HOUSTON (NBC) -- The debate over gun-control shifts to Texas today, where the National Rifle Association is holding what's expected to be its biggest convention ever.

Much of the attention this year has been on families affected by the Newtown school shooting. Today gun owners take center stage.

We'll see some of the biggest names in the conservative movement urging gun owners not to give up their weapons, or their push to protect the second amendment.

After defeating gun control in Washington...more than 70,000 gun rights advocates are expected to flood Houston's Convention Center today.

The Theme - 'Stand Up and Fight.' "One of the things we don't do is we don't mistake battles for wars. It was a victory in a battle but the war continues," said NRA President  David Keene.

Addressing the NRA today - Sarah Palin, Texas Governor Rick Perry, and Senator Ted Cruz -- who led the fight on Capitol Hill.

Former Republican Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum and conservative talk show host Glenn Beck are also scheduled to speak. "This is, in essence, a family gathering for believers in the Second Amendment," said Keene.  

Protesters plan demonstrations outside the convention. Most Americans - including 78% of Texans - support background checks. "Guns aren't going away, they're gonna be here but we got to figure out a way to make gun owners a little more responsible," said Protester Aaron Black.  

The convention is part rally, part gun show, with more than 600 dealers participating.

Some argue, they're the real power behind the NRA. "The NRA isn't really fighting for the gun owners. It's fighting for the gun makers," said Josh Sugarmann, Violence Policy Center. 

That fight, on full display, in gun-friendly Texas this weekend.

The opposition plans a full-on assault, with TV ads on background checks saturating Houston this weekend.