt to settle their differences in such a way the NRA won’t be destroyed and without giving the “antis” any further talking points.

The NRA certainly isn’t perfect but when it comes to one organization fighting on a local, state and federal level for gun owner’s constitutional rights, the NRA has no peer. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater!

NRA Museum Rocks!

We recently got an exclusive guided tour of the NRA’s National Sporting Arms Museum from curator Joe Wood and a shop towel was needed to contain all the excessive salivation from this wholly overenthusiastic reporter.

Located inside the giant Bass Pro Shops mothership in Springfield, Missouri, the NRA Museum is one of three official NRA museums, the others located at NRA HQ in Fairfax, Virginia and The Whittington Center in New Mexico.

The genesis of the Missouri museum was the interest of Bass Pro founder Johnny Morris. As the story goes, after touring the NRA museum in Virginia, Mr. Morris was inspired to bring a similar collection to his giant outdoor shopping playground. Morris provided space free-of-charge to the NRA and they brought out hundreds of unique firearms from their collection.

Inside the museum, located above the gun and hunting accessories department of the mega store, you will find everything from the rubber gun props used in several famous war movies to one-of-kind prototypes, along with the guns of several famous lawmen and at least a couple of infamous bad guys. You can even view President Teddy Roosevelt’s bedside pistol.

The museum is free of charge and open to the public every day of the year except Christmas from 10 am to 7 pm. Located 10 minutes off Interstate 44, it is an absolutely must-see if you pass through the area — or even if you aren’t! Between the Museum, the incredible Bass Pro Shops superstore and its attached (and also world-class) World of Wildlife Museum, plan on spending an entire day at the complex.

Not Your Daddy’s Stuffed Fish

While in Springfield, we stumbled on the World Taxidermy and Fishing Carving Championships. This little-known event features an international sampling of the most stunning examples of the taxidermists’ art.

Any avid hunter or angler has witnessed hundreds of examples of decent and not-so-decent taxidermy. However, oddly smirking deer, pop-eyed perch, scary-looking ducks and moth-eaten bearskin rugs inhabit the opposite end of the universe from the incredible animal creations we saw in the Springfield Convention Center.

Most immediately apparent was the amazingly life-like appearance of the animals. Gone are the glassy-eyed stares of typical mounts, replaced by eyes and mouths that appear moist and unbelievably detailed. Moreover, the presentations themselves aren’t simple plaques or slabs of wood but entire dioramas ranging from a baby skunk lounging in a realistic silk flower, to mergansers standing on faux ice and a river otter swimming among bronze swirls representing flowing river currents. Even those who hate taxidermy, such as one incredible, wonderful and beautiful wife of our intimate acquaintance, had to agree the animals on display were truly artistry instead of mere stuffed bags of skin.

Wrangle Me One

Among all the new products announced at the recent NRA show, the hottest must certainly be the new Ruger Wrangler .22 revolver. How do I know? The answer is simple: When five writers simultaneously contact the editor and ask to review the gun. Unfortunately, this situation is much like telling five of your children there is only one piece of candy left in the bag!

If you haven’t seen it yet, the Wrangler is essentially a .22 version of the classic Ruger Single-Six. Most noteworthy is the gun brings Ruger quality into the single-action .22 revolver market for a list price of $249 dollars. Now you can have a high-quality rootin’ tootin’ cowboy gun for around $200 bucks “street price.”

Available in black, bronze or silver Cerakote, this gun is loads of fun and perhaps currently the hottest ticket in town.

In fact, since the writers are all fighting among themselves for the right to review the new piece, I’ll just be forced to take our test gun away from them and keep it at my house.

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