The National Rifle Association has canceled a board meeting scheduled for this week in Anchorage.
The meeting would have been the first gathering of America’s largest gun-rights group in Anchorage since 2005, but an internal email obtained by Newsweek indicated that the organization is prioritizing the opposition of congressional legislation intended to prevent mass shootings by restricting firearm ownership.
The board meeting will instead begin Wednesday in Virginia, home to the organization’s headquarters.
The NRA did not respond to emailed questions, and a spokesman who answered the phone said no officials were available to comment, in part because they were busy on Capitol Hill.
Wayne Anthony Ross, a longtime figure in Alaska politics, is also an NRA board member and had worked for four years to bring one of the NRA’s semiannual board meetings to Alaska. The state has the highest per-capita NRA membership in the country, Ross said.
“It’s a great disappointment,” he said of the decision to move the meeting away from Alaska.
“We had it set for starting (Tuesday), and on the 27th I got word that they were canceling it because of what’s going on in Washington,” he said.
As Ross explained, Alaska doesn’t have the facilities to host the NRA’s annual convention — which can attract more than 80,000 visitors — so a board meeting allows the organization’s leaders to meet members in their home territory.
Ross’ son, Greg, said the meeting’s cancellation also means canceling associated events, including a reception and a Friday night banquet. He said about 90 people were expected to travel to Anchorage as part of the meeting. That figure does not include the families of board members who may have traveled with them, he said.
“Obviously, we’re very disappointed that they couldn’t come, and we understand why they have relocated their fall meetings,” Greg Ross said.
The House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday began considering three firearm bills: one encouraging states to create “red flag” laws that allow police to temporarily confiscate a person’s firearms, one banning high-capacity magazines, and one banning gun sales to people convicted of misdemeanor hate crimes.
NRA leaders have also been divided about the organization’s finances and strategy. Earlier this summer, reporting by the Washington Post revealed extravagant spending by some of the organization’s leaders, and there has been pressure to reduce spending.
Wayne Anthony Ross said he intends to renew his push to bring the NRA’s leaders to Alaska.
“I’m not going to give up,” Ross said. “I’m going to get them back when things in D.C. settle down.”