The National Rifle Association has cancelled its 149th annual members’ meeting and exhibits that were scheduled April 16-19 in Nashville.
While the announcement was not entirely a surprise—Nashville had been recently hit by a devastating tornado and concerns about the spread of the coronavirus led to an emergency declaration in Tennessee—it comes as a disappointment, considering this is an election year and NRA members use the meetings to energize.
The NRA issued the following notice on its website:
Important Update: NRA Annual Meeting Cancellation
With our 149th Annual Meeting scheduled for next month in Nashville, we realize many NRA members and meeting guests have questions about the coronavirus (COVID-19) and the potential impact on our convention.
We have been closely monitoring updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Tennessee Department of Health. In fact, earlier today, a state of emergency was declared in Tennessee.
Therefore, we have reluctantly decided to cancel this year’s NRA Annual Meeting, planned for April 16 – 19 in Nashville.
This applies to all events and scheduled programs, including the NRA-ILA Forum. We sincerely regret the need for this action, particularly for our many loyal members who join us for this annual celebration of the NRA and our constitutional freedoms. Details regarding a rescheduled NRA Members’ Meeting will be forthcoming.
Under the direction of NRA President Carolyn Meadows, the NRA Board of Directors is working with the Office of the Secretary in relation to board elections, meetings, and the like.
Please know that we did not reach this decision lightly. We were ultimately guided by our responsibility to help ensure the safety and well-being of our NRA members, guests, and surrounding community.
Please coordinate directly with any hotels, airlines or others who have assisted with your travel arrangements. Most companies have announced plans to accommodate travelers dealing with event cancellations.
Please visit www.nraam.org for additional news and information regarding NRA activities. Thank you for your understanding and continued support.
The only other time in recent memory that NRA cancelled its annual meeting was in April 1999 in Denver, Colo. just days after the tragedy at Columbine High School in Littleton. While the NRA Board of Directors held its required meeting, the exhibits and other activities were cancelled.
In recent years, the annual NRA conventions have drawn as many as 80,000 members and visitors.
NRA has been under intense pressure for more than a year, with questions raised about its financial health and a series of competing lawsuits between the organization and its longtime public relations firm, Ackerman McQueen.
The controversy erupted last year at the annual meeting in Indianapolis, and then-NRA President Lt. Col. Oliver North stepped down in what has been described as a power struggle with longtime NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre.