INDIANAPOLIS - As the second morning of the 2019 National Rifle Association Annual Meeting opened at the Indiana Convention Center, huge crowds were already roaming the floor on what is expected to be a big day for the group’s 148th annual meeting.
Already the news is big from the NRAAM with word of an arrest yesterday following a speech by President Donald J. Trump. That was followed up by a claim of extortion and a surprise ouster as Friday night turned into Saturday morning.
With as many as 80,000+ expected to fill the Indiana Convention Center this weekend to see the more than 800 exhibitors on hand, the wild times in Indy were a big topic of conversation among many.
One topic was the speech of President Donald J. Trump on Friday as he stood in the spacious Lucas Oil Stadium to address the NRA Institute for Legislative Action.
In an address that brought the convention to a standstill as thousands listened to the President in person or by way of large video monitors televising his speech, Trump reaffirmed his commitment to protect the Second Amendment along with revoking the United State’s status as a signatory of the U.N. Arms Treaty.
As POTUS took to the stage to deliver his speech, a cell phone was reportedly thrown onto the platform, although a video replay showed it did not come close to hitting the President.
A statement by the U.S. Secret Service on Friday described what happened:
“At approximately 12:30 p.m. (ET) today, President Trump was at an event in Indianapolis, IN. As the President was walking onto the stage, but prior to his remarks, a cell phone from the crowd landed on the opposite side of the stage. An individual was removed from the event and the investigation is continuing.”
Various media outlets reported that law enforcement had identified the alleged cell phone thrower as William Rose, He was reportedly arrested and was said to be receiving a mental health evaluation.
The cell phone toss brought memories to many observers of a similar incident in 2008 when then U.S. President George W. Bush had a shoe thrown at him by an Iraqi journalist during a press conference. After Bush ducked the incoming shoe, the journalist was removed by authorities.
Attention in Indy quickly turned to controversy suddenly rocking the 148th meeting with NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre alleging on Friday that NRA President Lt. Col. Oliver North was “extorting” him to resign.
LaPierre made his allegations by way of a letter to NRA board members, a letter that was obtained by the Wall Street Journal and widely reported by a variety of news organizations.
Hours later, North made the surprising announcement that he was suddenly out as the group’s president. Those remarks came by way of his own letter, read to NRA members on Saturday morning.
“Please know I hoped to be with you today as NRA president endorsed for reelection. I’m now informed that that will not happen,” stated North, who has served as the NRA President since May 2018 when the group met in Dallas.
With his letter read to the group by Richard Childress, the NRA’s second vice president and a six-time NASCAR championship winning team owner and racing hall of fame member, North’s announcement of his power struggle loss was abrupt and unexpected by some.
As he gave his own account of controversy embroiling the group – which North called a clear crisis - he quickly reaffirmed his commitment to the NRA, however.
"I've been on the NRA board for more than two decades," said the 75-year old former Lt. Col. in the U.S. Marine Corps.
"It was a great privilege to serve as your president this past year, an honor second to only serving our country as a U.S. Marine in combat,” he added.
"So if you ever need me in the future, just call me. I will come. Semper Fi."
By midday on Saturday, the show floor was extremely crowded as scores of local and regional residents joined out-of-town convention goers to see the newest offerings from major companies exhibiting at the NRAAM.
There were also plenty of celebrity sightings, including a line at the Glock booth where hundreds gathered for a very lengthy wait to meet and get a photograph with actor Chuck Norris.
Crews of Outdoor Sportsman Group reporters and cameramen were also roaming the floor, as was OSG’s social media team, with numerous articles, videos and social media posts showing what’s new in Indy.
Stay tuned to OSG’s social media accounts, as well as the websites for Game and Fish and Guns & Ammo, all weekend for the latest from the 148th annual meetings of the NRA.