gila 300

by Gila Hayes

Will the third try be the charm? The NRA Annual Meeting has been scheduled for May 27-29, 2022 in Houston, TX, after several attempts to meet during the height of the corona virus pandemic when cancellation indeed seemed a reasonable precaution. Next month, over Memorial Day weekend, the Network hopes to join hundreds of other exhibitors and thousands of visitors gathering in Houston over the holiday.

Mark the date on your calendar and come see us in the exhibit hall if you can. The Network team will be chatting with members and folks who are interested in becoming members in Booth #2331 in the exhibit hall in Houston’s George R. Brown Convention Center. The exhibits are open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday and from 10 to 5 on Sunday.

As we have in years past, we gather our Network Advisory Board of industry leaders in our booth between 5 and 6 p.m. Saturday, May 28th for you to come by and enjoy a visit. If you are in the Houston area over the holiday weekend, we hope you will drop in and chat with us.

We’ve missed seeing you during the pandemic shut down! Last fall, our exhibit display, fixtures and booth furniture were literally on the road in a semi when the plug was pulled on the NRA’s second attempt to hold the 2021 annual meeting. At that point, there remained much contention over the spread of the COVID-19 virus, large gatherings, social distancing, masking, sanitizing, and, as it turned out, we all ended up staying at home in near-quarantine conditions.

It is kind of funny to ponder how health precautions like the containers of hand sanitizer common to public venues, more frequent wipe-downs of surfaces, and all the health and wellness precautions many of us practiced long before the pandemic initially became mandatory and are now expected in public places as we all strive to establish the new “normal.” With government mandates relaxing, we look forward to making up for several year’s worth of the kind of fellowship and sharing we enjoy at the NRA Annual Meeting.

Meanwhile, when we weren’t scurrying around to get our supplies orders in to be sure we were ready to put up our Network exhibit at the end of May, we also had the pleasure of phone visits and email correspondence with many of our Network family members. Some of those contacts have come from our new ad campaign on Gun Talk where we are sponsors of Tom Gresham’s popular Sunday radio program. Enjoy Tom’s live broadcast every Sunday between 2 and 5 p.m. Eastern. If your Sundays are too full for radio, the weekly shows are archived at where you will find a wealth of information and commentary.

Watching a Brutal Lesson

The Russian invasion of Ukraine is generating a lot of discussion about the role of armed population. It is really too bad Putin didn’t have to ask himself whether his forces could defeat thousands of armed Ukrainians shooting from their apartment windows, from their yards, from their alleyways, all determined to kill invading Russian troops. A real life illustration of the likely-fictional World War II quote attributed to Admiral Yamamoto expressing hesitation to invade American soil for fear of “a rifle behind every blade of grass” would have been so much more welcome than the bloodshed of these past few weeks. How I wish the Ukrainians had embraced private gun ownership, marksmanship training, practice and competition 30 years ago when they became independent! They’re trying now! Motivation to learn how rifles work and how to shoot is strong, but comes under awful conditions for learning and retention, to say nothing sorely lacking in opportunities for practice to cement the skills. In Ukraine, we see a harsh lesson about the value of a nation populated by experienced marksmen.

I doubt America’s anti gun politicians and pundits will acknowledge that lesson. Perhaps it will be persuasive to those who are on the fence, or to moms and dads who might otherwise reject a son or daughter’s request to attend a Project Appleseed event to learn rifle marksmanship. Our youngest citizens especially benefit from encouragement to learn to shoot, be that through Appleseed, 4-H, the NRA’s many youth and junior shooter programs, National Shooting Sport Foundation programs, Olympic-style USA Shooting or hunter safety programs taught locally. Gun safety, marksmanship, discipline and personal responsibility are all essential to raising good adult citizens.

We’re seeing the opposite in the Ukraine where defenseless elderly, young mothers, babies and children were murdered in a theater-turned-bomb-shelter and other public places where they gathered when their homes were destroyed. Instead, it would be awe-inspiring to see invading troops forced back by thousands of courageous citizens shooting from windows, down stairwells and corridors or killing and wounding invading soldiers. The Ukrainians are trying, despite huge disadvantages, including unfamiliarity with small arms due to previous severe restrictions on private ownership of guns.

The common anti-gun response is that a tank or airstrike trumps a rifle, and that is particularly true if a community gathers its vulnerable citizens into convenient target locations. Those poor people! I think I’d rather face the Grim Reaper while fighting back instead of cowering in terrified anticipation. That is not to say armed citizens scattered across their neighborhoods and out in the countryside wouldn’t be killed; many would. I have to wonder, though, if the losses would be fewer and perhaps death less horrifying if you weren’t one of hundreds cowering together without any option to fight. 

To read more of this month's journal, please click here.