NRAAM 151: A Celebration Of Freedom Deep In The Heart Of Texas

The extended NRA family gathered together for the 151st NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits in houston.

posted on September 12, 2022
Wayne LaPierre, donald trump, jason ouimet

For the first time in three years, the NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits were held at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas. Despite COVID, and despite having to change the dates, twice, to Memorial Day weekend, 61,254 NRA members rallied to support their association and celebrate our Second Amendment freedom.

This year, with the move to Memorial Day weekend, the NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits paid tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. We honor all those who have served our great nation in uniform, but on this weekend, we especially remember those who gave their lives. We have them to thank, and they remind us that freedom is not free.

Houston annual meetings

But mere days before NRA was scheduled to arrive, the events in Uvalde soon overtook not only the annual event, but also the national stage.

“Before we begin today,” said NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre at the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum, “I want to talk about the evil that occurred at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday. Every NRA member and I know every decent American is in mourning right now. Twenty-one beautiful lives ... ruthlessly and indiscriminately extinguished by a criminal monster. We are with this community and all of America in prayer.

“NRA members are parents. We have sons, daughters and loved ones,” he said. “These tragedies cause gut-wrenching, unimaginable pain that too many are being forced to go through right now. It’s not right. It should never happen.”

For the mainstream media, the story seemed to be about the “hundreds“ of protesters outside, though more than 61,000 NRA members, with their families and friends, stood together in support of NRA and the Second Amendment inside.

This year’s exhibit hall did not disappoint. With acres of guns and gear, there were 637 exhibitors displaying the latest new firearms, but also an outfitters’ section with guides and hunting trips around the world. There were also displays from NRA’s affiliated gun-collecting clubs, where arms from private collections help tell the stories of the guns and those who came before us in educational displays.

On Friday, the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum included addresses from NRA officers, including Wayne LaPierre and NRA-ILA Executive Director Jason Ouimet. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem were joined by NRA Director and North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson. Considering recent events, Gov. Greg Abbott joined the assembled members by video conference. But the real headliner was the 45th President of the United States, Donald J. Trump. The former president was joined by Texan and NRA Certified Instructor Jack Wilson, who ended what could have been an unspeakable tragedy at his church with a single shot. (Excerpts from and more details about the forum are available on the following pages.)

At the 151st meeting of members, officers delivered reports on the state of your association. A resolution proposed by Benefactor member Charles Beers was voted on and passed. It read “Be it resolved that the members of the National Rifle Association of America, in convention assembled, does declare its profound support for the past, present and future leadership of its Executive Vice President, Wayne LaPierre.“

There were a host of other events for NRA members. The women of the NRA were joined at the Women’s Leadership Forum Luncheon and Auction by Virginia Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears. Some of the other highlights included the NRA-ILA Annual Dinner and Auction, which raised money for the difficult Second Amendment fights to come. At the NRA Hunters’ Leadership Forum Dinner, Donald Trump Jr., was bestowed with the 2022 Distinguished Hunters Leadership Award. Patriots of faith gathered Sunday morning to attend the annual NRA Prayer Breakfast to worship and pray together for our nation. Rousing, inspirational speeches came from evangelist Tim Lee, trustee for Liberty University, and Mark Robinson, lieutenant governor of North Carolina.

Dozens of seminars and workshops were offered, mostly free of charge, to NRA members. The included everything from “Sniping in Ukraine Today” by Maj. John L. Plaster to Refuse To Be A Victim seminars, the ILA Grassroots Workshop, as well as talks on everything from concealed carry to long-range marksmanship skills. 

Be sure to join us next year for a three-day celebration of firearms freedom and family like no other. The 152nd NRA Annual Meetings will be held April 14-16 in Indianapolis, Ind. Make your plans now, and we hope to see you there!

NRA annual meetings
In the Exhibit Hall, acres of guns and gear were shown by 637 exhibitors. Re-elected for a second term, NRA President Charles Cotton addressed the assembled members (top). During the Annual Meeting of Members, NRA’s officers­— including First Vice President Lt. Col. Willes Lee (above)—reported on NRA business. The NRA Law Enforcement Officer of Year Award was bestowed on Deputy Tyler Thoman (top, r.) of the Brevard County, Fla., Sheriff’s Department. Thoman’s bravery and courage facing an armed and violent suspect during a traffic stop saved the life of a fellow officer. The oldest and youngest Life members at the 151st Meeting of Members were 95-year-old Herbert Louis of Ohio and Samuel Thomas Bryant of Texas. Maj. John L. Plaster (r.), who spoke on “Sniping in Ukraine Today,” was one of dozens of seminar speakers.


Defender Of Freedom Award Bestowed On, Named For, Potterfields
Larry and Brenda Potterfield, the founders and owners of MidwayUSA (above), were honored with the NRA Defender of Freedom Award. NRA EVP Wayne LaPierre presented the award to them at the NRA Ring of Freedom Celebration, saying, “In fact, there is practically no cause for the betterment of shooting, hunting, wildlife management and firearm freedom that has not been generously supported by this couple. How do you say ‘thank you’ for that?”

The NRA Defender of Freedom Award celebrates and honors an individual or family who inspires and embodies the qualities that define excellence in philanthropic leadership and Second Amendment advocacy. The criteria to receive the NRA Defender of Freedom Award are as follows: major philanthropic impact and distinction; dedication to the Second Amendment and the United States Constitution; spirit of integrity, generosity, respect and strength of character; proud commitment to American values; demonstrated leader, visionary and trailblazer; and, of course, bold defender of freedom.

In addition to being selected for the honor, LaPierre announced a name change to the award. “Today, we are introducing a new NRA distinction that is reserved for the best of the best,” he said. Going forward, the award will carry the Potterfield name: The Larry and Brenda Potterfield NRA Defender of Freedom Award.

“Brenda and I are honored to accept the NRA Defender of Freedom Award from the National Rifle Association,” said Larry Potterfield, MidwayUSA founder and executive chairman. “We give our time and money to the NRA because we believe it is the right thing to do­—the NRA is the foremost guardian of our right to keep and bear arms. We hope others are inspired by our actions to do the same.”

annual meeting honors
(top l.) Texas’ own Jack Wilson was recognized at the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum. An NRA Certified Instructor and a security volunteer at the West Freeway Church of Christ, Wilson stopped a madman and saved lives with a single well-aimed shot. Virginia Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears (top r.), the keynote speaker at the NRA Women’s Leadership Forum, focused heavily on the current state of the country, imploring national harmony. ( btm. l.) NRA Hunters’ Leadership Forum, including HLF’s “Trig” French, recognized Don Trump, Jr., with its NRA 2022 Distinguished Hunters Leadership Award. His brother, Eric, gave the main address, crediting their love of shooting, hunting and the outdoors for much of their success. At the NRA Prayer Breakfast, U.S. Marine veteran and evangelist Tim Lee (below, c.) gave an inspirational speech. At the Corporate Partners Lunch, a rousing message of freedom was delivered by Navy SEAL Mike Thornton (below, r.), who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his bravery in Vietnam. He was also presented with a Henry rifle.


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