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NBC: NRA Convention Comes 'In the Middle of a National Gun Fight'

On Friday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah noted start of the National Rifle Association's convention in Houston, Texas by declaring that it "gets under way as the country engages in a heated gun control debate." In the report that followed, correspondent Gabe Gutierrez described the event as "a nine-acre gun show in the middle of a national gun fight."

Gutierrez acknowledged the recent "major congressional victory" of the gun rights group and lamented failure to pass gun restrictions: "After mass shootings in Aurora and Newtown, the NRA's opponents seemed to have momentum....But two weeks ago, a bipartisan compromise on expanded background checks for commercial gun sales was shot down in the Senate."

Even so, the reporter still touted the gun control crusade: "Now several gun control advocates are launching a coordinated effort ahead of the 2014 midterm elections. The groups claim they finally have the financial clout to challenge the NRA....Thanks to super-PACs backed by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords."

Wrapping up the segment, Gutierrez informed viewers: "Outside the convention, gun control advocates are planning a vigil for the victims of gun violence."

On Wednesday's Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams heralded gun control advocates "pushing back" at Republican senators who opposed tighter restrictions.

Here is a full transcript of the May 3 report:

7:14AM ET

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Well, today in Texas the National Rifle Association's annual convention gets under way as the country engages in a heated gun control debate. NBC's Gabe Gutierrez is Houston with this story. Gabe, good morning.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: NRA Convention Kicks Off in Texas; Comes Amid Heated Debate Over Gun Control]

GABE GUTIERREZ: Savannah, good morning. More than 70,000 people are expected to attend this convention, which runs through Sunday. The slogan here, "Stand and Fight." The NRA is riding high after a major congressional victory.

Today in Houston, a nine-acre gun show in the middle of a national gun fight. About 550 exhibitors will kick-start the NRA's annual meeting. This afternoon, scheduled speakers include Sarah Palin, Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, and Rick Perry.

DREW KELLEY [NRA MEMBER]: NRA members vote and their friends vote and that's what is driving all this.

GUTIERREZ: After mass shootings in Aurora and Newtown, the NRA's opponents seemed to have momentum.

BARACK OBAMA: This was a pretty shameful day for Washington.

GUTIERREZ: But two weeks ago, a bipartisan compromise on expanded background checks for commercial gun sales was shot down in the Senate.

DAVID KEENE [OUTGOING NRA PRESIDENT]: We don't mistake battles for wars. It was a victory in a battle, but the war continues.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN A [TV AD]: I believe in the Second Amendment and I'll fight to protect it.

GUTIERREZ: Now several gun control advocates are launching a coordinated effort ahead of the 2014 midterm elections. The groups claim they finally have the financial clout to challenge the NRA.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN B [AT GUN RANGE]: Fire!

GUTIERREZ: Thanks to super-PACs backed by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords.

LADD EVERITT [COALITION TO STOP GUN VIOLENCE]: We're simply losing too many loved ones to this epidemic and it's time for change.

GUTIERREZ: But here in this convention hall, people like Bill Dermody see it differently. He works for one of the nation's largest rifle manufacturers, that employees 600 people.

BILL: My concern as an NRA member is that any legislation needs to be targeted towards criminals and not law-abiding people.

GUTIERREZ: Outside the convention, gun control advocates are planning a vigil for the victims of gun violence, Matt.

MATT LAUER: Gabe Gutierrez in Houston this morning. Gabe, thank you very much.