The National Rifle Association, piqued at Maryland and Gov. Donald Schaefer over a gun-control law approved last year, is moving its 1992 convention from Baltimore to Salt Lake City, an NRA offical told the Deseret News on Friday.
The NRA meetings typically attract between 16,000 and 26,000. The association will meet in the Salt Palace and use the Marriott Hotel as its headquarters for the sessions, which will run April 24-28.Warren Cheek, secretary of the NRA, said the association was concerned that vendors would be unable to display weapons at a meeting in Baltimore. At the last NRA convention, he said, 191 exhibitors occupied 470 10-by-10-foot booths and the sessions required 100,000 square feet of space.
Maryland's legislature, prodded by Schaefer, passed the gun bill a year ago. After a costly election campaign, Maryland voters approved it in a referendum last November. It was an expensive defeat for the NRA, which spent more than $6 million to campaign against the bill. Worse, it was an insult to the NRA, which gained much of its legendary clout in 1970 when it defeated Democratic Sen. Joseph Tydings over his backing of gun control.
Cheek said the last NRA convention held in Salt Lake City attracted 16,000 people in 1978. The Baltimore session, he said, probably would have drawn nearly 30,000 because more members live within a day's drive of that city. He said it is possible that the Utah meet could draw more because of heavy NRA membership on the West Coast. The largest NRA convention ever held, he said, was in Seattle in 1985.