Over the weekend, photojournalist Joseph Rushmore spent time at the National Rifle Association’s annual convention, documenting the people and events while on assignment for HuffPost. This year’s gathering was in Indianapolis, where Rushmore captured the sights and interviewed some gun owners about why they attended the convention and their thoughts on the Second Amendment.
See photos from inside this year’s NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits below:
Left: The view through a Sensight digital scope mounted on a deactivated rifle on the exhibit hall floor.
Right: A man puts on a virtual reality headset at one of several booths that allowed users to enter VR shooting situations.
Left: Lorie and Doug Cutts stand for a photo with their daughter, Emily, 15, who is a competitive shooter. When asked why they support the NRA, Emily said, “With the way gun laws are right now, we need to do anything [we] can do to help the shooting sports stay alive.” Her father added, “Every industry has their lobby group, every industry does, pick one, Big Pharma, they’re all lobbying. NRA is kind of our voice, besides our own, the NRA is who represents us. That’s how we look at it, so if we don’t support them, who else is going to?”
Right: From left, Kim, Ernie and Anastasia McCool stand with Crayton Mouser, Laura McCool and their children in strollers, Hunter and Ryleigh (not facing camera) Mouser. Kim McCool said of the NRA, “I think it’s for our protection. We have to have guns to protect ourselves and to be able to live off the land. There’s a lot of people who can’t afford a lot of food so they have to have the means to go hunting. [Without the NRA] crimes would go up so much, we wouldn’t be able to defend ourselves.”
The NRA expected the convention to draw about 80,000 attendees this year.
Left: David Quarles, an NRA lifetime member from Cape Coral, Florida, watches a livestream of Vice President Mike Pence’s speech at the NRA convention.
Right: Television screens at the NRA TV booth show a livestream of President Donald Trump’s speech at the convention.
Left: A crowd gathers at the NRA TV booth to watch Trump’s speech livestreamed in the exhibition hall.
Right: Myla Repik, of Springfield, Illinois, looks through the scope on a deactivated rifle.
Left: Protesters demonstrating against the NRA stage a “die in” at the Indiana Statehouse, about one block from the convention center where the NRA meetings were held.
Right: Later that same day, Caleb, from Kokomo, Indiana, (who asked to be identified by only his first name) brought his custom-built MK 18 rifle to a pro-Second Amendment demonstration at the statehouse.
Rhonda Ezell, president of Chicago Guns Matter, stands with an attack dog named Titus (left) and shows off a shirt made to open on the side for easy access to a firearm while modeling at a concealed carry fashion show in Indianapolis after the NRA convention.
Kathleen Mahall, an NRA member from Bay Village, Ohio, wears a Trump necklace and homemade Trump jacket.
Left: Mah’ ni Ware sits for a portrait while waiting on a gun giveaway raffle drawing. “If people, like myself, everyday people, go into our communities and into the urban setting and say, ‘Look, [the NRA] is not a bad thing.’ We only hear bad reports because we’re only looking at bad people and they come in all walks of life,” she said. “If you’ve got good people that are in bad areas that are willing to stand and educate, it spreads out like a garden, it begins to open up and you get people who are saying, ‘You know what, you’re right.’ That’s the way it happens. We can’t expect an organization on its own to break that barrier, it has to be the members of society who are willing to go back to their places and educate.”
Right: An exhibit at the convention.
Left: A girl holds a Barrett Model 82A1 semi-automatic rife on the floor of the exhibition hall.
Right: A wall of a vendor booth depicts people smiling and laughing while firing a weapon.
Left: Members of various militias recite the Pledge of Allegiance as they gather at the Indiana Statehouse, about one block from the NRA convention site, to hold a pro-Second Amendment rally.
Right: An anti-NRA protester walks through the middle of the pro-Second Amendment demonstration with a sign reading, “NRA, America’s #1 Terrorist Organization.”
Among the thousands of firearms were booths set up to hold demonstrations on gun safety awareness and self-defense as well as giveaways and other events to lure crowds to the hundreds of vendors.
Left: A sign touts youth activities at the convention. The convention is promoted as a family event and draws thousands of attendees of all ages.
Right: A young boy holds a deactivated rifle.
Scott Powell (right) and his son, Mason (left), from Jasper, Georgia, try out a virtual reality shooting simulator. Scott Powell said, “It [the NRA] creates an umbrella organization to help draw in the different disciplines, whether or not you’re just a hunter, competition shooter, a manufacturer, or if you just like to tinker with something. When you talk about firearms, the NRA helps bring all that stuff under one roof, especially when promoting different ideas, whether it be the legislative side, gun safety, training or competition, it helps bring everybody under one roof and focus the message of, ‘This is part of what the country was founded upon.’ What’s a more true expression of being free than being able to own something that you can protect and defend your rights as the Constitution set forth?”