Like virtually every big event that was scheduled in April and May, one prominent casualty of the coronavirus state of emergency and lockdown was the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting and convention that had been scheduled for Nashville from April 16-19. That lost revenue was a big hit to the gun rights org, at least partially contributing to salary freezes and layoffs.
Now, as the country slowly begins to reopen for business, the NRA may try to recoup some of that revenue. They’ve announced that the association’s annual meeting has been rescheduled for the fall.
Stephen Gutowski of the Washington Free Beacon reports that the annual meeting will take place in Springfield, Missouri on Saturday, September 5.
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.
Should the NRA decide to stage a condensed version of its annual convention along with the meeting — something that isn’t yet clear — it would bring in only a fraction of the usual revenue.
The Springfield convention center has only about 5% of the floor space of Nashville’s facility. It wouldn’t accommodate anything close to NRA annual exhibit’s usual hundreds of exhibitors or accomodate 70 to 80,000 attendees. And Springfield is both a less compelling draw and much harder to get to via air than Music City.
The political advocacy side of the gun-rights group has also long presented the leadership forum during the Annual Meeting. That event features speeches from House members and senators who are supportive of the group’s mission and has long been one of the most influential gun-rights events in the country. Donald Trump has spoken at every forum since becoming president. This year, there are no announced plans to hold the forum or have the president speak to those gathered at the members’ meeting.
No leadership forum would also negatively affect attendance. So if the NRA does elect to try to go ahead with some kind of smaller show along with its September 5 meeting, it would likely provide very little help to alleviate the org’s financial woes.