UPDATED: As the embattled National Rifle Association’s Board of Directors gathered to meet Monday in Indianapolis following a contentious members’ meeting Saturday and crowded exhibit hall featuring “acres” of guns and gear, New York Attorney General Letitia James—no friend of the organization—announced she was launching an investigation of NRA and issuing subpoenas.
James has called the NRA a “terrorist organization,” as noted by the Huffington Post and others.
Much attention is focused on internal strife, especially as it related to what was variously described as a failed attempt to oust veteran Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre in the midst of a management “crisis” or, as one member privately suggested Sunday was “a circular pissing match.”
BULLETIN: Wayne LaPierre was re-elected unanimously Monday to another term as Executive Vice President of the NRA, according to The American Rifleman, the NRA’s official publication.
Also retaining their offices are Chris W. Cox as executive director of the Institute for Legislative Action, John Frazer as NRA Secretary and general counsel, and Craig Spray as NRA Treasurer.
The NRA Board of Directors also elected Carolyn Meadows to the office of president, succeeding Lt. Col. Oliver North, who declined to run for a second term. The board also named Charles L. Cotton as first vice president and Willes Lee as second vice president.
Even President Donald Trump interjected himself into the situation Monday, according to the New York Daily News, by tweeting, “The NRA is under siege by (Gov. Andrew) Cuomo and the New York State A.G., who are illegally using the State’s legal apparatus to take down and destroy this very important organization, & others…It must get its act together quickly, stop the internal fighting, & get back to GREATNESS – FAST!”
It is not clear how Trump determined what Cuomo and James have done is illegal.
What does seem clear is that the 148-year-old organization, which has become the premier Second Amendment group in the nation, could be in the fight of its life. According to the National Review, there are allegations of financial mismanagement, simultaneous legal actions—one involving James’ investigation of NRA and the other NRA’s lawsuit against longtime public relations provider Ackerman-McQueen—and what appeared to be a revolt by several NRA members during the Saturday members’ meeting.
Several people had suggested that LaPierre step down or be removed, while others including several board members stood behind him during the members’ meeting, and that obviously held through Monday’s Board of Directors meeting. He has been at the association’s helm for more than a quarter-century, and he is the most recognizable public face of the gun rights movement.
Internal strife is not a new thing for NRA. There was the famous “Revolt in Cincinnati” in 1977. During the 1990s there was bitter infighting between factions, and now the NRA is embroiled in another internal fight while anti-gun officials in New York state, where the organization is incorporated, seem determined to hammer the NRA into oblivion.
If the NRA is damaged, it would spell big trouble during the 2020 presidential elections, a prospect that can only bring smiles to the gun prohibition lobby. The anti-gun left has long wanted to derail the NRA, and what better way to accomplish that, some observers suggest, than to have the organization fighting on two fronts, one on the inside and one on the outside, at the same time and very much in public.
Already on social media, and even from some people attending the weekend convention, there are rumblings about withholding donations or sending money elsewhere.
On top of this, Everytown for Gun Safety, the gun control lobbying group, filed a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service earlier this month asking for an investigation of the NRA’s tax-exempt status, based largely on a detailed story in the New Yorker.
This controversy is not likely to fade anytime soon.