By David Codrea
USA – -(Ammoland.com)- “Saturday Night Celebration Tickets are now on sale!” the NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits Facebook page announced Thursday. “The National Rifle Association presents Toby Keith with special guest Chris Janson Saturday May 21 at the KFC Yum! Center!”
Keith last headlined the Association’s entertainment program in Orlando in 2003. Understandably, especially with the recent manufactured furor over the upcoming “gun free” RNC Convention, initial comments are asking if the NRA concert will be in a “gun free” venue. Online resources leave room for uncertainty.
WideOpenSpaces reports “NRA will allow concealed guns at annual meetings in Kentucky,” but appears to walk that back a bit when referencing the concert by citing “official policy” and providing a general link to the Annual Meeting website.
Likewise, the KFC Yum! Center’s Guest Services page is not definitive:
Firearms: During University of Louisville events, no firearms are permitted inside the venue. During all other events, firearms may be restricted at the discretion of the individual promoter. To find out the firearms policy for a specific show, please call the KFC Yum! Center at 502-690-9000 on the day of the show.
Hopefully, definitive rules will be forthcoming and we won’t need to wait until the day of the show. NRA responded to my specific request (“Will concealed firearms be permitted in the Yum facility for the NRA’s Toby Keith concert?”) by repeating the policy cited above:
Hi David, During the 2016 NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits, lawfully carried firearms will be permitted in the Kentucky Exposition Center (KEC), in accordance with Kentucky law. Firearms and knives will be prohibited in any areas temporarily under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Secret Service. When carrying your firearm, remember to follow all federal, state and local laws. Please note that under Kentucky law, concealed firearms are prohibited in areas primarily devoted to dispensing alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption, and loaded firearms are prohibited in any room where alcoholic beverages are being sold by the drink. Alcoholic beverages will be served at some events at the Kentucky International Convention Center (KICC), in certain areas of the KFC Yum! Center, and in some smaller venues.
That doesn’t quite get us there as definitively as “Yes” or “No.” I replied by simply asking (again) “Will they be permitted at the Keith concert?” (No answer has been received at this writing – this post will be updated if I get one.)
KFC Yum! Center’s response also only adds to the confusion:
Hi David, thanks for reaching out. In reply to your question, the NRA has directed us to say the following. This is the only information we are able to provide: For information regarding firearms carry policy for this event, click here: https://www.nraam.org/
Good luck navigating through that for anything definitive beyond the inconclusive policy statement. That makes it fair to ask why NRA is apparently being so coy that they’re controlling what the arena’s public relations people can say.
Best guess: People will be able to get beer and other refreshments at the concert, meaning “No.” If that’s it, NRA could just say so.
Curiously, carrying firearms had also been reported prohibited at Toby Keith’s namesake restaurants. A few years back, Fox 5 reported an outlet in Virginia with a prominent “No Guns” sign. And the “I Love This Bar and Grill” brand notwithstanding, perhaps that contributed to why so many locations have been abruptly closed (in addition to widespread questionable business practices).
Even more curiously, Keith has admitted voting for Bill Clinton twice, meaning he voted for him after the 1994 “assault weapon” ban. And while some may say his subsequent votes for George Bush indicated a change of heart, it hardly explains his political actions after that. Because five years after Keith wowed NRA members in Orlando, he declared himself a supporter of the man NRA’s Wayne LaPierre called “the most anti-gun president ever to occupy the Oval Office.” Keith praised Barack Obama, calling him “the best Democratic candidate we’ve had since Bill Clinton. And that’s coming from a Democrat.” And Keith went on to honor Obama by performing at his 2009 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo.
It’s not unreasonable to ask – with all the entertainers out there – why Toby Keith? Why is it in the interests of NRA members to pay top dollar to see that guy and to cheer him on?
And it’s certainly not unreasonable to just expect and get an unequivocal answer on the gun question.
About David Codrea:
David Codrea is the winner of multiple journalist awards for investigating / defending the RKBA and a long-time gun rights advocate who defiantly challenges the folly of citizen disarmament.
In addition to being a field editor/columnist at GUNS Magazine and associate editor for Oath Keepers, he blogs at “The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance,” and posts on Twitter: @dcodrea and Facebook.