The National Rifle Association capped its annual convention Sunday by hosting a “Youth Day” — enticing youngsters to attend by offering free six-month memberships.
Billed by the NRA as a family-fun outing, the event drew hundreds of kids. Some of the attendees were the age of the Newtown massacre victims, others too young to know the difference between a toy gun and a real one.
“Spend the day exploring 400,000 square feet of exhibit hall containing over 550 exhibitors from across the country. Share the excitement with spectacular displays and fun-filled events for the entire family,” the NRA wrote on its website.
The event was staged a day after the NRA welcomed its youngest lifetime member, 3-year-old Elaih Wagan, whose grandfather purchased the membership.
Activities inside Houston’s George R. Brown Convention Center prompted outrage outside.
“They shouldn’t be teaching kids how to use guns. What happens when they get older? They might become like that Connecticut killer,” said Cal Castille, 24, of Houston, referring to Newtown gunman Adam Lanza.
Anti-gun protesters, reading names of gun-violence victims across the street from the convention center, said the NRA event was akin to “brainwashing these kids to love guns.”
This is indoctrination,” said Jose Sequeiros, 67, of Houston. “These kids are too young to see that guns are wrong.”
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Heather Ross, 27, said organizers of the event were tone deaf, given the horrific mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December.
“It agitates me that these people don’t think it could happen to their children,” said Ross of Austin. “This is just beyond words.”
In the convention center, pint-sized gun enthusiasts, some taught about the Second Amendment before they learned to read, perused the latest makes and models of firearms.
“I like guns because guns are fun,” said 9-year-old Kaykay Mace, who attended the NRA Youth Day with her dad, Scott, and big sister, Calla, 11.
Scott Mace, 37, called the event “a fun thing to do.”
David Handschuh/New York Daily News
Attendees browse weapons at the at the NRA Conference.
Calla Mace said she enjoys going to gun ranges and bragged, “I’m a pretty good shot.”
“I’ve shot a .22 rifle before and a handgun,” Calla said.
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