USA – -(AmmoLand.com)- You probably heard about the NRA’s big Annual Meeting and Exhibits scheduled for Houston, Texas on September 3-5 of this year. And you probably heard that those events were canceled just over a week before they were scheduled to begin!/
All this was supposedly because exhibitors were afraid of COVID-19 Delta. But did you hear about the rescheduled NRA Annual Meeting of Members on October 2nd 2021, in Charlotte, North Carolina? If you did, congratulations! You’re paying attention! Unfortunately, most of the rest of the NRA membership isn’t really paying attention, and they either don’t know that the meeting is about to happen or don’t know that attendance will be limited, requiring preregistration, which I’ve been told was already maxed out over a week ago.
The October 2 2021 meeting date was only announced to NRA Directors on September 12, just 3 weeks before the event. According to “Wayback Machine” which tracks changes across the web, the NRAAM.org page announcing the cancellation appeared on August 25. On September 15 the Wayback Machine shows that the page changed to an announcement that “THE 2021 NRA ANNUAL MEETINGS & EXHIBITS HAS BEEN CANCELLED (sic) AND WILL NOT BE RESCHEDULED.”
That statement makes the following headline announcing that registration for the 2021 Annual Meeting is open, seem incongruent, and probably an artifact left over from the original Houston announcement. Only when you read the smaller print under that headline do you see mention of Charlotte and October 3.
Finally, on Wednesday, September 22, the website was changed so that it automatically forwarded visitors to a ticketing site offering registration for the Charlotte event. On Thursday, September 23, people were reporting that the event was “sold out,” with no more tickets available. Apparently, the room the NRA reserved for their Members’ Meeting, has a maximum capacity under COVID restrictions, of only a few hundred, and the lions share of the tickets were doled out in advance to Directors and their families and friends, just as happened with the Tucson meeting in 2020. Since it only requires 100 NRA members to constitute a quorum at a Members’ Meeting, that requirement can easily be met with just Directors and their spouses.
Of course, there was never any announcement about the Charlotte Meeting in any of the NRA magazines, but a few members have reported that they received an email letting them know about the meeting. Every one of the members who reported to me about receiving that email was an Annual Member who has not yet reached the 5 consecutive years of membership required to be vested with voting rights in the Association. Maybe that was just a coincidence?
Until just a few months ago, the NRA Bylaws required that information about the where and when of the Annual Meeting of Members – a business meeting that is required by law – must be published in at least two consecutive issues of the Official Journal of the NRA (the three or four pages of inside NRA information published toward the back of each of NRA’s magazines). That Bylaw fell by the wayside after the Association failed to meet that standard last year. After rescheduling and canceling the 2020 Annual Meeting several times, they finally settled on a short-notice, shoestring meeting at a hotel in Tucson. At a subsequent Board meeting, the Board changed the Bylaws, creating exceptions for the meeting requirement in extreme circumstances such as hurricanes or pandemics, and changing the meeting notice requirements.
Under the new Bylaws, the Association is just required to meet the minimum announcement requirements of the state in which the Association is incorporated – New York – which offers several options for alerting members to a meeting. The easiest and cheapest of those options is for the Association to publish an announcement at least once per week for three weeks prior to the scheduled meeting, in a newspaper in the local area of the Association’s primary business location. So the NRA, with some five million members nationwide, is only legally obligated to let those five million members know about their Annual Meeting of Members, by publishing a classified ad once per week for three weeks, in some local Fairfax, Virginia newspaper. But all indications are that they didn’t even bother to do that.
What can members do about the lack of notice of the meeting and the limited capacity of the meeting room? Sue? That would be just another opportunity for the current “leadership” to funnel even more member money into the pocket of the NRA’s $2 million per month attorney, Bill Brewer.
The obvious first question is, why was the original meeting canceled?
Even if exhibitors were uncomfortable with the idea of attending a huge trade show during a Delta variant surge in Texas, the Association could have canceled the exhibits and other ancillary events, retaining only the already planned Annual Meeting of Members and the subsequent Board of Directors’ meeting. That would have been the easiest option and one that would have avoided confusion while providing the best opportunity for NRA members to participate in their Association’s business. Not to mention guaranteeing that they were in compliance with the laws and their own Bylaws.
But of course, the NRA brass is not interested in members interfering – err excuse me – participating in the Association’s business, nor is there much evidence that they are worried to any great degree about adhering to the Bylaws, or the laws of the state of New York.
Instead, they canceled everything, then at the last minute quietly rolled out plans for the meeting to be held in Charlotte, leaving most members in the dark. On top of that, the location and venue they have selected are under masking and social-distancing mandates. Everyone who attends will be required to wear a mask, regardless of vaccination or prior infection with COVID-19, and the number of attendees that will be allowed into the meeting room will be further limited by capacity restrictions. At last year’s Tucson meeting, Directors and their families and friends, comprised at least half, if not two-thirds, of the attendees in the main room. Some additional people were able to participate from overflow seating on a patio just outside the meeting room, with closed-circuit TV feeds, but few of those people stayed long in the Arizona sun.
I had hoped to see NRA members make a solid, loud, angry showing at the Members’ Meeting in Houston. After all, Houston NRA members formed the core of the Federation for NRA, which was the group behind the Cincinnati Revolt in 1977. Our plan was for the members to raise such a ruckus that they would wake up their derelict Directors to the destructive choices they’ve been making, and convince them to take major steps toward protecting the NRA. Major steps like replacing Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre and Secretary Jon Frazer, both named defendants in the lawsuit filed by the state of New York, and reorganizing the leadership of the Board of Directors, taking power away from “leaders” who have blatantly lied to the Board and NRA members, and who have been complicit in allowing LaPierre and company to rape the Association while neglecting their core responsibilities.
At this point, I see no chance of the Board doing anything at all to mitigate the coming disaster. For the NRA “the worst is yet to come.”
The New York Attorney General’s Office has made it abundantly clear that they intend to push for nothing less than the complete dissolution of the NRA, and they have built a devastating case to support that objective. The judge in the case has made it clear that dissolution of the Association is absolutely on the table, and he’s signaled that some of the claims NRA’s “leadership” and high-priced attorneys have made about their “strong legal position,” amount to tissue paper shields.
In short, the NRA is in serious trouble.
The Houston meeting might have been the last flickering hope of mitigating the devastating outcome we all see looming. With the cancellation of the Houston meeting and the subsequent scheduling of a limited, masked, distanced, and no doubt sparsely-attended (not to mention, tightly controlled) meeting in Charlotte, I honestly believe the battle to save the NRA has been lost. NRA Director Phil Journey will be virtually alone as a voice of reason on the Board, after the Charlotte Members’ Meeting, and I expect another wave of resignations from the Board within days of the close of that meeting.
If you are an NRA Voting Member (Life or at least 5-years consecutive membership), and you live within reasonable driving distance of Charlotte, I encourage you to attend and do your best to make your NRA Directors see the cultish mindset that has consumed the Board. Demand answers to simple questions like; “Why was Wayne given a $500k bonus while donations were down, membership was stagnant, Carry Guard was crashing, budgets were being cut across all NRA programs, there were growing accusations of impropriety, and Wayne admitted to having received over $300k in excess compensation,” and “Why are we paying Bill Brewer millions of dollars each month?”
I encourage your attendance knowing full well that there will be little opportunity to accomplish anything meaningful or worthwhile at the Members’ Meeting in Charlotte, but I know that a few stalwarts will be there to wave the flag for a rational approach. Your participation would be appreciated. If you can’t get a “ticket,” don’t be deterred. I believe there will be a whole bunch of no-shows, providing an opportunity for others to attend.
I expect the meeting in Charlotte to go very much like the meeting in Tucson did, beginning with a video message from outgoing President Meadows, apologizing for her inability to attend, and praising the amazing accomplishments of our Dear Leader, Wayne LaPierre. Then First Vice President Charles Cotton will take charge of the meeting, praising Wayne, and declaring that nothing that touches on anything involved in any of the various lawsuits can be discussed during the meeting, even though virtually all of it is a public record already, through depositions and testimony in the various suits and the bankruptcy trial.
At that moment the members should rise up and demand that Cotton relinquish the gavel as being biased and having serious conflicts of interest, and have the Parliamentarian chair the meeting. That won’t happen, but it should. Of course, the Parliamentarian was hired by and is paid by the current “leadership,” but he has his public reputation, certifications, and career to consider.
From there, the meeting will go into reports of the officers, where they’ll tell you what a great job everyone is doing, and what great accomplishments are just around the corner. Then they’ll finally get to Resolutions, where a few “disgruntled members” will try to express their frustration with poorly worded and confusing resolutions calling for various unspecified actions, and other resolutions calling for “No Confidence” votes against LaPierre and other “leaders.” Each of these will be met by a phalanx of Directors rising to say that the whole thing is silly, that everything’s great, and Wayne’s the only one who can lead the Association out of the bottom of this deep well that Wayne and this Board have dug us into.
Then someone will call for adjournment and the meeting will close.
Later that same day, the Board will hold their meeting. The officers will again tell everyone how great everything is, the Nominating Committee will offer a slate of candidates for officer positions, led by Wayne LaPierre for Executive Vice President and Charles Cotton for President. Hopefully, Phil Journey will then rise to nominate alternate candidates. There will probably be some argument about the nominating process, and the Board might even go into Executive Session to try to hide the appearance of any dissent within the Board. There will then be some argument about the voting process, trying to avoid secret ballots, and finally, a vote will be taken, Wayne and company will be reelected, there will be an effort made to have the record reflect the vote as “unanimous,” and the meeting will quickly be wrapped up.
That’s my prediction. I’ll let you know how close I came, shortly after the meeting.
If you’re thinking of attending the Members’ Meeting in Charlotte, be sure to go to NRAAM.org and try to reserve your seat in the meeting. If you can’t get a “ticket,” go anyway. For the Tucson meeting, they told many people they couldn’t register because all of the tickets had been reserved, then when ticket-holders failed to show up, those people who had been turned away weren’t around to claim the open seats, leaving lots of empty chairs.
When it comes to Second Amendment advocacy groups, the NRA isn’t just the 300-pound gorilla, they are an aircraft carrier with all other groups being PT boats and dinghies. While the rest of the fleet is agile and quick, and sometimes able to lay down some serious, concentrated fire, none of them can do what the NRA can do, and not one of them is in a position to grow into that role. The NRA’s membership list alone is more valuable than all other 2A groups combined. We’ve seen how such a powerful organization is a two-edged sword, but not having them would be very difficult, so we need to try to save the Association, in spite of the foolish actions of the Board of Directors.
I think our last, meager hope will be a letter-writing campaign to the judge. I’ll keep you posted on that idea as things develop. Meanwhile, keep your powder dry, support your local grassroots organizations, and keep reading AmmoLand News.
About Jeff Knox:
Jeff Knox is a second-generation political activist and director of The Firearms Coalition. His father Neal Knox led many of the early gun rights battles for your right to keep and bear arms. Read Neal Knox – The Gun Rights War.
The Firearms Coalition is a loose-knit coalition of individual Second Amendment activists, clubs and civil rights organizations. Founded by Neal Knox in 1984, the organization provides support to grassroots activists in the form of education, analysis of current issues, and with a historical perspective of the gun rights movement. The Firearms Coalition has offices in Buckeye, Arizona and Manassas, VA. Visit: www.FirearmsCoalition.org.