May 15, 2024 - News

NRA hosts annual meeting in Dallas for first time since 2018

A man in a suit stands behind a lectern

Former President Trump spoke at the last NRA forum in Dallas in 2018. Photo: Smiley Pool/Houston Chronicle via Getty Images

About 75,000 people are expected to attend the National Rifle Association's annual meeting and exhibit this week in Dallas.

Why it matters: The NRA is in transition. Their longtime CEO, Wayne LaPierre, stepped down this year before top officials were set to face a civil trial over fraud and mismanagement allegations.

The big picture: The NRA has about 4 million members but declines to release exact membership figures.

  • About 42% of Americans report having a firearm in their household, per Gallup polling. And 56% want stricter gun laws, though that percentage was higher in the 1990s.

The latest: Former President Trump will be in town Saturday for a free event for NRA members. He has been on trial in New York in a hush money case involving Stormy Daniels.

  • Gov. Greg Abbott will also speak Saturday at the forum.

State of play: Dallas and the state could spend as much as $1 million in incentives to bring the annual meeting here. The city's portion is estimated to be about $138,000, per WFAA.

  • The event was last in Dallas in 2018, when about 80,000 attended and Trump also spoke, per an NRA spokesperson.

How it works: The meeting, events and exhibit are open only to NRA members, but people can sign up for an annual or lifetime membership at the entrance.

  • It's one of the largest gatherings for NRA members, who can peruse new firearms and gear from 650 vendors on the exhibit floor. There are no takeaway sales at the event.

Flashback: Gun reform activists rallied outside Dallas City Hall during the 2018 convention. Gun rights supporters held counterprotests.

  • "Anything about guns right now, I'm just not real excited about," former Mayor Mike Rawlings said at the time. The event was held just days after a Dallas police officer killed outside a Home Depot was buried.

What they're saying: NRA organizers say they aren't aware of any planned protests but support opponents' rights to assemble.

  • "We support the First Amendment, just as we support the Second Amendment," NRA spokesperson Nick Perrine tells Axios.

If you go: The event is Thursday through Sunday. The annual meeting is at 10am-12pm Saturday. The leadership forum — where Trump and Abbott will speak — is from 2-4pm Saturday. The forum is free for NRA members.

  • It will be Trump's ninth time addressing an NRA event.
  • The U.S. Secret Service is handling security during Trump's visit. Firearms or weapons will not be allowed where Trump is speaking.
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