The National Rifle Association (NRA) has consistently pushed for expanded access to firearms in the United States despite a regular spate of mass shootings.
The gun rights organization has in the past been lauded as one of the most influential advocacy groups in Washington—often, critics say, to the detriment of public safety.
That's why the irony is rich after the NRA announced it had canceled their annual meeting due to "safety concerns."
In an official statement, the organization said rising Covid-19 cases in Texas prompted it to cancel and postpone its annual meeting until further notice.
The NRA said, in part:
"Due to concern over the safety of our NRA family and community, we regret to inform you that we have decided to cancel the 2021 Annual Meeting & Exhibits."
"This cancellation applies to all events and meetings that were scheduled in Houston. We will provide future notification regarding a rescheduled date for the annual Meeting of Members."
"We make this difficult decision after analyzing relevant data regarding Covid-19 in Harris County, Texas. We also consulted with medical professionals, local officials, major sponsors & exhibitors, and many NRA members before arriving at this decision." ...
"The NRA's top priority is ensuring the health and well-being of our members, staff, sponsors, and supporters."
"We are mindful that NRA Annual Meeting patrons will return home to family, friends and co-workers from all over the country,, so any impacts from the virus could have broader implications."
"Those are among the reasons why we decided to cancel our 2021 event."
But many asked since when has the NRA been interested in promoting people's safety?
Given the NRA has influenced legislation, participated in or initiated lawsuits and endorsed candidates on the local and state levels who vowed to keep the gun culture alive, this announcement gave critics a good laugh.
The organization was widely mocked, as was Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott, who has largely opposed restrictions to curb Covid-19.
The situation in Texas has gotten so bad, in fact, a number of gun manufacturers pushed the NRA to cancel its meeting.
The Daily Beast reported prominent gun manufacturers dropped out ahead of the announcement in response to pandemic concerns.
"Most of the largest American gun makers have taken steps to drop out, from informing the NRA that they won't be attending to canceling travel plans."
"These companies include Benelli USA, Browning, FN Herstal, Kimber Manufacturing, Savage Arms, Smith & Wesson, Springfield Armory, Sig Sauer, and Sturm, Ruger & Company, according to people with knowledge of internal communications at these companies."
The cancellation also comes at a time of significant legal jeopardy for the NRA.
Last autumn, Wayne LaPierre, the organization's CEO, was forced to return nearly $300,000 to the NRA in repayment of illicit personal gains, according to a Washington Post report.
Earlier this spring, a Texas judge denied the NRA's attempt to declare bankruptcy in an effort to avoid a lawsuit from the state of New York.
New York sued the NRA in August 2020, arguing misspending and corruption justified dissolving the organization for good.
New York Attorney General Letitia James said at a news conference at the time the lawsuit was announced the NRA "has operated as a breeding ground for greed, abuse and brazen illegality."