Among the many events interrupted by COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdowns was the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting. The meeting tends to be a big event in the firearms world, probably only rivaled by the SHOT Show in Las Vegas. And, of course, it didn’t happen.
For a lot of people, that was something of a bummer. Not just because of the NRA aspects, but because the meeting tends to attract high-profile speakers, including President Trump.
And, again, it didn’t happen.
At least, it didn’t happen when it was originally scheduled to happen. It seems that it will take place, though, albeit in an abbreviated form.
The National Rifle Association canceled its largest gathering of the year at the start of the coronavirus outbreak, but the organization said it will move forward with a limited members’ meeting scheduled for September.
The gun-rights group said the meeting will now be held on Saturday, September 5, at the Springfield Expo Center in Springfield, Missouri. The news comes after the NRA was forced to cancel its April conference scheduled to take place in Nashville, Tennessee, due to coronavirus stay-at-home orders. The Springfield event appears to be scaled back as it is scheduled to take place over the course of a single Saturday, rather than the three-day event that typically draws tens of thousands of gun enthusiasts, retailers, and manufacturers.
The NRA said the meeting where members provide feedback to the organization’s leadership would begin at 9 a.m. on the September 5. However, officials weren’t able to confirm whether or not there would be events taking place beyond that meeting. Traditionally, the members’ meeting is part of the NRA’s greater Annual Meeting, which includes a large exhibit floor featuring the gun industry’s latest offerings as well as speeches from politicians and the group’s leadership. The meeting has drawn up to 80,000 attendees in recent years.
The NRA has long used its Annual Meeting as a fundraising vehicle. While the group reported a rebound in donations and contributions in 2018, it has been forced to furlough and lay off staff amidst the coronavirus pandemic. A reduced convention may contribute to the financial struggles facing the group in the lead up to the 2020 election.
As it stands, there doesn’t appear to be any confirmed vendors for the convention center, which may suggest that there won’t be much beyond the essential meetings.
That’s not likely to help improve the financial situation for the NRA.
However, this is also likely all they could manage under the circumstances. An event the size of the typical annual meeting takes months of preparation, efforts that don’t necessarily lend themselves to relocation. Especially since vendors may or may not be able to adjust to the new schedule.
The last thing the NRA needs is to hold a party and no one be able to come.
Instead, an abbreviated schedule and a focus on the business end of the organization may well be the right move. While it’s unlikely to help the organization financially due to reduced fundraising efforts, it’s not all about that, even for a cash-strapped NRA.
It should be interesting to see how the event shakes out as the date gets closer.