The NRA is supposed to hold its Annual Meeting in Houston, Texas, starting on September 3rd.
However, with Covid cases still rising and available hospital capacity shrinking, some of the biggest names in the industry are pulling out of the event. Benelli USA, Browning, FN Herstal, Kimber Manufacturing, Savage Arms, Smith & Wesson, Springfield Armory, Sig Sauer, and Sturm, Ruger & Company are all skipping the indoor exhibit hall, according to The Daily Beast. The companies don’t want to risk their employees’ health, and the report claims some have gone as far as pressuring the NRA to cancel the event altogether.
The NRA did not comment on the state of the Annual Meeting when I reached out to them for comment on the situation.
So, where does that leave things? Will Covid wipe out the second NRA Annual Meeting in a row? It’s honestly hard for me to say.
The Annual Meeting is the biggest fundraising event of the year for the NRA. The gun-rights group could certainly use the influx of cash as it struggles to recover from last year’s Covid crash while trying to keep up with the exorbitant legal fees from its failed bankruptcy gambit and the New York Attorney General’s ongoing lawsuit seeking its dissolution.
Canceling the event less than two weeks before it’s set to happen would also likely be a very costly endeavor. The Annual Meeting is a massive undertaking that usually sees upwards of 80,000 attendees. Those folks tend to buy a lot of NRA merchandise and memberships while they’re there, and purchasing all the supplies to make it happen likely runs into the millions.
Plus, I’m sure they’ve paid quite a lot to get the convention center. Unless the government forcing them to cancel the event, who knows if they could get any of that back?
Of course, going through with the meeting now has two pronounced problems. Namely, the optics of an exhibit hall devoid of the biggest names in the industry and the elevated risk of a significant covid outbreak among attendees.
I booked my flight and hotel earlier this week, and I’ve yet to cancel them. Being fairly young and fully vaccinated, I’m not at much risk. But I’ll probably wear a KN-95 mask in the exhibit hall if the event does move forward. Is that overly cautious? Probably, yea. But I also carry a gun on me everywhere I go on the off chance somebody tries to attack me. So, I guess I’m fairly risk-averse by nature.
The stories of people my age getting bad cases of Covid tend to stick in my head the same way stories of people being victimized by violent criminals. Neither is likely to happen to me when I walk out my door, but there’s no guarantee of that. So, I’ll take the reasonable preventative measures I can. You never know what vandal or variant is waiting for you around the bend.
If the NRA does go through with the meeting, I will be there to provide coverage of whatever happens. I would expect some fireworks over the group’s legal woes during the members’ meeting and the board meeting. 2019’s meeting produced a lot of news, and I would be surprised if 2021 doesn’t do the same.