Fact Check

Are Guns Not Allowed at NRA 2023 Conference in Indianapolis?

A recurring, misleading claim about guns being banned at NRA annual meetings surfaced again in April 2023.

Published April 14, 2023

 (@piyushmittal/Twitter )
Image courtesy of @piyushmittal/Twitter
Claim:
Guns were not allowed at a National Rifle Association conference in Indianapolis in mid-April 2023.
What's True

It's true firearms were not allowed at the hall where former U.S. President Donald Trump and former U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, among others, were slated to address the event. However ...

What's False

... Attendees could carry firearms at other events during the conference.

A few days before an annual conference of the National Rifle Association (NRA) in mid-April, where high-profile speakers such as former U.S. President Donald Trump and former U.S. Vice President Mike Pence were scheduled to speak, some people claimed on social media that guns were not allowed at the three-day meeting.

"Guess what's not allowed at NRA conferences? That's correct. Guns. What a bunch of cowards," wrote a user on Twitter. 

(@piyushmittal/Twitter)

"You know the @NRA knows guns are dangerous because they ban them from their events/conventions," tweeted another.

The first user provided a link to a Rolling Stone story from April 11, 2023, about the "2023 NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits" at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis. On the first day, April 14, the high-profile NRA-ILA Leadership Forum, where top Republican Party leaders were to attend, would take place. According to the NRA, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the lobbying arm of the organization. 

The story, citing an NRA page, noted "that guns will not be permitted inside the forum on Friday, citing security concerns."

We found the claim that guns would not be allowed at the NRA event to be a mixture of truth and falsehoods, though.

Citing directives by the U.S. Secret Service, the NRA did say on its 2023 conference page that "firearms, firearm accessories, knives, and other items WILL NOT BE PERMITTED in Hall A." In its Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), the NRA clarified that this restriction "only applies to those attending the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum." 

Trump, Pence, and other leaders from the Republican Party and 2024 GOP presidential hopefuls were slated to speak in that room on that day, prompting the firearm ban. The NRA wrote:

IMPORTANT: Security Information for the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum. Please read carefully.

U.S. Secret Service will control security within Hall A of the Indiana Convention Center and require attendees of the forum to be screened through magnetometers before entry. You will be subject to a search of your person and belongings.

Per the U.S. SECRET SERVICE, firearms, firearm accessories, knives, and other items WILL NOT BE PERMITTED in Hall A. For a full list of prohibited items, please click here. Read the list of prohibited items carefully before traveling to the event. You will not be allowed in Hall A with any of the items on this list. Attendees are strongly advised to not bring bags to help with timely security processing. 

The organization also provided a list of prohibited items in Hall A, saying the area "is under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Secret Service during the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum." The banned items included "weapons of any kind," "firearms," "ammunition," and "aerosols," among others.

Meanwhile, in its FAQs page about the event, the NRA said people could carry guns during the three-day meeting. "During the 152nd NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits, personal firearms may be carried in the Indiana Convention Center," the organization said for question No. 16, and in the very next question, noted the exception for Hall A.

The conference in Indianapolis came just days after two mass shootings — one in Louisville on April 10 and one in Nashville on March 27 – prompting gun-control advocates' criticisms of the NRA's role in American politics.

Claims about the NRA banning guns from its annual event have often surfaced during its conferences. Snopes fact-checked claims that guns were banned at Trump's NRA speech in Texas in 2022, that the organization banned guns at its leadership forum in 2018, and that it banned guns at its own convention in 2015.

Given that the NRA allowed attendees to carry guns at its three-day conference in Indianapolis in April 2023, except for when they were attending speeches in Hall A on April 14, we rate the truth this claim as a  "Mixture" of true and falsehood.

Sources

Hernandez, Joe. "Guns Are Banned during Trump's Upcoming Speech at the NRA Conference." NPR, 25 May 2022. NPR, https://www.npr.org/2022/05/25/1101181842/nra-trump-speech-guns-banned-houston.

"Nashville Shooter Who Killed 6 Drew Maps, Surveilled School." AP NEWS, 27 Mar. 2023, https://apnews.com/article/nashville-school-shooting-covenant-school-5da45b469ccb6c9533bbddf20c1bfe16.

NRA Annual Meeting. https://www.nraam.org/events/2023-events/friday-april-14/nra-ila-leadership-forum/. Accessed 14 Apr. 2023.

"NRA Convention Draws Top GOP 2024 Hopefuls after Shootings." AP NEWS, 14 Apr. 2023, https://apnews.com/article/nra-republicans-trump-2024-mass-shootings-cd211ab3c074c89354a17211108d00b1.

Trump to Speak at NRA Event Days After Louisville Shooting – Rolling Stone. 12 Apr. 2023, https://web.archive.org/web/20230412230843/https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/trump-speak-nra-event-louisville-shooting-1234713111/.

Damakant Jayshi is a former writer for Snopes.