No One Really Knows What to Expect at NRA Dallas

NRAAM NRA Convention Meeting 2024 Dallas
Courtesy NRA

This year’s NRA Show – the NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits, as it’s properly known – comes against the backdrop of major changes at the top of America’s leading Second Amendment advocacy organization.

At our sister site, The Outdoor Wire, Jim Shepherd has covered this issue extensively from before to the legal proceedings all the way through the trial itself, and we’re all aware of Wayne LaPierre’s unceremonious exit.

The question now is, what kind of NRA are we left with? When it comes to the association’s leadership, there haven’t been many changes in the Board’s Executive Committee. Sure, Marion Hammer’s gone, but others remain, and they show no indication of giving up any power or going away willingly. The board is bitterly divided and this annual meeting might not equal the contentiousness of Indianapolis in 2019, but the potential for a bitter and public fight is very much there.

Are we going to see a return to the same old same old, only this time thinly disguised as a reformist movement? Or will we actually witness a meaningful change in the way the NRA does business? We’ve learned that there’s a lot of money to be had in calling the shots at the top of the NRA, so the same old same old (only rebranded) is quite possible.

Right now it’s anybody’s guess as to which way the organization goes. There are reform-minded candidates running for the Board of Directors that hope to gain some semblance of control over the NRA’s oft-abused purse strings. But a spot on the NRA’s Board is a coveted position one rarely wants to give up.

Which is why the NRA BoD is cause for concern itself. After all it was that lean, fast-moving 76-member body enabled in the NRA’s current troubles by rubber-stamping LaPierre’s free-spending habits. For many on the Board, their support for LaPierre was absolute and unconditional to the point you’d have to pry that rubber stamp from their cold dead hands. Whether the next phase of the NRA’s civil trial in New York will mean they have to give up some of the cold, hard cash they’ve pocketed along the way is a looming question mark, too.

This being an election year, gun owners need the NRA to be back to its old form of political dominance, not handing off all the heavy lifting to the National Shooting Sports Foundation and others in the political sphere. That dominance, however, takes members…and their money, both of which have been reduced in recent years. A Board of Directors that changes little from the one that sat idly by as both the coffers and membership dwindled is a recipe for, well, disaster.

Those who care about Americans’ gun rights don’t need any more of that. And neither does the presumptive Republican nominee, former President Donald Trump. Once again Trump will be speaking to the NRA membership during this year’s conclave in Dallas. His attendance, and the news he makes at the show, will likely energize the throngs in attendance.

Last year thousands waited in line to see and hear Trump speak and it will no doubt be the same this weekend. Hopefully he also makes it out onto the show floor, but that’s always an iffy proposition when it comes to the Secret Service’s security demands.

The exhibit portion of the annual meetings is a great experience if you’ve never had the pleasure of attending. It’s a giant gun show with all the associated gear, apparel, and assorted paraphernalia, most of it for sale…but for the guns, of course.

How business goes on the show floor will be an interesting insight into the industry’s overall sales year. The National Association of Sporting Goods Wholesalers (NASGW) is forecasting 2024 as a relatively flat year. There are areas of modest growth, such as rifles and shotguns, but handguns are predicted to be flat or down as much as 5%.

During NASGW’s March 28th webinar, NASGW and Growth Strategy Partners outlined a data-driven forecast for 2024 that looks like a normal sales year before COVID, political unrest and an election drove record sales numbers.

On the floor of the NRA Show those companies selling will be offering their goods at discounted show pricing. How deep those discounts are may be an indication of how each of those companies is weathering a slow sales year so far. For attendees, though, it’s one of the best times to make a purchase.

Now, how this year’s show sales compare to last year’s, and worse, two years ago, depends how constricted people feel by inflation. For many, the impact of inflation is so bad that a trip to the grocery store is doing more to change voters’ minds than any political ad ever could.

That same lack of economic optimism has its own impact on firearms, ammunition, optics, and other gear sales. The lead-up to the election in November could give sales a significant boost, but it’s not expected to be as much as it may have been in past years.

The 2024 National Rifle Association Annual Meetings & Exhibits could be a jumping-off point, not for a sales surge, which would be unlikely, but for a newfound optimism in the most important organization protecting Second Amendment rights. If members, attendees, and exhibiting companies leave Dallas with a sense of hope that the NRA’s worst days are really behind it – that real change is happening – the outlook on the overall firearm industry’s future will be noticeably brighter.

And we could all due with the feeling of a brighter future right about now.

4 Responses

  1. “Are we going to see a return to the same old same old, only this time thinly disguised as a reformist movement? Or will we actually witness a meaningful change in the way the NRA does business?”

    If there is no *drastic* changes in top-level management announced, with especially all that has happened in recent years, the NRA is *DEAD* to me, and my money.

    Thank God they are no longer the only game in town. The other major gun rights orgs have *seriously* stepped up to the plate, and are carrying our fight forward. Thank you, 2A Foundation and all the other major players doing us proud…

    1. 4 reform candidate elected does not make much of a difference when the board has 76 members. Many of whom were and likely still are LaPierre acolytes. It’s no different than sending 4 reform candidates to Congress. Nothing changes unless the people at the top allow it to change.

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