Save Republicans from Themselves & Knee-Jerk Gun Control – Act NOW!

A couple of mentally defective losers decide they want to be famous as killers, and Republican politicians are once again responding by shooting themselves – and their party – in the foot. If they don’t get themselves under control in a hurry, they are going to do irreparable damage to their chances in 2020.

President Trump is offering suggestions on how to pass gun control laws and particularly pushing deadly “red flag” laws. Republicans in the House and Senate are pledging to vote for various gun control laws if they are brought to a vote. Governor Ducey in Arizona has revived his “pre-crime disarmament,” STOP bill that helped kill the political aspirations of several promising Republicans in 2018, and the list goes on.

Your action is needed now. Republicans, from Trump on down, need to hear from you immediately. They need to hear from you in email, phone calls, on their social media accounts, and at any live events during their August recess.

Don’t wait. Contact them now. Remind them that only foolish politicians react to events, based on emotion and their immediate perception of public sentiment. Tell them that they should be sticking to the principles that brought them to the party. Appeasing people who aren’t ever going to vote for them, regardless of what they do – short of switching parties – is just dumb.

Alienating a large segment of their base, that was going to vote for them, and work for their campaigns, and bring their families along, is even dumber.

Gun control laws didn’t stop lunatics before, and they won’t stop lunatics in the future. Criminalizing private sales and transfers of firearms was a bad idea last week and last year, and it’s still a bad idea.

Taking guns away from someone because someone else said they were crazy and dangerous – rather than taking the crazy dangerous person away from all potentially harmful objects and getting them some professional help – was a dangerous, unconstitutional idea last week and last year, and it’s still a dangerous, unconstitutional idea.

Banning scary-looking firearms that are safely owned by millions of Americans and which function the same as guns that have been readily available for 100 years, didn’t work between 1994 and 2004, and it won’t work in the future – and those millions of American gun owners aren’t going to put up with attempts to take them away.

Mass shootings and mass murders are terrible tragedies that make all sane people sad, angry, and frustrated. Passing unconstitutional laws that won’t and can’t prevent such tragedies, is no sort of rational response.

Contact your elected servants today. Reach out to them via every means at your disposal, and let them know that you and your family recognize that they are under extreme pressure to “do something,” but that pushing gun control laws – expanded background checks, “red flag” laws, “assault weapons” bans, or any other infringement on the right to arms – will cost them and their party your votes. Remind them that many GunVoters were already suspicious of Republicans, but we’re going to support the party as a blocking move against anti-rights Democrats, but Republicans rushing to gun control will kill that tenuous arrangement, resulting in many GunVoters foregoing the elections, and seriously hurting Republican chances.

Call the Congressional Switchboard at 202-224-3121. Find your Senators and representatives at www.Senate.gov and www.House.gov, and send them messages, then find their local office numbers and call those. Find them on Facebook and Twitter, and link them to this article. Finally, share this article on all social media and with all of your friends who value their rights.

The U.S. doesn’t have a gun problem. The U.S. has a crazy problem. Gun laws won’t fix that.

Five Questions for 73 Remaining NRA Board Members

Three dedicated, hard-working, thoroughly committed NRA directors have resigned their seats in protest of the leadership’s heavy-handed tactics, and the inability to gain access to information critical to them fulfilling their fiduciary responsibilities. Ester Schneider, Tim Knight, and Sean Maloney tendered their resignations this morning, and they were, I suspect, gleefully accepted by President Carolyn Meadows. I’m very disappointed to see them go, but know that they will continue the fight.

These resignations of 3 of the six directors who have had the gumption to call for an independent audit of the association, highlight the core issue that all of this wrangling boils down to ~ The issue of trust.

Whether or not Wayne LaPierre participated in the financial misdeeds that were clearly going on at the NRA for well over a decade… Whether or not he has been correcting the ship over the past year or so… And whether or not LaPierre is personally orchestrating the obstruction and stonewalling that’s going on… The fact is, the original lawsuit against Ackerman McQueen, is, all by itself, a public confession that the Association management was not being prudent and responsible with the members’ money. That, along with the wide array of evidence that has come out regarding conflicts of interest, nepotism, cronyism, and clear incompetence in the case of Carry Guard™, combine to form a damning indictment of the man at the top, who was tasked with overseeing all of those things, and of the board of directors that was tasked with overseeing the man at the top. LaPierre must bear the responsibility. That’s where the buck stops.

There’s no doubt that this scandal has damaged the trust relationship between the NRA and its members, and seriously damaged the NRA’s brand. Now the question is, what course can restore trust and revive the brand the fastest and most effectively. Doggedly insisting that all is well while supporting the person responsible for the damage and loss of trust, is a failing strategy. Insisting that only LaPierre can save us and that without him, the NRA will fall, resulting in Donald Trump losing the presidency, and Republicans crashing in 2020, is simply ludicrous. But that’s the public position being advanced by LaPierre loyalists on the NRA board. (See “What’s Really Going On Inside NRA Operations” by Director Scott Bach)

Ronald Reagan famously said; “Trust, but verify.” That’s as good an idea in business and effective nonprofit organizations, as it is in nuclear disarmament. If we, the members and supporters of the NRA, are going to trust the NRA and its leadership, we must verify that our money is being spent wisely and responsibly. To that end, it is imminently practical and reasonable for the board to commission an independent audit of the NRA, with special attention being paid to areas of particular concern, such as fundraising, executive compensation, conflicts of interest among staff and directors, and legal expenses.

Rather than answer the recent spate of myopic excuse-making from various members of the NRA Board of Directors, I’d like to invite those, and all of the remaining 73 directors, to answer five simple questions:

  • 1. Why does Josh Powell still have a job at the NRA after his thorough bungling of Carry Guard™?
  • 2. How is it even remotely possible for a law firm with only about 10 attorneys and a total of 30 to 40 employees, to validly bill between $90,000 and $100,000+ PER DAY for their services?
  • 3. Have you personally reviewed the documentation related to the issues raised by Emily Cummins in her briefing notes for the Audit Committee and her letter regarding William Brewer, or have you simply taken someone’s word for it that these things have been “reviewed, vetted, and approved?
  • 4. What do you expect the response would be if you asked to see this information or publicly supported the idea of ordering an independent audit?
  • 5. What possible, rational reason can you offer for Wayne LaPierre blocking any sort of independent audit of the Association’s books and business practices?

As I said in the opening of this column, everything going on at the NRA boils down to trust. Do the members trust the leadership? I would submit that it is obvious that a large percentage do not.

Whether that mistrust is founded in rational thought, irrational emotion, or some sort of vast left-wing conspiracy, is irrelevant. What matters is that there is a trust deficit that must be addressed if the NRA is to move forward. Reassurances from directors and dire warnings about potential political consequences, will not restore trust. Casting aspersions on those of us asking questions and calling for transparency, will not restore trust. Neither will suing everyone who dares to challenge the status quo.

What will restore trust, is openness and honesty – verified by documentation.

I personally believe that Wayne LaPierre should have resigned long ago, and if he truly cared about the NRA and its mission, he would have fallen on his sword the moment the allegations of impropriety (which have never been refuted, or in large part, even denied, by the way) were made public. No one is irreplaceable. It is ridiculous to think that major donors only give what they do because of their relationship with Wayne LaPierre. That would be remarkably shallow of them. Sure, those relationships – that trust – matter, but in the final analysis, it’s the mission, not the man, that motivates people. Had Wayne stepped down sooner, he could have maintained those relationships and continued to support the cause, but now he’s tainted himself and thrown mud on everyone around him, seriously compromising both his personal reputation, and that of the Association. That’s a tragic shame, and the only way to regain the trust that has been lost is to earn it, through diligent work, full disclosure, and holding people accountable for their actions.

Donald Trump is not going to lose his bid for reelection due to the dysfunction within the NRA, and declaring that he will, is not going to solve the NRA’s credibility gap.
Letitia James, the NY AG, is not going to be prevented from conducting a full audit of the NRA, by bogus lawsuits or personal endorsements from supporters of LaPierre. She has the full authority, under New York law, to examine all aspects of the NRA’s operations, and you can bet she’s going to exercise that authority with a vengeance. Conducting an independent audit in advance of her assault would not be detrimental to the NRA’s cause. It would not provide her with ammunition that she couldn’t get anyway, nor would it expose anything that she’s not going to find. What it would do, is provide the NRA Board with the opportunity to identify problems, correct those problems, and address issues of accountability, before she and her audit team come in.

I predicted this situation back in April, before the Members’ Meeting in Indianapolis, and advised that the board needed to take immediate steps to clean their house, identify any questionable actions, and correct them, and distance the Association from those responsible for those questionable actions. I pointed out that everyone at the NRA should know that they are under a magnifying glass, and must shun even the appearance of evil. The board didn’t take my advice then, but they had better take it now.

Get your house in order. Regain the trust of the membership. That starts with identifying the areas that need work, and that means an independent audit.

What No One On The NRA Board Of Directors Is Saying

Amid the claims and counter-claims, suits and counter-suits, and all of the other nonsense swirling around the National Rifle Association these days, something significant has been missing.

While our new NRA brass like President Meadows, Vice President Cotton, Vice President Lee, and directors like Marion Hammer, Tom King, and Joel Friedman have repeatedly told us that everything that Wayne and his cohorts have done was “reviewed, vetted, and approved,” what none of them, nor any other member of the board has said, is “I knew all about that, examined it, and approved it before it was done.”

They all seem happy to insist that there’s nothing to see here, so move along, and anyone asking questions is a traitor to the cause. The NRA leadership insists collectively that “the board knew,” and “the board approved” things…. But so far no one has stepped up to claim personal, direct knowledge or responsibility for what has been going on, nor have they explained exactly what it was that was “reviewed, vetted, and approved.”

Is President Meadows saying that she knew about and approved payment of over $4,000 per month for a luxury apartment for an intern? Was Vice President Cotton personally aware of and did he approve Wayne LaPierre buying $30,000 worth of clothing – on our tab – from a swanky, Beverly Hills clothing store in one day? Did Vice President Lee directly approve LaPierre’s $274,000 shopping sprees from that same-store over a period of years?

If they knew about it and approved it, why wasn’t it reported on the Association’s tax forms as compensation to LaPierre? And since it apparently was not reported as required by law, are those directors who vetted and approved all of that, ready to pay the penalties out of their own pockets?

Are NRA officials saying that they personally “reviewed, vetted, and approved” payments from the NRA Foundation to charities that have nothing to do with firearms or firearms education, in violation of the Foundation’s charter? Are they saying that they personally “reviewed, vetted, and approved” having NRA executives and their spouses working for, and receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars from NRA vendors? Are they saying that they have personally “reviewed, vetted, and approved” the details of the services and payments being made to attorney William Brewer and his firm?

At the same time that the above-mentioned officers and directors have been telling us that “the board knew all about these things” and that “the board reviewed, vetted, and approved” everything. At least a dozen different members of the board have told me personally that they didn’t know anything about a wide variety of the activities that were going on at headquarters. Or that they have not seen any detailed explanation as to what precisely the NRA is getting for the 2 million dollars a month, or so, that NRA is paying to the Brewer law firm. Those directors who have had the temerity to ask to see any of that information have been called “unprofessional,” been denied committee assignments, and been threatened that they won’t be renominated by the Nominating Committee.

Just a few months ago, President Meadows herself, signed onto a letter demanding a comprehensive review of Brewer’s invoices and services, but now she is punishing and marginalizing any director who dares to ask for that same information. Since her election, she has insisted that every director has always had full access to all of the information on everything going on at the NRA and within the various committees and that if they don’t know something, it’s their own fault for being lazy or incompetent. But then she and her cohorts in leadership, punish and publicly chastise any director who asks for more information.

The argument now appears to be that certain directors can’t be given access to certain, “highly sensitive” information, because those directors aren’t trustworthy and might be secretly working for an enemy of the Association. Meanwhile, the criteria to determine who is worthy of trust is whether they are asking questions or requesting more information.

How’s that for a Catch-22?

Many NRA members have been challenging directors with uncomfortable questions over the past couple of months, primarily whether the director supports replacing Wayne LaPierre as Executive Vice President. That’s a good question, but it leaves lots of weasel room. Better questions would be things like:

“Did you personally know about and approve paying Wayne LaPierre an extra $274,000 under the table, for Italian suits, on top of his $1.4 million compensation package and expense account?”

“Have you personally reviewed the work and working agreement for William Brewer and approved paying his firm $100,000 per day?”

“Do you support stripping committee assignments from board members who ask questions about how the Association’s resources are being spent?”

Actually, NRA directors should be asking themselves these questions, and they should be paying their own lawyers to ask them too and help them formulate some excellent answers because it’s looking like they are about to be asked by other lawyers – in court.

A group of NRA members, lead by well-healed NRA donor David Dell’Aquila, has launched a plan to return transparency and accountability to the NRA. They started by withholding funds and pledged donations in the millions of dollars. Now they’ve published a report card grading directors’ performance, along with a letter strongly suggesting that directors have only a narrow window in which to demonstrate that their loyalty lies with the NRA membership, not with any individual or group within the board or the staff.

It seems pretty clear to me that Dell’Aquila and his group are planning to file suits against individual directors for failing to fulfill their fiduciary obligations to the members. Even though the NRA maintains an exorbitant amount of liability insurance for directors, New York law allows individual directors to be held accountable if they are negligent or corrupt in the performance of their duties.

This should be causing some serious concern for those directors who have just been going along to get along, and even more for those that have been riding the gravy train.


A brief disclaimer:

Some 23 years ago, my father tried to correct a problem he saw growing within the NRA, and he failed. He was pushed out of the leadership of the organization and eventually dropped from the board. I have some hard feelings about that, but I try very hard not to let my personal feelings shade my judgment or my reporting. For me, as it was for my father, the critical issue is that the NRA be strong, effective, and true to the principles of the Bill of Rights.

Each time I write one of these articles reporting on issues inside the NRA, I am accused of squeezing sour grapes and grinding my dad’s old ax. I’ve also been accused of “attacking the NRA” for my own financial gain.

FirearmsCoalition.org
FirearmsCoalition.org

It’s reasonable to believe that my own experience and feelings might color my view of the happenings within the NRA, and it’s reasonable to take my reporting with that grain of salt. If you see some fact that is incomplete, or that might be interpreted in a different, less negative light, perhaps that’s my bias showing through, but please don’t discount the facts. Do your own research, and if you ever find that I’m unfair or inaccurate, please provide details in the comment section.

As to me benefiting financially off of my “NRA bashing,” I sure wish that were true because I could use the money. The reality is that I get paid very little for my articles, and typically see a bump in contributions to my organization of about $40 to $100 dollars whenever I publish one of these pieces. That’s nice, but it’s not going to pay for a new Italian suit. I’m pretty sure that GOA and SAF get significantly more financial support from the readers at Ammoland.com than The Firearms Coalition does, as is typically evident in the comment section, where there is invariably a slew of comments saying something like; “Jeff’s right. I’m sending my donations to GOA.” Or SAF. Or FPC….

I feed my family with the words I write, but I don’t write for the money. I write for the cause.

Democratic Presidential Hopefuls Embrace Party of Infringement

The first round of Democratic Presidential Debates is over, and the first casualty has been listed. Gun control zealot, Rep. Eric “Nuke’em if they won’t turn them in” Swalwell, dropped out shortly after the first debate.

The second round is on the way, as the large – and growing – field of candidates continues to jockey for position. During the first debates, the candidates made it pretty clear that even the most “moderate” of their number, are seeking support from the far-left, socialist/communist, anti-rights element of the Democratic base.

This makes sense because this is the most vocal and vindictive segment of the party, credited, in large degree, with abandoning Hillary Clinton, resulting in Donald Trump’s victory. It’s not all just political gamesmanship though. A couple of these candidates may be just pandering to the hard-left, while actually holding positions that are more moderate, but it appears that the majority has committed to “progressive” policy positions like free healthcare for illegal immigrants, decriminalization of “undocumented border crossing,” and taxpayer funding of student loan payoffs and healthcare costs.

And while these positions might be unpopular among the majority of GunVoters, they are, of course, not the issues that are most important to us.

What really matters to Second Amendment advocates is their positions on the right to arms, and the lengths to which they are willing to go to advance those positions.

While not all of the candidates in the debates got a chance to express themselves on Second Amendment matters, those that did, were frankly frightening, and the others took no opportunity to offer any push-back on the radical ideas that were put forward. All of the candidates have publicly embraced the basic gun control planks of the Democratic Party platform: banning “assault weapons,” criminalizing private firearm transfers, and confiscating guns based on unsubstantiated claims of a family member, angry ex, or feuding neighbor. Most have called for even more extreme measures, and it’s pretty clear that, if elected, any would immediately sign any gun control bill that might make its way through Congress.

Several, like Sen. Kamala Harris, have declared their intention to use executive orders, if Congress fails to give them the gun control they want.

In the debates, Joe Biden, the current Democratic Party’s version of a “moderate,” was representative of the entire field when he declared that the “enemy” is the firearms industry. Biden, who has in the past pointed to his expensive Italian, over-and-under shotgun as proof that he supports the Second Amendment, sponsored a ban on “assault weapons” during his time in the U.S. Senate, and as Barack Obama’s VP, was the administration’s point-man on gun control. During the debates Biden agreed with others that there should be a mandatory government “buy back” of scary semi-auto rifles, then suggested that it should be illegal to sell any gun in the United States that isn’t equipped with mythical “smart gun” technology, to prevent it being used by anyone not authorized to do so.

In classic Biden style, “Uncle Joe” said; “No gun should be able to be sold unless your biometric measure could pull that trigger.” (Can your biometric measure pull a trigger Joe?)

While Biden might be an expert of sorts on “biometrics,” he’s got no clue about guns or economics. But ignorance of the basics never stopped a gun control zealot before, so why should we expect logic and fact-based rationality to guide them now? Even a conservative estimate for “buying back” the 16 million or more “assault-style rifles” currently in circulation places the cost at around 10 billion dollars, and that’s just paying for the guns, not the cost of administering or executing the plan, not to mention the cost in human lives lost or destroyed in the process as formerly law-abiding gun owners are turned into outlaws at the stroke of a pin. If you think it can’t happen, consider that fewer than a thousand semi-automatic rifles have been turned in by somewhat compliant Kiwis in New Zealand.

Don't Nuke Me Bro Get Your Tee
Don’t Nuke Me, Bro, Get Your Tee

As to “smart guns,” you first, Joe. Order your Secret Service security detail to only carry “smart guns.” After they have proven their efficacy, move on to mandating “smart guns” for all police and licensed security personnel, Hollywood bodyguards, and such. Maybe after that, we’ll consider a thoughtful discussion about bringing them into the public market as a serious option.

The other candidates who got a chance to talk about gun control, seemed to be competing for the title of “Most Anti-Rights,” though none could top Swalwell’s past threat to nuke non-compliant gun owners. Now that he’s out of the race though, the others will no doubt continue pushing his idiotic ideas.

In the entire field of 25 “credible” candidates, only three have ever said anything supportive of the right to arms, all while they were running for, or holding offices in heavily pro-gun jurisdictions. All three of those candidates have publicly repudiated those statements, now that they are seeking higher office. I don’t know which is worse, a politician with a long record of opposition to the right to arms, or one who “used to believe” in the right to arms, but abandoned that position when their political ambitions dictated.

At this point, it is pretty clear that GunVoters will have a choice in 2020 between a Republican who has betrayed us while claiming to support the Second Amendment and might do so again, and a Democrat who has promised to work to criminalize our rights actively. Given the importance of court appointments and the good that has been done in that regard over the past three years, I think GunVoters must choose the “maybe” over the “definitely,” but much more important will be making sure that whoever is in the White House, doesn’t have an anti-rights-dominated, Democrat-controlled House and Senate to work with. That would be a very bad thing for individual rights.

A Call for New-Blood Candidates for NRA BoD

The NRA is in trouble. Continuing to elect the same people who keep making the same mistakes, is not going to solve the problems. We need new ideas, new perspectives, and new approaches. That means we need new people on the NRA Board of Directors.

Do you know individuals who are qualified?

The NRA Board of Directors only meets four times a year. They are tasked with setting policy for the organization and overseeing the proper execution of those policies on behalf of the members, including ensuring that money is raised and spent responsibly. This responsibility is officially reported as requiring about one hour per week from each director, but actually fulfilling the role will probably take much more time than that.

The Bylaws list a minimal set of qualifications, but the real qualifications go well beyond the minimums listed in the Bylaws.

First and foremost, an NRA Director must have an understanding of – and dedication to – the principles of liberty, as described in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. An NRA Director must be a Second Amendment absolutist who recognizes that rights cannot be compromised or bartered. Political pragmatism has a place as a short-term tactic, but the NRA must never put political considerations above the core principles our nation and our organization were founded upon. Every NRA Director must be well-versed in that history and those principles, which must be the foundation for every decision made as a director.

Second, a Director must bring to the Board some professional-level expertise about business, finance, fundraising, membership organizations, politics, or some other topic that may affects the Association and might require a Board policy directive. No one can be an expert in every topic, but every Board member should be an expert in his or her particular field and be able to assist the other Directors in developing a well-grounded policy on that topic.

Finally, an NRA Director must be widely recognized as honorable and respected members of the firearms community. That doesn’t necessarily mean having a wall of trophies, but guns and shooting should be an important part of any Director’s life, whether it be focused on hunting, target shooting, or collecting.

The best candidates are people who have had leadership roles in state or local organizations, while also building or working for successful businesses, or other complementary careers. The ability to effectively speak in public, or experience lobbying politicians, can be useful, but it’s not critical, and that ability or experience doesn’t trump the qualifications listed above.

Good candidates are typically going to be older individuals with significant amounts of experience under their belts, but that does not mean that there isn’t a place for younger candidates who have earned the respect of the community by demonstrating their commitment and abilities. To the contrary, it is critical that the organization have representation from a wide variety of individuals with diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and skill-sets to offer.

Candidates must be nominated either by the Nominating Committee [tightly controlled by insider board members] or by petition of fellow members. It takes signatures from the equivalent of 0.5% of the number of ballots cast in the preceding BoD election, this year that’s about 730 valid signatures from NRA members who are eligible to vote. That might not seem like all that many, after all, there are hundreds of people at gun shows every weekend, but the catch is the “eligible to vote” clause. There are around 100 million gun owners in the U.S., but only about 5.5 million NRA members, and only about half of those members are eligible to vote in NRA elections. That means that among any 100 random gun owners, only about 5 will be NRA members, and only 2 or 3 will be eligible to sign a nominating petition. So, even at a gun show or a busy range, you’ll have to ask about 2,000 people, in order to find 100 eligible voters – and then you have to get their NRA Member Number. Do you carry your NRA membership card or a mailing label from your NRA magazine around with you? Most people don’t. That means that the signature gatherer will have to do some followup to try and collect that information. In the end, it will typically require talking to at least 16,000 people, in order to find 730 NRA members eligible to sign the petition, but many of those won’t sign, because they don’t know enough about the candidate, and aren’t willing to take the time to learn.

There’s no question, getting the valid signatures needed to qualify a petition, is a whole lot of work to go through just to get your name on a ballot to run for a thankless job that pays nothing. Still, last year, past-President Marion Hammer had the temerity to suggest that someone nominated by petition of the members is somehow suspect, and unworthy of the members’ trust.

Of course, getting the petition signatures is only the first hurdle, then comes the matter of being elected. The elections are held by mail among all 2.5 million NRA Voting Members, but only a small segment (historically less than 7%) of those members actually cast a ballot, and the vast majority of those who do vote, get all of their information about the candidates exclusively from NRA magazines – which of course, are controlled by the NRA establishment. This gives incumbents a huge advantage that is very difficult to overcome.

But the current members of the Board of Directors is never going to make the changes needed to make the NRA the principled, effective, organization that the members deserve, so changing the Board has to be the first step in restoring the NRA, and that’s going to take at least 3 or 4 years, even if we’re wildly successful.

Do you know people with the principle, integrity, and experience willing to take on this challenge? Are you ready to go to work to help get them elected? It might be too late for the next election, but there’s one every year, and we need to be ready. Reach out to me or the folks at Savethe2A.org, and let’s get started.

You Are the Gun Lobby & You Need to Act Like It

With all of the hubbub over the mess at the NRA, now seems like a good time to remind everyone that YOU are the Gun Lobby.

This is a theme I have come back to again and again in the 13+ years that I have been writing about Second Amendment issues and leading The Firearms Coalition, and even before that. In a speech on the Arizona Capitol grounds earlier this year, I said that the gun lobby “is not a bunch of overpaid suits in Washington D.C. … if the NRA disappeared tomorrow, the Gun Lobby would still be just as powerful, because it’s not the NRA, it’s NRA members and tens of millions of other dedicated patriots just like you.”

In retrospect, those comments, which were very similar to comments I made at a rally in the Capitol Rotunda in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania over a decade ago, seem somewhat prophetic, especially considering Wayne LaPierre’s $276k clothing bills, but the point has always been true. All of the NRA’s power, prestige, money, and influence flow directly from you and me and people like us. While the NRA is a useful tool, it is not the source of power or influence. You are.

It is particularly important for everyone to understand that the ugly mess facing the NRA today has the organization crippled, and it will remain crippled for some time into the foreseeable future.

But the gun lobby must continue to be strong.

Even if the NRA “leadership” allows the last of our dollars to bleed out into the pockets of lawyers and charlatans, even if the organization allows itself to be torn down by politicians and bureaucrats, the gun lobby must continue to be strong.

With the NRA distracted and in disarray, it’s critical for you, the Gun Lobby, to take personal responsibility for protecting your rights. You can’t rely on the NRA, or any other group, to do the heavy lifting for you. You must roll up your sleeves and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with your neighbors to ensure that the radical rights opponents don’t flush your children’s and grandchildren’s birthright down the toilet.

After decades of a slow erosion of our rights, and occasionally regaining small bits of ground, we stand on the brink. The slippery slope is only inches wide, with nothing but a sheer cliff beyond it. The Democrats have given their party fully over to a “progressive” philosophy of total government control and citizen subservience, with a government monopoly on arms being one of their primary goals. Until saner heads regain control of that party, it is critical that they are defeated.

We, as defenders of freedom and lovers of liberty, can no longer afford to hang back and lend our support only to the cream of the solid, pro-rights candidates. At this point, the Democratic Party has taken that luxury away from us. Now our only option is to work for their defeat, regardless of the individual stands of their candidates or their opponents. Right now, it’s all about majorities – in Congress, in state legislatures, and on county boards and city councils. Even in states with low crime, and strong traditions of firearm freedom, like Maine and Vermont, Democrat majorities are pushing agendas of draconian gun control, simply because they can, and because Bloomberg and the Giffords’ group keep dumping millions into local elections, in support of radical Democrat, rights restrictors.

These assaults on our rights must be answered with votes. Gun owners can’t rely on the NRA to do it for us. We never could, but it’s more true and urgent now than ever before.
Too many times our guys got mad at Republicans for failing to deliver on promises, or for foolishly making concessions to the rights opponents, and stomped off in a huff, refusing to vote, or voting for third-party candidates with zero chance of winning. That’s how we got eight years of Barack Obama, and most recently, it’s how we lost the House of Representatives in 2018.

That absence from the field provided proof to Bloomberg and Democrat strategists that the power of the gun lobby and GunVoters was just a myth. They successfully painted GunVoter frustration with broken promises, as apathy and impotence, because we allowed vocal, gun control advocates to be elected with little opposition from our disgruntled troops.

They think we’re powerless, and they think that without big bucks and coordination from the NRA, we can’t be serious players in the political arena. It’s up to you to prove them wrong.

Political power lies in the ability to impact politicians’ most precious asset: the ability to be elected. Conventional wisdom says that can only be done with huge amounts of money spent on advertising, but conventional wisdom is wrong. We don’t need advertising, because we have the numbers we need already. All we need is for our fellow gun owners and rights advocates to stand up and get involved. Every one of us must engage in the battle, working for the candidates who are going up against the radical gun control zealots — defeating the party of gun control, by working for the party that isn’t dedicated to taking away our guns.

We must do this, even if the Republican candidate isn’t great on our issue, because right now, Democrats have declared war on our rights. The only way to change their position, and to wake up the squishy Republicans, is for GunVoters to turn out in droves, putting up signs, making phone calls, walking neighborhoods, and making sure that everyone in their family, their friends, their entire sphere of influence, is informed and activated to defeat those who oppose the Bill of Rights.

We didn’t make this a partisan fight, Democrats did. We’ll never make them change their minds by sitting on the sidelines or punishing weak-kneed Republicans by going hunting on Election Day. We must get busy, get involved, and demonstrate in November that the gun lobby is indeed alive and well, and we won’t tolerate open assault on our rights.

What’s Really Going On at the NRA?

The news and drama flowing out of the NRA keep running at a pace that makes it difficult to keep up with, much less write about them. As I write this, I have three other almost completed articles that have been abandoned as new revelations have made them largely obsolete. Here’s hoping that this one will make it all the way to the publisher before some new revelation bursts onto the scene.

So what’s really going on? I don’t think anyone actually knows – not even the primary players. That’s because there are just too many moving parts, and too many different agendas and potentially hidden motives, all intertwined.

Keeping track of what’s going on is not helped by the obfuscation and disinformation being deployed as a tactic by some players. Also not helping are the various partisan keyboard warriors who either have reading comprehension problems, or are purposefully distorting and misrepresenting information for the purpose of either propping up, or tearing down Wayne LaPierre.

If this story were fiction being written by John Grisham, we would all discover in the end that the main characters of the drama – LaPierre, Ackerman McQueen, and William Brewer, the lawyer brought in to manage the whole mess by LaPierre (who happens to be Angus McQueen’s son-in-law) – were all in league, with their only purpose being to suck every last dollar out of the NRA before it sinks into obscurity.

While I don’t actually think that’s the case, that scenario seems less far-fetched every day.

As of today, Ackerman McQueen has declared that they are formally withdrawing from all NRA-related activities, claiming that the NRA has made it impossible for them to fulfill their contractual obligations [primarily because of budget cuts made by the NRA board at their last meeting]. This would include shutting down NRA TV, and America’s First Freedom magazine, both of which are controlled and produced by Ack-Mac. This announcement will undoubtedly be followed by additional lawsuits from both parties, with each claiming that the other is in breach of contract.

Of course there are already three separate suits between NRA and Ack-Mac. The first was filed by NRA against Ack-Mac just days prior to the NRA Annual Meetings in Indianapolis last April. That suit demanded that Ack-Mac produce detailed billing invoices for charges they had billed to NRA, and also demanded more information about the employment contract entered into last year between Ack-Mac and then NRA President Ollie North.

Shortly after the close of the meetings, a second suit was filed by NRA against Ack-Mac, accusing the PR company of intentionally leaking confidential documents for the purpose of harming the NRA and its leaders. That suit demands $40 million in compensation, and was quickly answered with a suit from Ack-Mac against the NRA, demanding $50 million for sullying Ack-Mac’s good name. The “confidential documents” that were “leaked,” primarily consisted of a pair of letters and supporting documentation, snarkily responding to NRA’s initial suit by asking for details and receipts for expenses that NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre charged to Ack-Mac. LaPierre’s expenses included over $276,000 charged to a high-end clothing store in Beverley Hills over a span of fifteen years, and another $270k on a number of very expensive plane tickets, limo service, and meals in exotic locales. LaPierre also billed to Ack-Mac several months worth of rent for a high-end luxury apartment near NRA headquarters, apparently on behalf of an attractive summer intern.

Official NRA has made no denials of the accuracy of the charges, saying only that “most” of the travel was related to official business, and suggesting that LaPierre’s frequent personal and TV appearances warrant some attention to his wardrobe.

Many LaPierre defenders have opined that since the charges occurred over about a 15-year period, the average of $33,300 dollars per year doesn’t seem extravagant for a person in LaPierre’s position. What these apologists fail to note is that Mr. LaPierre was paid between $800,000 and $1.4 million each year during that period, and also had a generous expense account on top of that. For him to then spend $20,000 to $30,000 or more per year on clothes alone, and charge those expenses to the PR company, rather than his direct NRA expense account, is not only excessive, but suggests he was intentionally hiding the charges. There is no indication that these personal benefits were included in any of the NRA’s tax statements, and it is pretty doubtful that they were included on LaPierre’s personal income taxes either.

The new NRA President and Vice Presidents [including AmmoLand New’s endorsed Board Member Wiles Lees as 2nd VP], have put out a couple of letters claiming that the NRA Board of Directors was fully aware of all of the reported charges, and had an opportunity to fully discuss them, but numerous directors have disputed those claims, saying that they only saw some of the material after it was leaked to the press, and that the only opportunity they’d had to discuss the issues that were brought up to them, was cut short by the leadership. None would go into specifics, so this was obviously during the marathon, closed-door board meeting in April. It is considered a serious ethics violation for any director to discuss events that occur in a closed meeting, so they are extremely cautious to avoid such disclosures. None of the directors I spoke with reported receiving any new information from leadership on the various issues since that meeting adjourned.

Meanwhile, NRA members have been paying the Brewer law firm between $1.5 million and $2+ million per month for over a year now, and board members who have requested an audit of those charges have been stymied.

Allen West Headshot
LTC Allen West

Lieutenant Colonel Allen West, a former congressman who was elected to the board several years ago, after being nominated by petition of the members, was widely suggested as an alternative to LaPierre prior to the April board meeting, but for some reason his name was apparently never offered into nomination during the meeting. (We have still not received any explanation as to why those elections were not held during the open portion of that meeting.) West is one of the only directors to publicly denounce official claims that the board is unified in support of LaPierre, and call for LaPierre’s resignation. Colorado activist Tim Knight, another director originally nominated by petition of the members, has also publicly expressed his lack of confidence in LaPierre. Numerous other directors have made off-the-record statements of dissatisfaction with the status quo, but are being cautious in their public statements for the time being.

LTC West would certainly be a reasonable choice for an immediate replacement for LaPierre. Having an African American, combat veteran with a sterling reputation, as CEO of the NRA right now, would not hurt the organization’s image, and I suspect that LTC. West would not be very tolerant of excuses and financial chicanery, nor would he be cavalier with the members’ money. He has expressed his willingness to hold the position for no more than a year or so, as an interim manager to help get the organization’s issues corrected and get it back on track, before passing the baton to someone else of the board’s choosing.

The unfortunate reality of the situation is that a small contingent of directors unified behind LaPierre, can probably hold off any alternative options offered, because they are unified in their objective, while the rest of the board has doubts and questions. With the waters muddied as they are, it is very difficult to get the directors to agree on any particular course of action, so the opposition to LaPierre might constitute a strong majority of the board, like herding cats, if they can’t all get on the same page behind West or some other candidate, they won’t be able to overcome the inertia of the status quo.

The long-standing problem of how the members can let the board know their opinions is still a problem. NRA management has a vested interest in keeping members of the board shielded from the opinions of the unwashed membership. There are ways to get a message through, some more effective than others. NRA members can send emails to the board of directors by writing to NRABoD@NRAHQ.org

Unfortunately, rather than going to the individual directors, those emails are posted on a “Directors Only” section of the NRA website, and it has been reported that many directors never visit the page. Snail-mail to directors can be sent care of NRA Headquarters, 11250 Waples Mill Road, Fairfax, VA 22030. Letters addressed to individual directors will probably be forwarded to them, but open letters to the entire board are more likely to be scanned and posted on the website like emails are. To learn the best way to communicate with directors, members can call NRA HQ at 703-267-1000 and ask for the Secretary’s Office. Members wishing to get face-to-face with their elected directors will have the opportunity to do so at the fall board meeting in September in Anchorage, Alaska.

[AmmoLand News will also publish all open letters from members to the NRA board as Letters to the AmmoLand Editor.]

NRAAM 2019, Full of Sound & Fury, Signifying Nothing? Recap for the Record

The National Rifle Association gathered for 2019 Annual Meeting of Members last month amid a firestorm of rumors, accusations, and threats. It promised to be the most contentious Members’ Meeting in decades, and it didn’t disappoint on that score. But the gathering, which was preceded by rumbling thunder, leading into lightning cracks and howling winds, concluded with a hollow, unsatisfying whimper.

For months, news had been rumbling through various media outlets, of financial strife and disorder within the nations most powerful rights organization. Then, just days before the Members’ Meeting, the NRA filed suit against Ackerman McQueen, their PR partners of almost 40 years, with accusations of undue influence and expropriation of funds via murky invoices and hazy billing practices. Lightning struck again a few days later when The New Yorker published a blistering exposé of NRA’s finances and cozy deals enjoyed by some executives, contractors, and consultants.

All of this triggered a flood of speculation and uproar on blogs and social media among NRA members and the large contingent of pro-gun/anti-NRA advocates in the rights community. Even some members of the NRA Board of Directors made public comments suggesting that changes were needed.

On Friday, the day before the Members’ Meeting, as associated events were in full swing, President Trump and Vice President Pence both attended an NRA-sponsored, Leadership Forum and gave rousing speeches pledging their support for the NRA and America’s 100 million gun owners. They shared the stage with NRA Executive Vice President Wayne Lapierre and NRA President Ollie North. Everything was looking rosy. But later that day, a letter from LaPierre to the Board of Directors exploded in the media. The letter was remarkably similar to a letter LaPierre sent to the board in 1997, expressing “shock” that a member of the board would try to bribe or extort him into abandoning his post at the NRA. Specifically, the Friday letter claimed that Oliver North had called Wayne to threaten him with a damaging and embarrassing letter that Ack-Mack was preparing to send to the board.

The letter scandal blew up so widely in the media, that it eclipsed, for a time, an even more significant bombshell that dropped that same day. That came from the office of New York Attorney General Laticia James, announcing that they had served the NRA with instructions to preserve their financial and related records, and had begun issuing subpoenas in an investigation of the NRA’s tax exempt status and other matters. To many concerned observers, that announcement represented the triggering of a massive, slow-motion guillotine blade, falling inexorably toward the extended neck of the NRA.

In the Members’ Meeting on Saturday, Oliver North was a no-show. First Vice President Richard Childress read a letter from North expressing his frustration with current affairs at the NRA and stating that he did not intend to seek a second term as president. Childress was pressed into service to chair the meeting – a position for which he was ill-prepared, and in which he was clearly uncomfortable – and the meeting proceeded. Adam Kraut attempted to gain the floor early, trying to add an item to the meeting agenda, to assure the members had an opportunity to discuss the various accusations and other problems they’d heard about, but the Chair would not recognize him. Other attempts to raise questions during the meeting were ignored or silenced until the meeting reached the Resolutions portion of the agenda.

The first resolution wanted to thank President Trump for “un-signing” the UN Arms Trade Treaty. It passed handily, and then someone – presumably a member of the board – moved that the meeting be adjourned. This generated an immediate uproar from a good part of the crowd and protests from the microphones. The chair could have – and in my opinion, should have – refused to entertain the motion, as the business wasn’t finished, but it went to a vote and was defeated. That’s when the fireworks started. The next resolution, the one they’d hoped to avoid hitting the floor, was a call for a vote of “No Confidence” in Wayne LaPierre and the members of the Finance, Audit, and Executive committees, who are primarily responsible for overseeing his activities, and a call for their resignations.

Board members rushed to the microphones, insisting that these were not matters that should be discussed in an open meeting with media present, and called for the resolution to be referred to the Board of Directors. Supporters of the resolution, and others who wanted to find out what was going on in their association balked at that idea, and Adam Kraut suggested that the Chair order the media to leave the room. This was construed as a motion to go into Executive Session, and that matter was debated for quite some time, with several directors – most of them members of the Executive and Finance committees – rising to argue against going into Executive Session, and adding arguments against any discussion of the widely reported allegations of financial abuses. Eventually, the members voted not to go into Executive Session, and the motion to refer the resolution to the board, passed, effectively shutting down any further discussion.

Another back-patting resolution, this one from an ardent fan of Dana Loesch, calling for some sort of special recognition for her, was read and was also referred to the board for consideration. At that point, Directors again began rushing the microphones to move for adjournment. Realizing that the mood of the crowd had turned and that the majority of the members were ready to go look at the guns and gear in the exhibit hall, Adam Kraut beat them to the punch and made the motion. The members voted to close this time, and the meeting ended.

Then the grumbling and speculation turned to the Board of Directors meeting, scheduled for Monday morning.

When it finally came, it didn’t take the directors long to take their meeting into Executive Session, interrupting Mr. Childress’ report to close the meeting to everyone except directors and a handful of staff.

After several hours in closed session, with no news coming out of the meeting, then AmmoLand News reported that Wayne LaPierre had been reelected by a unanimous vote of the board. That report was soon corroborated by a post on the website for the American Rifleman, NRA’s flagship magazine. Which included more details, including the fact that First Vice President Richard Childress had declined to run for an officer position, Second Vice President Carolyn Meadows was elected President, Charles Cotton was elected First Vice President, Willes Lee was elected Second Vice President, and Chris Cox was retained as Executive Director of NRA-ILA. The official report focused on the word “unanimous,” as did all of the media reports.

The reaction on social media was angry and incredulous. After all of the damning evidence and tough talk from some on the board, how could they have possibly unanimously reelected Wayne LaPierre?

The reality is almost certain that the entire slate of candidates was offered up at once with a motion to confirm them by acclamation. This is a fairly common process under Roberts Rules of Order. The chair hears the motion and second, and declares; “Without objection,” and bangs the gavel. Done. It was probably several minutes before many in the room realized what had just happened. Too late for them to offer objections or change the vote. But that doesn’t explain why none of the directors are publicly challenging LaPierre’s subsequent assertions that the board is united in their support for him and his plans for the association moving forward.

In fact very little has been heard from anyone on the board since the meeting finally adjourned, some nine and a half hours after it started. Just the duration of the meeting indicates that there were some serious questions and debate. These meetings normally only last an hour or two at the most. So, between the length of the meeting, and the silence of the directors, it can be pretty safely assumed that some significant matters were raised, and that some of those matters were of such delicacy that any discussion of them outside of the closed board meeting, would do harm to the association, and potentially cost the seat of any director who strayed from the confidentiality agreement.

For the time being, I think it would be prudent for disgruntled NRA members and critics like me, to back off a little and see what happens. There’s nothing that a minority of the board could do to change the course of events that are on their way, and continuing to press them on the matter, doesn’t help the cause. It is to be hoped that we will at least see the tentacles of Ackerman McQueen steadily untangled from all NRA business, and some significant reforms imposed on how the association deals with contractors and consultants.

Lawyers will be tasked with keeping Attorney General James from doing any serious damage to NRA’s political apparatus until at least some time after the 2020 elections. Going through this debacle is bad enough. Trying to do it with an anti-rights Democrat in the White House and anti-rights majorities in both houses of Congress, would undoubtedly speed up that falling guillotine from New York.

We want to cut out the cancer without killing the patient, and while we didn’t get the dramatic changes we wanted, for now, that means stepping back to see whether any progress is evident and plan for the next round of treatments.

Only Two Options, Can the BOD Save Us?

(April 22, 2019) The National Rifle Association is in serious trouble, and the NRA Board of Directors has only two options to save America’s biggest civil rights organization.

Option 1. A majority of the Board circles the wagons in defense of Wayne LaPierre and his pals and tries to weather the storm. (They’ll fail, and the whole ship will sink.)

or

Option 2. A majority of the Board fires LaPierre and other executives (or accepts their resignations) and nullifies their contracts, suspends all vendor contracts pending thorough review and renegotiation, and purges culpable members of their own body – demonstrating a commitment to safeguarding NRA assets on behalf of the membership. (Plugging the holes and possibly saving the ship.)

For those who might be playing catch-up on this story, you can read my previous article and the links contained in it, but here’s the short version of the situation:

Wayne LaPierre, the CEO of the NRA, along with fellow executives and outside contractors, (in particular Advertising agency Ackerman McQueen) has been recklessly shoveling money out of NRA coffers for decades – to the tune of possibly hundreds of millions of dollars. This has been done with the complicity of some of the NRA’s elected directors, the willful ignorance of others, and the active resistance of a few more.

The chicanery, mostly in the form of inflated executive salaries, sweetheart deals to friends and family, and routine payments to vendors for unspecified services, raised objections among loyal NRA staff members, but their questions and concerns were met with hostility and retribution. My father raised these exact concerns over 20 years ago when he was on the NRA Board of Directors, only to be pushed out of the leadership. As the problems got worse in recent years, NRA fell under increased scrutiny from reporters and regulators, leading some staff members to redouble efforts to raise alarms to the appropriate board committees. But these board members continued to sweep the improprieties under the rug, even after strong warnings from outside counsel that the organization was at risk of severe damage, particularly from New York regulators.

As a nonprofit chartered in New York, the NRA falls under New York law and the purview of the NRA-hating NY Attorney General. She has frequently expressed her desire to tear down the organization, and has been signaling a pending investigation into NRA finances.

In an effort to save the organization, some staff and former employees reluctantly shared some of their evidence with reporters, and a bombshell expose’ was published in The New Yorker in mid-April, just days after the NRA had filed a lawsuit against their long-time PR firm, Ackerman McQueen, suggesting that Ack-Mack had been taking advantage of some lax billing and conflict of interest policies at NRA. This was an obvious attempt to deflect blame for NRA’s financial woes – over $30 million in the red – and financial improprieties away from LaPierre and his executive team. All of this was followed by a formal request from Mike Bloomberg’s anti-gun conglomerate, calling on the IRS to launch a formal audit of the NRA’s tax exempt status.

There can be little doubt that the New York AG and others in positions of power will try to dismantle the NRA, regardless of what the board does. Our enemies see that we are wounded, and the vultures are circling. By cleaning their own house before any formal investigation, the board would demonstrate that they are living up to their fiduciary responsibilities, and that would go a long way toward mitigating the long-term damage from regulators.

The current NRA Board of Directors have a slim chance of saving the NRA from total ruin, but they must act swiftly and decisively.

They must expunge everyone involved in even the appearance of corruption. Including board members who failed in their oversight obligations and individuals like Josh Powell the genius behind many of the NRA’s recent disasters like Carry Guard and a known manipulator of Wayne LaPierre’s decision making. They must halt all outside contracts until they can be thoroughly reviewed and either canceled or renegotiated. As much as possible needs to be brought in-house and run under the direct oversight of the board. This action may mean the end of things like Ackerman McQueen run NRA-TV, so do not be surprised if they pack up shop one day soon.

All of the significant, life-threatening issues facing NRA revolve around just three operational areas: PR, fundraising, and political spending. Suspending operations in those three areas, and bringing them under tight, in-house control for the immediate future, would put the association back on stable ground and allow it to continue operating effectively.

There will undoubtedly be repercussions from all of this, including fines, sanctions, lawsuits, and possibly criminal indictments, but all of those repercussions are on their way, regardless of what the board does now. The difference is whether those consequences will be levied against an organization that still has the people who created those problems at the helm – people who will be using NRA resources to cover their tails – or an organization that has policed itself and taken corrective action to address its problems.

As I stated at the outset, the NRA Board of Directors has only two choices. They can cry “unity, unity” or call it another “Knox take over attempt” all the while rallying around the culprits who caused the problems, and let the ship sink to leave membership and our bill of rights stranded.

Or they can throw the known miscreants overboard, plug the holes, and get busy bailing because only then will membership will jump in and help right the ship.

Contact the NRA Board of Directors
Contact the NRA Board of Directors

The next board of Board of Directors meeting is this coming Monday April 29th 2019. Make your voices heard. You can have an impact on that decision by contacting your NRA directors (BoD@NRAHQ.org) and the leaders of your NRA affiliated state association, to let them know what you want to see happen.

(Name of Board Member or Attn NRA Board of Directors)
NRA Office of the Secretary
11250 Waples Mill Road
Fairfax, VA, 22030

or nrabod@nrahq.org

NRA’s Dirty Laundry Exposed as Pro-Gun Group Cleans House

(April 19, 2019) On April 12, the National Rifle Association filed suit in a Virginia court, accusing their long-time PR company, Ackerman McQueen, of failing to provide detailed billing, and failure to disclose contracts with NRA staff and officers that might demonstrate a conflict of interest, including an Ack-Mac contract with NRA President Ollie North.

As the news of the shocking lawsuit made the rounds of mainstream media and was just sinking in – especially to most of the members of the NRA Board of Directors, who had no advance warning about the suit – a new exposé on the shady dealings of NRA insiders was published by The New Yorker (www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/secrecy-self-dealing-and-greed-at-the-nra/). That article, shedding new light on lousy business, showed that this isn’t just NRA leaders in a nasty mess of their own making, but a deeply embedded cancer that has metastasized, putting the NRA itself in serious jeopardy.

During WWII, people held up two fingers and declared “V for Victory!” I have to admit that when I heard the news about the suit against Ack-Mac, I smiled. The thought of NRA brass and Ack-Mac executives going at each other in a cage match really tickled me. In celebration, I figuratively raised the familiar one-finger salute that has long represented our seemingly futile struggle with the NRA leadership, and transitioned it into the two-finger sign of the “V,” not for Victory, but for Vindication.

Over 20 years ago, my father, Neal Knox, as First Vice President of the NRA and just one year away from taking the reins as President, threw a red flag on the practices of Ack-Mac and Wayne LaPierre. He questioned the expensive, intrusive, and heavy-handed fundraising tactics, such as constant, over-hyped letters, phone calls, and fundraising letters sent by registered mail, and the exorbitant sums being paid to the PR company. He demanded reforms in the association’s fundraising methods and specifics on contracts and billing details involving Ack-Mac and other vendors. Both he and Second Vice President Albert Ross refused to sign the hefty, monthly checks being cut to Ack-Mac, and a major battle for control of the NRA ensued. It wasn’t like the 1977 Cincinnati fight for the soul and destiny of the organization. The new dust-up was between the Board and the staff for control of the organization’s checkbook.

The upshot of that battle was that Wayne won, Dad lost, and the fast-and-loose money games continued and just got worse. Charlton Heston was brought in to bump Dad from the leadership, and Wayne’s compensation rose rapidly from about $250,000 a year to almost $1,000,000.00. In the latest available IRS report from 2017, LaPierre’s total compensation was reported at $1.4 million, or about $117,000 per month, and a couple of years before that, he also got a distribution from his retirement fund of about $4 million, for a total compensation of more than $5 million that year. It’s worth noting that he’s receiving this at a time when the NRA is over $30 million in the red, and the retirement fund is in negative numbers to the tune of almost $60 million. Ack-Mack’s take from the NRA in 2017 was over $40 million.

For nearly a quarter of a century, we – Dad, my brother Chris, and I – have returned to this topic again and again.

Our goal has never been vengeance or retribution, but to alert NRA members and rouse the members of the NRA Board of Directors to fulfill their moral and legal obligations to the members, and put a stop to the chicanery.

Those efforts have, to a great extent, fallen on deaf ears. We have been vilified, belittled, and ignored by the majority of the board, and we’ve been publicly attacked by NRA leaders accusing us of trying to tear down the organization that we have been working so hard to save.

That’s why the lawsuit against Ackerman McQueen gave me a smile of vindication. It confirms many of the things that we have been saying for so long. But the celebration was tinged with concern about the harm the whole debacle would cause our historic organization. Then all of that turned to anger and a sense of doom as I read the exposé in The New Yorker.

Reporter Mike Spies works for Bloomberg’s anti-rights propaganda outlet The Trace and has collaborated with reporters and editors from a variety of mostly anti-rights newspapers and magazines like Mother Jones and the New York Times. Those connections and affiliations will cause many to dismiss this latest article as just more anti-gun propaganda. That would be a mistake. Spies did a thorough job of digging up sources [he clearly has a someone leaking him info at NRA or maybe Ackerman] and documentation to back up the critical points in his article, and he presents them with little spin or distortion. Calling on NRA members to ignore the message and focus on the messenger, won’t work this time. The article and its sources are too well documented and credible for that, and enemies of the NRA will undoubtedly pursue these leads with bulldog tenacity.

NRA members should be furious, and the Board of Directors should be terrified.

Even with my 40-year history in the NRA, I never imagined the abuses and neglect were so outrageous and rampant. The most significant revelation is that NRA employees and attorneys brought many of these issues to the Audit Committee of the Board of Directors, and the members of that committee did nothing to correct the problems. They didn’t alert fellow directors about the issues. They didn’t call executives and contractors out on the carpet for the abuses. They didn’t call for contract reviews, investigations, or disciplinary actions. Instead, they retroactively approved past actions that should only have been taken with their prior approval and did their best to contain the damaging information, helping to drive away dedicated NRA employees who did nothing other than try to inform them of problems.

“The emperor has no clothes!” – “Someone slap that kid!”

To get an idea of the depth and breadth of the theft, corruption, and abuse that has been going on at the NRA for the past 25-plus years, you need to read the entire article in The New Yorker, but here are some highlights:

  • Remember that 1.4 million dollars being paid to Wayne LaPierre? At some point, a clause was added to his employment contract guaranteeing him payment as a speaker and consultant after he retires from NRA, at the full base salary he is being paid as Executive Vice President.
  • Multiple NRA executives have left the organization and walked into $600,000 and $700,000 dollars a year consulting contracts for NRA.
  • Wives, children, and other relatives of NRA executives and NRA contractors have routinely crisscrossed between the NRA and various vendors, drawing exorbitant salaries.
  • Key vendors – like Ackerman McQueen – have been routinely paid on invoices that were incomplete or unspecific, and NRA employees questioning such payments were retaliated against.

The dollar figures involved are in the hundreds of millions, but the most critical paragraph in the article is this one:

“The memos urged the audit committee to ‘step up + fulfill its duties!,’ but it’s not clear what the board has done to root out malfeasance. James Fishman, a co-author of ‘New York Nonprofit Law and Practice: With Tax Analysis,’ a leading text on nonprofit law, told me, ‘There is no such thing as a director who doesn’t direct. You’re responsible to make yourself aware of what’s going on. If the board doesn’t know, they’ve breached their duty of care, which is against the law in New York,’ where the N.R.A. is chartered. According to Owens, the former I.R.S. official, New York State ‘could sanction board members, remove board members, disband the board, or close down the organization entirely.’”
(Emphasis added – JK)

The memos mentioned were prepared by NRA’s director of tax and risk management, Emily Cummins, for an NRA Audit Committee emergency meeting last July. I’ve known Emily for years, and know that she was very loyal and committed to the NRA. I say “was” because Emily no longer works for NRA. I don’t know the circumstances of her departure but could venture a pretty good guess.

This is a collection of specific concerns raised to a committee of the NRA Board of Directors by a loyal NRA employee. It was acquired by the reporter and analyzed by an expert on New York nonprofit law and an expert on nonprofit tax regulations. Their assessment is that the Board of Directors’ failure to have weeded out these issues and addressed them, is – potentially criminal – dereliction of duty that could result in personal sanctions and the dissolution of the organization.

Are you listening now, NRA Directors?
Personal sanctions. Removal from the Board. Dissolution of the NRA. All because you have refused to step up and fulfill your duties.

Ignoring warnings, blaming critics, covering for friends, and going along to get along, could bring the world’s most powerful organization for defending the right to arms, crashing to the ground. Continuing to deny and circling the wagons to protect against outside assaults, will not save the NRA, because the destroyer is inside the circle. Only decisive action to root out the corruption and return to the core values and principles of the organization can save it.

There’s no way to fix the problems without sustaining some pretty severe damage. I don’t know what kind of legal issues would be involved in dissolving existing contracts with vendors and employees, but drastic measures must be taken immediately. Those directors carrying the greatest culpability – members of the Audit Committee, the Finance Committee, and the Executive Committee – should resign. Had the Board not recently made recalls of directors and officers virtually impossible, I would start a recall drive against many of them.

What makes this whole situation even worse, is the fact that the NRA is chartered in New York. That means that New York law applies, and that means that the rabidly anti-NRA and anti-gun NY Attorney General Letitia James, working under the rabidly anti-NRA and anti-gun Governor Andrew Cuomo, will be in charge of the investigation and any “corrective” action. Does anyone think the benefit of the doubt for “good intentions” will play a significant role?

This is a case of greed, hubris, and blind loyalty leading to calamity. I honestly don’t know if the NRA will be able to survive.

There are some very good people on the NRA Board of Directors, and they need to step up now and get to the bottom of all of this. It’s going to be a mess, no matter how it’s handled, but taking aggressive action to cut out the cancer is the only way to save the organization.

Presidents or past-presidents of state associations might need to step up to help out. LaPierre needs to walk away without the golden parachute, and much of the executive staff needs to go with him. Virtually all outside NRA contracts beyond electric service and internet access, need to be canceled in the most cost-effective way possible.

I don’t expect to be in Indianapolis for the Members’ Meeting; I just can’t afford it, so I urge those who are going to be there, to demand answers from your board and staff in that open, formal setting. A motion should be made right at the outset to set a time certain on the official order of business for discussion of the corruption and mismanagement allegations. They will point to the press and try to say that discussing those matters shouldn’t be done in public, then they’ll dodge questions by saying that they can’t talk about ongoing litigation, or they’ll try to use parliamentary tricks to shut down the motion, but it’s your Association, and you have the right to be heard and get answers.

I don’t relish this situation. Yes, I’m glad to see Dad get his vindication, but not at such a high cost. I have been a Life Member of the NRA for 40 years. I paid full price for that membership, beginning with my first check from the Army after graduating from Basic Training, and I’ve dedicated countless hours over the years, trying to make the organization better and more effective. This is not a victory for Dad or me. Like the Notre Dame cathedral, I just hope we can save what’s left and rebuild.

But take heart. As I said in February during a speech at a rights rally in Phoenix, “the gun lobby is not a bunch of overpaid suits in Washington DC. If the NRA disappeared tomorrow, the gun lobby would still be just as powerful, because the gun lobby isn’t the NRA, it’s the NRA members and tens of millions of dedicated patriots just like you, scattered throughout this wide land.”

While the NRA is a powerful communication tool between rights supporters and their elected servants and losing that central conduit would be a significant blow, it would only be a temporary setback. With that fact in mind, I encourage readers to take steps now to be sure that you and your fellow rights supporters are in the loop for important rights-related news by subscribing to AmmoLand News email list. If you are already subscribed, get five more people to sign up. Be sure that you’re a member of a competent, state grassroots organization, and join and subscribe to email alerts from groups like The Firearms Coalition and GOA. Then take action when we ask you to make a call or send an email to your elected servants.

Let’s hope we can save the NRA. Contact the Directors and demand that they take responsibility and correct the problems. (They are listed in your magazine.) But more than anything else, be sure to keep contacting your politicians and letting them know that with or without the NRA, you are the gun lobby, and the gun lobby isn’t going away.

Ammunition for the grassroots gun rights movement