Sadly, so much has happened in our world since my last column to you. As we continue to address the unprecedented health and economic challenges sparked by the public health crisis, I want to begin by sharing how I pray for each of you every day—for the peace, health and safety of our over five million member-strong NRA family, our resilient Association, our elected leaders, and our country.
It was with a heavy heart that we cancelled the 149th NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits in Nashville, April 16-19, as America prepared to endure a state of emergency. Gathering with more than 80,000 of you each spring to celebrate our NRA and American freedom is the highlight of my year. In the end, we were driven by our responsibility to ensure the health and safety of our members, supporters, and the surrounding community. Following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and travel restrictions, as well as actions by the state of Tennessee, we made the decision necessary to help mitigate the spread of the disease.
As so many sheltered in place during the weeks that followed, our Second Amendment family saw America’s priorities shift back to basics—to a focus on family, faith, the love of our country, and the importance of self-protection and self-reliance. Marked increases in the production and sales of firearms and ammunition underscored the relevance of the Second Amendment and of the NRA’s leadership role in protecting it. We witnessed how the ability to exercise such freedom is even more urgent in a time of emergency. And through it all, our NRA remained “freedom’s safest place” as it filed federal lawsuits against New York and California for labeling gun shops “nonessential” businesses, preventing law-abiding residents in those states from buying firearms and ammunition. The NRA recognizes we have a right to that which protects our lives and our dignity and that a firearm needed for self-defense can never and should never be labelled nonessential.
Amid this sense of urgency, law-abiding gun owners are looking to the NRA for guidance and direction. As America’s oldest civil rights organization, our NRA remains the leader in offering firearm safety, education and training programs while NRA-ILA wields its firepower to protect our freedom’s future. Action and leadership are the NRA’s daily mission, and without our dedication, how long would the Second Amendment continue to exist? Who will promote and protect freedom for all law-abiding Americans—members and non-members alike—if not the NRA?
I ask myself these questions as our NRA is not immune to the economic impacts of the pandemic. Cancellation of our NRA Annual Meeting was followed by the required suspension of NRA safety and training programs and services, competitive shooting events, Friends of NRA fundraising banquets, and numerous other income-generating activities. Lost revenue comes as gun owners need the NRA now more than ever. Gun owners need the NRA to do the heavy lifting in protecting our rights in Congress and at the ballot box, but the NRA also needs our support.
I wonder if there has been a time in the NRA’s long history when we have been tested like this, as we focus on survival during an election year whose results will determine our fate as a free people. We, the NRA members, share a mission to act—to support the Association and pass down our core values to future generations. Now more than ever, the NRA must remain viable and strong.
Our Second Amendment is the most basic symbol of freedom, and the NRA is the reason it remains intact. From every single NRA member to my fellow officers, directors, staff, and all our families, we remain invested in our nation’s future and will rise from this crisis. Generations from now, our great-grandchildren will have history on their side to confirm that as individuals, as an organization, and as a nation, we stood for freedom.
I am blessed to be your NRA president and stand with you as we forge ahead. As defenders of freedom, that is our job. By embracing the faith we have in God, ourselves and one another, we will rebuild the greatest country the world has ever known. And with your help, our NRA will emerge the same way it always has and come out of tough times. Stronger than ever and looking to the future with confidence and resolve.