Wayne LaPierre promised the assembly, “NRA will not surrender our freedom.”
In accordance with the NRA’s bylaws and other legal requirements, the 149th NRA Annual Meeting of Members was held at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort, in Tucson, Ariz., on October 24, 2020. Because of COVID-19 restrictions and concerns surrounding large gatherings, the historic Members’ Meeting had been postponed twice, putting NRA in the difficult position of finding a suitable and safe location on short notice. Following social-distancing guidelines while accommodating all attendees, the hotel’s main meeting room was supplemented by an outdoor overflow area equipped with large video monitors.
NRA First Vice President Charles Cotton chaired the proceedings in the absence of President Carolyn Meadows, who was forced to miss the meeting for family health reasons but nevertheless addressed the group in a video message. After opening ceremonies, including a prayer led by Director Susan Howard, a color guard from nearby Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and the singing of the national anthem by retired Tucson Police Dept. Lt. Jamie Brady, the meeting came to order.
The morning’s first speaker was Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, who observed, “We’ve never seen anything like this in the history of this nation. We’ve never seen so many American lives put at extreme risk by radical anti-gun politicians in pursuit of their own freedom-killing agenda. This time it’s not just our Second Amendment rights at stake, it’s our country as we know it. And it’s literally our own right to survive.”
But NRA’s longtime leader was having none of that. “We will not submit, we won’t give an inch, we will not surrender our freedom. … When you fight for freedom,” LaPierre reminded the gathering, “you get more of it. [NRA] passed—and this may be our greatest achievement—right-to-carry laws in over 40 states so you never have to face evil with empty hands. … We all know that human society is best served when the good people can arm themselves.”
Next up to the podium was Second Vice President Willes K. Lee, who introduced NRA-ILA Executive Director Jason Ouimet. Ouimet saluted Association members everywhere, saying, “For 45 years, three generations of Americans like you have stood tall fighting alongside the NRA Institute for Legislative Action, and I could not be more proud to stand and fight with you.”
Reflecting on NRA’s 150-year history of facing down anti-gun politicians, he drew a line in the sand. “Joe Biden and Kamala Harris [ran] on a promise to destroy the Second Amendment.” Their message, he recounted, is: “’Surrender to us. Bow to our demands or we’ll destroy you. Get out of our way or we’ll abuse our power to crush you. We don’t care about the law. We don’t care about due process. Our republic be damned.’”
“But we’re not going anywhere,” vowed Ouimet. “They can bloody us, but we’ll remain unbroken, unbowed and unyielding in our unapologetic defense of our fundamental, individual, God-given freedoms. … We’ll be there—you can count on it.”
In the wake of those powerful statements, Elections Committee Vice Chairman David G. Coy then reported on the 2020 mail ballot elections for NRA’s Board of Directors. Along with those elected by mail, James L. Wallace was elected to serve a one-year term on the board via balloting conducted onsite the weekend of the meeting.
Several members offered resolutions about Association affairs, most of which were referred by the body to appropriate board committees for further review. Though the gathering was smaller than usual, attendees came from across the country, thus ensuring participation by NRA members in the Association’s business.
A meeting of the NRA Board of Directors was held following the Annual Meeting of Members, during which the board re-elected Wayne LaPierre executive vice president, Carolyn Meadows president, Charles Cotton first vice president and Willes Lee second vice president. John Frazer and Craig Spray were re-elected as secretary and treasurer, respectively. Upon his re-election, LaPierre re-appointed Jason Ouimet executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action and Joseph DeBergalis executive director of NRA General Operations.