Nightly News   |  May 03, 2013

NRA's show of strength in Houston

Gun enthusiasts gathered in Houston, Texas, for the NRA's yearly convention just two weeks after a bill aimed at expanding background checks for firearm sales failed in the Senate. NBC's Gabe Gutierrez reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> the fight over guns took center stage in texas today as the national rifle association opened up its annual convention. gun rights group has, of course, been at the center of the debate. the failed vote on background checks in the senate and the gathering was fired up as it got under way today. gabe gutierrez is following the story in houston .

>> reporter: today in texas, a show of strength .

>> keep the faith . stand up and fight for our freedoms.

>> reporter: sarah palin energizing the nra 's annual meeting , possibly its largest ever. it is expected to draw more than 70,000 gun enthusiasts throughout the weekend. martin and donna baker joined the nra this year.

>> second amendment needs all the support it can get right now.

>> reporter: after the mass shootings in aurora and newtown, the nra 's critics had momentum until two weeks ago.

>> this was a pretty shameful day for washington.

>> reporter: when a bill aimed at expanding background checks for commercial gun sales failed in the senate.

>> we will never back away from our resolve to defend our rights and the rights of all law abiding american gun owners.

>> reporter: the gun control debate is far from over.

>> i'm an nra member. i also believe in sensible gun laws .

>> reporter: this new tv ad airing in houston is part of a renewed push by gun control advocates ahead of the 2014 midterm election. the move is paid for in part by new york mayor michael bloomberg . outside the convention hall today, small protests on behalf of the victims of gun violence .

>> i think about jesse almost constantly.

>> reporter: neil heston lost his 6-year-old son in newtown and is in houston this week.

>> i wish for a moment they could be in my place to see what i'm going through.

>> i pray for them.

>> reporter: larry alder says he sympathizes but doesn't think gun control is the answer.

>> you cannot legislate something to handle somebody that is mentally deranged.

>> reporter: many say the convention is about more than legislation. it is about a way of life they feel is under attack. this convention continues in the morning with the annual meeting of members. then tomorrow night a rally headlined by political commentator glenn beck . brian?

>> gabe gutierrez in houston for us tonight. thanks.