Perhaps the most important perspective to be put on the turmoil within the National Rifle Association that led to the departure of Oliver North as the organization’s president came from an unexpected source: the head of a billionaire-backed gun prohibition group.
Quoted by CNBC, John Feinblatt, president of the Michael Bloomberg-supported Everytown for Gun Safety, commented, “The bottom line is this: As the NRA plummets, the gun safety movement just keeps growing.”
North, who became NRA president last year, left Indianapolis Friday evening after what some media outlets are portraying as a “failed attempt to remove” Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre in the midst of what some members declared during Saturday’s annual members’ meeting as the “airing of dirty laundry.” The controversy swirls around NRA finances and its lawsuit against longtime vendor Ackerman-McQueen. That group has reportedly been paid tens of millions of dollars by NRA for public relations work over the years, including television and advertising campaigns.
After a contentious members’ meeting Saturday, it does not appear that LaPierre is going anywhere. Support came from several NRA Directors including former President Marion Hammer, the first woman to ever lead the organization, during the 1990s.
During his speech to the members, LaPierre focused on the political fight NRA is having with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and its political battles on the horizon rather than the internal battle that led to North’s departure.
But it is Feinblatt’s observation to which Second Amendment activists—including those who gathered 2,000 miles away in Washington State for a rally on the Capitol steps and the Washington Arms Collectors’s gun show an hour’s drive north from there—probably should pay the most attention.
Hammer noted during her remarks from the floor Saturday that NRA faces attacks from its enemies, and should not face destruction “from within.” Translation: The NRA doesn’t need a circular firing squad.
That is especially true with a national election looming in 18 months, and a slate of Democrats trying to out-race each other to the political left, making no secret that they hope to step over the corpse of not only the NRA, but other pro-Second Amendment groups as well.
Feinblatt’s “bottom line” reference to a plummeting NRA seems somewhat overconfident. There does not appear to be any sign that the NRA is about to fold its tent, especially after appearances Friday by President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. Trump’s son, Donald, Jr., toured the NRA exhibit hall Friday afternoon, and the exhibit hall was jammed Saturday as tens of thousands of members from all over the country strolled the aisles to check out firearms and accessories for shooting and hunting.
Still, when gun owners fight amongst themselves, say many attending the weekend convention at Indianapolis, the gun prohibition lobby grows stronger, raising money, energizing anti-gun activism and pushing an agenda that has become a major part of the 2020 Democrat presidential campaign.
Every one of the Democrats so far entered in the race has mentioned gun control, and two Californians—Rep. Eric Swalwell and Sen. Kamala Harris—have made it a centerpiece of their stump speeches lately.
The NRA’s financial and growing legal problems with New York State, where the organization is incorporated, will likely be fleshed out during a Monday meeting of the Board of Directors. And from there, with Feinblatt and his anti-gun contemporaries watching with apparent glee, in the media.