HOUSTON — Saturday was a big day for gun rights — both at the Texas Legislature and at the National Rifle Association’s annual convention being held in downtown Houston.
More 70,000 people are expected to attend this weekend’s event at the George R. Brown Convention Center. Some of them are calling this “the Super Bowl of lock and load.”
More than 600 visitors are now covering several football fields of space. And for many, this really marks what you could call “Gun Day” in Texas.
Conservative talk show host Glenn Beck took center stage on Saturday night
"It's not just the Democrats; it's the Republicans as well," he said. "The problems are everywhere."
Beck drew controversy earlier in the week after he said a shooting incident at Houston's Intercontinental Airport had been a "setup," blaming it on a leftist conspiracy.
But on Saturday night, Beck praised Texas while taking aim at big government.
"They feel they must regulate us until we comply," he told the convention. "I will not comply."
More than a dozen bills are on the state’s agenda, which have the word firearm or handgun in them.
Lawmakers have given preliminary approval to bills that would reduce the amount of classroom instruction needed to get a concealed handgun permit, a bill that would allow permits to be renewed online and a bill that would reduce handgun fees for reserve peace officers and veterans.
One of the most contentions – which was also approved – would allow concealed weapons permit holders to bring handguns into college classrooms.
“Yes, I think it could,” Brad Chidler, an NRA member, said regarding whether or not allowing concealed weapons in classrooms would make it safer for students. “If people knew that guns were on campus, I think it could deter a little bit.”
“You know there are always concerns, but you know the bad people are the ones that are going to have the guns anyways,” Melissa Johnson, another NRA member, said.
All the bills that got initial approval on Saturday still need to pass another vote, before heading to the state Senate.