Thousands of gun enthusiasts are in Charlotte, NC, this weekend for the 139th annual National Rifle Association (NRA) convention. The convention has attracted speakers like former Alaska governor Sarah Palin and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R), as well as a significant number of exhibitors selling all sorts of gun and gun-related paraphernalia.
ThinkProgress is at the convention and noticed a booth for Blackwater, the contractor that became infamous after one of its convoys in Baghdad opened fire in a crowded square in 2007 and killed 17 Iraqi civilians. Despite this dangerous legacy, ThinkProgress’s Ben Armbruster noticed that the company was proudly displaying assault rifles today:
What’s interesting about this booth is the fact that Blackwater officially changed its name to Xe in 2009, recognizing that it needed to try to rebrand itself and escape from the taint of the Iraq massacre. However, the company still retains the Blackwater name for its “Pro Shop,” which sells gift shop-type products with the Blackwater logo to the public. So when the company is talking to the media or Capitol Hill, it’s presenting its brand new Xe face. But when it’s marketing itself to a certain segment of conservatives, Blackwater still sells. A few of the items on Blackwater’s Pro Shop site, including a Baghdad poster depicting Blackwater’s logo as the bat signal and a beach towel:
There is currently no federal ban on assault rifles. Last year, Attorney General Eric Holder said that the Obama administration would be seeking to reinstate that ban, although no action has been taken so far. Ironically, “the carrying of firearms, both open and concealed” are banned at the NRA Convention.