I’d like to start this post by clarifying something. I am NOT an NRA Hater. I haven’t always been a member, that’s true, but I’ve always been a supporter, and I’ve always believed in the stated mission of education, training, and defending the Second Amendment.
I believe that our country NEEDS a strong NRA. I believe that if the NRA had never existed our gun rights would be far lesser than they are now. The NRA has done a great job of SLOWING the decay of our firearms freedoms, despite what I perceive to be a lackluster performance at RESTORING what freedoms we’ve lost. I know there are people, perhaps some of you reading this right now, who say that the NRA has done nothing but compromise our rights away a bit at a time- and it can certainly look that way. However, I suspect that by sitting at the table when these laws are made and by being a part of the process the NRA has prevented far worse things from happening to our rights.
I say all of this so that the reader may know where I’m coming from when I talk about the current state of the NRA.
As I’m sure you know, the NRA has recently been wracked with scandal related to financial irregularities and incestuous relationships between its officers and their public relations firm, Ackerman-McQueen. In fact, the organization is in the midst of suing A-M over transparency issues with their billing.
Which is pretty ironic, when you think about some of the issues members are having with the NRA.
At the 2019 NRA Meeting, several members tried to have their voices heard with regard to the NRA’s problems, the viability of Wayne Lapierre continuing as the organization’s Executive Vice President, and general transparency between the Board and the Members. Rob Pincus, among others, tried to engage with the Board about these concerns, and the “Old Guard” quickly circled the wagons to prevent any transparent discussion. You can see video of this below:
Subsequent to the NRAAM, then-President Oliver North resigned, and the board “unanimously” voted to retain Lapierre as EVP. As the weeks have gone by, Board Members have made statements refuting the story of “unanimity” and have condemned the Executive Committee’s stance on the Member’s concerns.
The Internet has been awash with backlash from the common Member, with numerous Social Media posts, YouTube videos, and blog articles excoriating the Board for its position.
The Board, instead of listening to the Membership, has chosen to continue to defend its actions, and has attacked anyone who has disagreed with them.
Below you will find the text of a letter the Board sent out, which was signed by Board Members and Past Presidents. The words in the bold text and bullet pointed are my responses to the letter…
A Letter From The NRA
Dear Fellow NRA Member:
Since the NRA was founded almost 150 years ago, our adversaries have repeatedly tried to take us down. Today is no different. A recent burst of media claims the NRA is vulnerable, financially unstable, and weakened in its fight to defend the Second Amendment. Obviously intent on not letting the facts get in the way of a good story, most reports offer a distorted and inaccurate view of the NRA. As officers and past presidents of the NRA, we write today to set the record straight.
As you may know, we recently convened in Indianapolis for one of the largest NRA conventions in our history. More than 80,000 of our members showed up to gather as one NRA family – to support our Association and celebrate our nation’s constitutional freedoms. During our annual Members Meeting on April 27, some asked for greater insight into three issues: the NRA’s financial affairs, our direction and strategy, and the supervisory role being played by our board of directors. We had an open forum and spirited discussion.
- Open Forum my left foot. The Old Guard tried everything they could to shut members down.
Of course, our discussions were portrayed as a sort of family feud. (Infighting at the NRA – Chaos and Controversy!). At the NRA, we take pride in the fact that our Association is inclusive and invites the active participation of every member.
- But only if you are a Life Member or have been a member for 5 years without lapse.
Every member has an opportunity to voice any concern they may have at the Members Meeting. In fact, our greatest privilege is hearing from our members.
- Which is why the Old Guard tried like Hell to close the meeting before the Members could be heard. It was only through heroic efforts by Rob Pincus and others that ANY members were heard- just watch the videos above. And as for being “privileged”, I have no doubt you DO feel privileged, just not in the way you want us to think…
Like many of you, that’s why we were at the Members Meeting in the first place and spent countless hours on the convention floor.
Fact: During a board of directors meeting on April 29, Wayne LaPierre was elected by acclamation to continue serving as our CEO and Executive Vice President.
- Did you notice that they’re no longer saying it was unanimous?
The board also unanimously elected Carolyn D. Meadows to serve as our new president.
Perhaps looking for a way to counter the narrative about a stronger, more unified NRA, questions have now conveniently surfaced about our financial situation and our standing in the regulatory arena. There also have been frequent attacks on Wayne’s personal character.
Fact: According to the NRA’s chief financial officer, we are on budget in 2019. The NRA is meeting all banking and supplier financial obligations and we continue to aggressively manage our cost structure to offset the orchestrated and calculated attacks against NRA’s finances in 2018. Put another way, our financial house is in order – we aren’t going away.
- Then why did I get an email titled “NRA Shutdown Notice” wherein the NRA begged for money, saying that it might get shut down if people didn’t contribute?
We have full confidence in the NRA’s accounting practices and commitment to good governance
Fact: The Association’s financials are audited and its tax filings are verified by one of the most reputable firms in the world. Internally, the Association has a conflict of interest policy and, where appropriate, related-party transactions are reviewed and approved by the board’s Audit Committee.
Simply put, we are well-positioned on the regulatory front and poised to handle all challenges that confront us.
- Then how are all the questionable things happening? How is it that the members are paying rent for Wayne’s Intern Love Shack? How is it that the members are paying for Wayne to have a $39,000 in one day shopping spree at Zegna?
Personal attacks against the NRA’s leaders are nothing new. Recent ones have focused on wardrobe purchases and travel expenses incurred by Wayne. If members hear of an allegation, they can be assured that it has been or will be addressed by the appropriate committees within our board of directors.
- Then tell is what you’ve done about it!
Fact: We have committees in place to oversee issues relating to Accounting, Legal Affairs, and Ethics, among others – and every board member is invited to attend these meetings. Please remember that all of us are elected by you – our members. We are not elected by Wayne or anyone on the NRA executive team. We serve as your elected representatives.
Fact: Over the years, Wayne had been advised by the NRA’s advertising professionals to invest in his professional wardrobe due to his numerous public and media appearances. We understand that this was the same agency that facilitated the clothing purchases. What wasn’t as evident in this “disclosure” is that the clothing expenses referenced in media reports dated back to expenses from 15 years ago! To put it in perspective, over this time period, Wayne has participated in thousands of events and hundreds of TV appearances, and personally directed fundraising efforts that total in the hundreds of millions of dollars. In any event, this practice was discontinued some time ago.
- $39,000 in ONE DAY? If Wayne needs clothing for his job, then he can do the same thing I do- buy it himself and write it off on his tax returns, instead of getting it paid for on the members’ dime!
Fact: The vast majority of the travel in question involved donor outreach, fundraising, and stakeholder engagement. As an example, The Wall Street Journal reported that a trip to Italy was “tied to a 2015 documentary feature on the Italian gun maker posted on NRATV.” Beretta, as you may know, is a major supporter of the NRA and our Second Amendment.
- OK, so the trip to Beretta may have been work related. Cool. How about the trip to the Bahamas? The last time I checked there aren’t any gunmakers THERE…
We are not inclined to further discuss unfounded attacks on our organization, political infighting, or a “weakened” NRA.
- Nor are you willing to discuss the ones based in fact. This sentence is just an effort to smear anyone willing to say that the Emperor isn’t wearing any clothes (or is wearing some REALLY expensive clothes, anyway).
However, we will say this: Our adversaries will not divide us and any further discussion about the so-called “demise of the NRA” is only meant to distract us from our mission. This is how it goes when you stand on the bedrock of constitutional freedom – and represent the last line of defense against a campaign to take down the Second Amendment.
- And apparently negotiate away things like bump stocks, which could NEVER lead to more regulatory abuse and over reach, right?
While board members may argue, and perhaps even disagree as to tactics, the support Wayne and the current leadership enjoys reflects our assessment of his past and future value to the association as well as our realization that our opponents know they have to take him down if they want to weaken the NRA.
- No. There appears to be a great many Members who think that Wayne needs to step down in order to SAVE the NRA. But again, let’s just attack anyone who dares to question the Great and Mighty Executives.
As one NRA member recently said, the true story of the NRA won’t be found in today’s press clippings. It will be written in the history books.
Wayne has been standing shoulder-to-shoulder with all of us for most of his professional life. He has our support. A campaign to oust him failed – as the facts emerged, true motivations became apparent, and we agreed as to who should lead our fight for freedom. We are now moving forward.
Fact: We will confront our opponents, defend our values, and proudly continue our tradition as the greatest civil rights organization in the world.
- In other words, seek to silence and suppress anyone who questions the Old Guard of the NRA. The common member just needs to shut the Hell up and keep writing checks.
Just like you, we care about the Second Amendment and our NRA. Just as you do, we know that our fights today are less for us and more for our children and our grandchildren. Just like you, we are all courageous foot soldiers in our fight for freedom. Every single one of us in this fight matters. The Second Amendment is where it is today because of all of OUR efforts. That’s why you matter to our cause and our Association.
- Unless you dare to disagree with the “leadership” of the NRA. Then you’re a Russian bot, or a Bloomberg plant, or some other agent of Evil.
We are the NRA. United we stand. And together, we’ll win.
- No, you are not. WE, the MEMBERS, are the NRA- and it’s time you remembered that.