Nathaniel Glosser imagines a flotilla of anti-gun activists gliding down the Allegheny River past gawking members of the National Rifle Association, peering out the windows of the David L. Lawrence Convention Center during their national convention April 16-18.
As lead organizer preparing to counter the NRA's annual gathering, Glosser sees a lot of possibilities for convincing the public that the gun group's love for the Second Amendment is misplaced. He knows it will be hard to beat the NRA for sheer numbers (up to 70,000 expected here), but he hopes Pittsburgh will be paying attention.
Glosser, who heads the Rosenberg Institute for Peace and Justice, says other groups focused on preventing gun violence and members of the community are currently meeting to plan their protests. Possibilities include a candlelight vigil outside the Convention Center, art projects set for exhibit during the NRA's weekend, a street fair, simultaneous screenings and dramatic performances of pieces dealing with the effect of weaponry, and a memorial service for shooting victims. Organizers, who include the NAACP of Pittsburgh, may try to get a local high school to perform Bang Bang You're Dead, a play by William Mastrosimone written in response to the shootings at Colorado's Columbine High School and offered free to school drama programs. Glosser expects a rally and concert on April 17 to be the largest event.
To the long-time charge that the NRA promotes violence, Glosser says, "They also promote racism, sexism, homophobia." He cites the NRAleaders.com Web site, actually an anti-NRA site, that features quotes from NRA board members Jeff Cooper ("... no more than five to ten people in a hundred who die by gunfire in Los Angeles are any loss to society ...") and Ted Nugent ("Apartheid isn't that cut and dry. All men are not created equal ..."), among others.
The group's April weekend will be "all about selling guns," says Glosser, pointing to the mass of exhibitors expected in attendance (see the NRA's annual meeting Web site: NRAam.org). "The NRA's annual meeting is the world's largest gun trade show."