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Gun Manufacturers Are Bailing on the NRA’s Annual Conference Because of the Coronavirus

Next month, the National Rifle Association is expecting to hold its annual conference – which this year also marks the 150th anniversary of the organization’s founding – in Houston, Texas. But with the COVID-19 Delta variant spreading uncontrollably through unvaccinated populations, the NRA will likely wind up staring at empty seats and setting up a vendor ghost town.

Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP/Getty Images

According to text messages that were obtained exclusively by The Daily Beast on Friday, “multiple gun makers are pulling out of the conference and quietly trying to pressure the NRA to cancel it.”

The list contains more than a few names. All of them said that their concerns over the coronavirus had prompted them to bail.

“Most of the largest American gun makers have taken steps to drop out, from informing the NRA that they won’t be attending to cancelling travel plans. These companies include Benelli USA, Browning, FN Herstal, Kimber Manufacturing, Savage Arms, Smith & Wesson, Springfield Armory, Sig Sauer, and Sturm, Ruger & Company,” wrote The Daily Beast.

“Meanwhile,” the publication continued, “the American arms of Italy’s Beretta and Germany’s Heckler & Koch have already positioned themselves to skip the convention, out of concern for the health and safety of staff, but appear to be waiting on the NRA to cancel it to avoid drawing the ire from the powerful industry group and the public, two people familiar with the situation and another source briefed on the matter said. Neither company responded to The Daily Beast.”

Other companies have also decided to skip the nation’s largest gun lobby’s birthday bonanza.

“Two executives at Vista Outdoor, an industry powerhouse that owns several of the most popular ammunition brands—like CCI, Federal, and Speer—told friends they will not go either, according to two people familiar with their decisions. The most popular clothing outfitter in the gun world, 5.11 Tactical, confirmed it will no longer be going and has additionally cancelled plans to attend ‘all national trade shows for the balance of the year out of concern for the health and wellbeing of our employees, customers, and partners,'” The Daily Beast revealed.

Only one manufacturer – O.F. Mossberg & Sons – has confirmed that it still plans to attend, however, “none of the people who spoke to The Daily Beast would speak on the record, with some citing fear of retaliation in an industry that has increasingly become guarded as incidents of gun violence – and calls for additional government controls – have risen over the decades,” the Beast noted in its report.

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