The NRA And The White House Criticized Gun-Free Zones... But You Can't Bring Guns To Pence's NRA Speech

The decision has drawn a lot of attention.

When the National Rifle Association (NRA) conference convenes on Friday in Atlanta, Georgia, there will be a partial gun ban in place.  The decision was announced last week on the NRA conference's website, which said security for the event was being run by the Secret Service. Initially, Vice President Mike Pence's attendance prompted the security regulations — but now President Donald Trump is expected to attend as well.

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"Due to the attendance of the Vice President of the United States, the U.S. Secret Service will be responsible for event security at the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum," the NRA said in its announcement. "As a result, firearms and firearm accessories, knives or weapons of any kind will be prohibited in the forum prior to and during his attendance."

Evan El-Amin / Shutterstock.com

The announcement is particularly notable because of the NRA's stance against "gun-free zones," or areas like schools, government buildings and places of worship where weapons are explicitly prohibited. Gun rights advocates frequently claim that gun-free zones are often where mass shootings happen. One controversial study claims that upwards of 97 percent of mass shootings happen in gun-free zones.

The NRA says that it will allow guns for other parts of the conference that the president and vice president won't be attending. It did not immediately respond to a series of follow up questions.

In March, NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch appeared on Fox & Friends to criticize the idea that gun-free zones kept people safer.

"Once again, I just want to throw the statistic out that since 1950 to July of 2016, 98.4 percent of mass shootings, these mass casualty incidents have taken place in gun-free zones," she said. "So this is the one thing that we immediately first need to get rid of is this idea that creating soft targets and making people defenseless somehow keeps them safer." 

In response to the news, critics of the NRA hopped on the apparent hypocrisy. An alumnus of Marjory Stoneman Douglass, whose siblings were survivors of the Parkland, Florida shooting was critical of the decision on Twitter. 

"Wait wait wait wait wait wait you're telling me to make the VP safe there aren't any weapons around but when it comes to children they want guns everywhere?" Matt Deitsch asked on Twitter. "Can someone explain this to me?"

Loesch responded to criticisms on Twitter, citing a now-deleted Associated Press report claiming the NRA banned guns. She noted that the ban happens every year at the Secret Service's request.

Cover image via  Evan El-Amin.

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