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NRA ‘Freedom Cruise’ Takes Donors Down the Danube

Gun group treats patrons to sightseeing, seminars, and “cigar and bourbon nights” (without firearms).
Illustration: Bloomberg

Ever wonder where the gun elite gather to relax, smoke cigars, and discuss Second Amendment esoterica?

The National Rifle Association annually invites donors on a luxury cruise where they can mingle with conservative notables. The 2016 Freedom Cruise in June will take participants along the Danube through Germany, Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary.

Aboard for policy discussions and private receptions will be the NRA’s top official, Wayne LaPierre; Oliver North of Iran-Contra notoriety; former Republican House Speaker and presidential candidate Newt Gingrich and his wife, Callista; Reagan administration Attorney General Edwin Meese III; and Dr. Ben Carson, who until recently was seeking the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

Lt. Col. Oliver North speaks to the crowd at CPAC in National Harbor, Md., on Feb. 26, 2015.

Oliver North.

Photographer: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Cal

“Don’t miss this opportunity to sail along iconic European waterways while attending private speaking engagements,” the NRA’s website says in a promotion. In a YouTube video advertising the trip, North notes that the cruise also features “relaxing cigar and bourbon nights.”

The NRA has invited members of its Ring of Freedom—“freedom-loving individuals, families, or companies who make gifts of $1,000 or more per year to the NRA.” Staterooms for the weeklong excursion run from $4,895 per person for double occupancy to $8,795 for single occupancy. The cruise is co-sponsored by Freedom Alliance, a nonprofit founded by North in 1990 to promote military service and a strong national defense. North promises: “Your tour will be special from start to finish.” 

But not as special as it might be. Strict European gun laws would, under almost all circumstances, prevent guests from carrying firearms. 

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