NRA gun lobby cancels annual U.S. meeting, citing COVID-19 surge

Gun News

By Steve Gorman

(Reuters) – The National Rifle Association (NRA) said on Tuesday it has canceled its upcoming annual convention, which was set to open late next week in Houston, citing public health concerns posed by the recent surge in COVID-19 cases.

The announcement came amid court action brought by New York state Attorney General Letitia James seeking to dissolve the NRA, accusing the nation’s leading firearms lobby of failing to root out rampant internal corruption.

The NRA’s yearly Meeting & Exhibits event typically draws tens of thousands of attendees from across the country, primarily members of the gun rights organization, to several days of social gatherings, assemblies and firearms displays.

The 2021 event had been scheduled to run from Sept. 3 through Sept. 5 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston.

But the beleaguered organization said in a statement it had decided to indefinitely postpone the annual meeting “after analyzing relevant data regarding COVID-19 in Harris County, Texas,” which encompasses the city of Houston.

Texas, like much of the United States, has seen COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths climb sharply in recent weeks as the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus spread swiftly through the population, especially among the unvaccinated.

“The NRA’s top priority is ensuring the health and well-being of our members, staff, sponsors and supporters,” the group said in its statement. “We are mindful that NRA annual meeting patrons will return home to family, friends and co-workers from all over the country, so any impacts from the virus could have broader implications.”

The NRA, embroiled in allegations of graft and mismanagement, had sought to use Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to reincorporate in Republican-dominated Texas and escape what it called a corrupt political and regulatory environment in New York, where it was founded in 1871.

But a federal bankruptcy judge in Dallas dismissed the Chapter 11 filing in May, calling it an improper effort to avoid the lawsuit brought by James.

In an amended complaint filed last week, James said the NRA’s concealment of millions of dollars in questionable transactions, awarding perks to longtime Chief Executive Wayne LaPierre and other insiders, had “continued unabated” since she first sued the nonprofit last August.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Karishma Singh)

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