I counted about 120 members attending, just barely a quorum (100). It was probably the smallest members’ meeting in the last century. There was easily space for 300-400, so we have to wonder why the sign-up webpage was turning people away with the claim all seats had been taken. Did the webpage operator just set it to turn everyone else away, or did chosen directors have their friends reserve seats, knowing they would not attend?
Frank Tait moved a resolution calling for resignations of LaPierre, Frazer, Meadows, Cotton, and Willses Lee., which was opposed by director Joel Friedman, who sold out to LaPierre two years ago. The members present (directors and friends, mostly) voted overwhelmingly to duck the issue and not vote on it. The meeting quickly adjourned.
The directors’ meeting was brief. Only 49 were present. Predictably, it re-elected LaPierre and Frazier. Director Phil Journey nominated Rocky Marshall for EVP, but LaPierre was elected 44-2. Board officers now are Charles Cotton, president, Willis Lee, 1st VP, David Coy, 2nd VP. It is remarkable that two of the three (Cotton and Coy) are members of the board’s Audit Committee, which spent the last two years covering up and not auditing anything.
The non-attendance isn’t surprising. Under the past bylaws, NRA had to advertise the members’ meeting in two consecutive issues of the official publications, and the meetings were heavily promoted. The fact that 2,000 to 5,000 members would attend was a boasting point.
Last year the bylaws were changed to require only notice in accord with the law of New York. New York law is written for tiny nonprofits, which most are, and just requires three publications in a newspaper where the nonprofit is headquartered. We could find no such publication, but then received a tip to look in the Fairfax Connection, a tiny (12 page) weekly newspaper. On page 10 of the Sept 16-22 issue, you find
I don’t see anything in the Sept. 9-15 issue, though it is in the Sept 2-8 one. That’s it. For an organization with millions of members, a tiny ad in a tiny local newspaper. Someone must have given that by law some thought, planning for how to make members’ meeting meaningless for future years. And since the ads were run beginning on September 2, and the earlier canceled meeting was canceled August 24, it’s clear the latest planning must have taken place right around when the meeting was canceled, if not before.
To think that NRA could once pride itself on its corporate democracy, its board elected by the members, members able to meet and ask questions of the leadership publicly, with thousands of members showing up. Today’s members’ meeting was no more than a sham and a disgrace.
Along the way, I heard that membership has fallen badly, from 5.5 million to 4.2 million, and this in an era of exploding new gun ownership. That is a disastrous decline, because historically about 1/3 of members were life members. Their money is not stored in a separate account, but it treated as current revenue and spent in the year received, and then the lifers are entitled to benefits (magazines) for the remainder of their life. Annual members would amount to about 2/3 of 5.5, or 3.6 million. A loss of 1.3 million of those means a loss of over a third of the folks who paid dues in 2019.
Update, Shall Not Be Questioned sees something that I missed, with regard the announcements in that tiny Fairfax paper. The September 2-8 issue announced the Houston meeting, which was canceled. So there was really only one announcement, plainly not complying with the New York statute that requires three. They also have some good posts on the meeting and on the fall in participation.