As the 151st annual meetings of the National Rifle Association loom in Houston, Tex., what appears to be a fight over leadership is erupting, with a group of self-identified “concerned life members led by current Board member Judge Phil Journey” have recruited Lt. Col. Allen West (USA-Ret.) to challenge longtime Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre for that job.
The election will be held Monday, May 30 following the Memorial Day weekend convention at the George R. Brown Convention Center May 27-29.
LaPierre has become a lightning rod of controversy since questions about NRA finances were first brought up in 2019, the year the convention was held in Indianapolis. It was just before the convention opened that then-President Lt. Col. Oliver North (USMC-Ret) abruptly quit in what appeared to be a blow-up over finances and a rift between LaPierre and Ackerman-McQueen, the firm that had been handling the association’s public relations efforts. Competing lawsuits were filed, liberal media had a field day and the association went through what was variously described as a “thwarted coup” to an “unraveling.” It all appears to have led up to the emergence of West as a challenger to LaPierre.
West, a former member of Congress, issued a statement, quoted in an announcement Monday.
“In the military we have a saying,” West explained, “it is that Warriors move to the sound of the guns. It is with a sincere humility that I have consented to my nomination to be Executive Vice President of the National Rifle Association. History has taught us that when the people are disarmed, they are subjugated, enslaved to tyranny and totalitarianism. The Nation’s oldest civil rights institution is the National Rifle Association. I would be honored to secure that legacy going forward for future generations of legal, law-abiding American citizens, gun owners. My goals are to restore the honor, integrity, and character of this venerable organization along with refocusing on our core competencies, shooting sports/marksmanship and defense of our Second Amendment constitutional right.”
But the proposal to replace LaPierre—who has been under fire for more than two years by New York State Attorney General Letitia James—has drawn a bristling reaction from former NRA President David Keene. Speaking in defense of LaPierre, Keene stated, “It is due to Wayne’s vision and hard work over decades that gun owners have come to rely on the NRA in the continuing struggle to preserve our constitutional rights. No one is perfect. Wayne has sometimes trusted people who didn’t deserve that trust. I doubt if he or any of us can claim we’ve always been right about everything. But no one could have done a better job for us over years of service, or for America’s gun owners and the Second Amendment, than Wayne.”
Keene’s full statement appears at Ammoland News. It has garnered more than 100 reactions from readers, virtually all negative.
James sued NRA in August 2020, and an amended complaint was filed this month. When she initially ran for the office of Attorney General in New York, James said she would take action against the organization, which was incorporated in New York state in 1871, allowing her to push for dissolution of NRA in the original lawsuit. A judge removed that option.
This new outbreak of controversy about the NRA first came to attention on May 5 with publication of a lengthy opinion by veteran gun rights activist Jeff Knox, whose father, Neal Knox, served as an NRA Director, did four years as head of NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, and rose to the office of NRA’s 2nd Vice President. He passed away in 2005.
Jeff Knox, also writing at Ammoland, called for LaPierre to be replaced, pointing to West being named to replace him.
According to the West announcement, he was essentially drafted by former Board members Rocky Marshall and Bill Dailey and Board candidate Frank Tait.
Ammoland has provided a platform for all sides in the debate, and it is heating up just as tens of thousands of NRA members are preparing to gather in Houston.