DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – The gun debate takes center stage in downtown Dallas today as the National Rifle Association (NRA) begins its annual meeting at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.

Actress and activist Alyssa Milano, relatives of mass shooting victims in Parkland, Florida and Aurora, Colorado and other gun-control groups are expected to be among the thousands of protestors participating in anti-NRA rallies over the next few days.

Officials with the Dallas Police Department wouldn’t go into specifics but promised security at the event would be tight.

According to the NRA website this year’s event will have “more than 20 acres” of firearms, shooting and hunting accessory displays. The convention will also feature product demonstrations and seminars on gun ownership.

The NRA’s member meeting will take place Saturday morning. At least three protests are scheduled that same day.

The North Texas Patriots for Liberty, a group that says they support the NRA and the 2nd Amendment, will also rally Saturday and say they expect big crowds. The Next Generation Action Network will hold their NRA protest on Friday, at the same time President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence will be speaking.

“We want the NRA to stop pushing back against sensible gun laws, stop pushing back on background checks on automatic assault rifles and bump stocks,” said Minister Dominique Alexander. “All of those things that are sensible.”

Except for a banquet this evening, there are few events planned on this first day of the convention. The exhibit hall opens tomorrow and that is also when the NRA-Institute for Legislative Action Leadership Forum will take place. In addition to the President and Vice President, Governor Greg Abbott, and Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz are scheduled to speak at the event.

Those who are authorized to carry guns legally may do so outside of the convention center. No weapons of any sort will be allowed inside on Friday while Trump and Pence are speaking.

The convention, which is expected to draw some 80,000 gun advocates to Texas, runs through Sunday.

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)