Category: NRA

Safeguarding the NRA

Safeguarding the NRA

The State of New York vs. The National Rifle Association

It is no secret that New York’s Attorney General filed suit against the NRA for fiscal misconduct in an effort to revoke its charter and dissolve the organization. The goal of the AG, in light of the allegations charged, suggests the effort is to remove a pro-gun organization from New York’s corporate rolls–a tacit, and extreme, manifestation of “the cancel culture.”

Earlier . . . .

In a previous post I alluded to the origins of the NRA, its checkered role in national firearm legislation, as well as its recent imbroglios, both internal and external.

Some rank-and-file members, I among them, curtailed contributions, as well as involvement, until the NRA got its house in order–if that were possible. Among those who strove to restore accountability to its leadership is the “Save the Second” group. Its goal is to “save the Second Amendment by strengthening the National Rifle Association” through encouraging rank-and-file membership engagement.

“The NRA” — A Lightning Rod For Anti-Gun Activists

The NRA’s national cachet is evident in the animus and vitriol exhibited against it by various gun control advocates, such as Michael Bloomberg, his funded and unfunded sycophants, and others.

Further evidence of the NRA’s national cachet is the goal of the suit leveled against it by New York’s Attorney General Letitia James. Rather than merely attempting to chasten the executive leadership for its allegedly illegal activity, she is attempting to dissolve the entire organization, a move that itself is fraught with problems according to one attorney.

Despite its oft-times questionable focus over the course of its 149 years, the NRA does continue to serve a valuable service in the firearm training arena, arguably sought due to the very national prestige that makes it a target for those who want it dissolved, or at least neutered.

The NRA — More Than Solely Its Leadership

A contributing factor to its cachet is the sheer number of members it claims to have. Numbers alone, however, do not depict the entire gravitas of its clout. NRA membership is vociferous in its defense of perceived infringements on “the right of the people to keep and bear arms,” however individual members may define that right explicitly. Millions of single-issue voters can exert influence on legislators, and political aspirants.

It is the organizational makeup of the NRA itself that contributes to the questionable framework of the New York Attorney General’s suit. According to Alabama attorney George Douglas, himself an NRA Life Member, there are several possible approaches the NRA membership may broach to claim bases for intervention.

  • “That the intervening NRA members will be adversely affected by a judgment in the action, and that they are not (and cannot) be adequately represented by either the New York Attorney General or the individual defendants and their counsel due to their inherent conflicts of interest.”
  • “That the New York Attorney General does not have the legal authority to assert her claims against the NRA based on the alleged wrongs of its individual leadership, and that those claims (even if true) can only be properly brought by the NRA members.”
  • “That the proper remedy for those wrongs, if they are proven, is not the dissolution of the NRA but recovery of the misspent funds from the individuals for the NRA as an entity, not for the New York Attorney General or the State.”
  • “That because of the inherent conflicts of interest between the individual defendants and the NRA as an entity, the NRA must have separate counsel who are not chosen by the individual defendants.”
  • “That both the New York Attorney General and the intervenors should therefore be allowed to proceed with proving the allegations against the individual defendants, and that if those are proven then the individual defendants should be removed from their positions and new leadership chosen by the NRA members should be put in place.”1

If my interpretation is correct, the basic tenet of Douglas’s arguments is that neither the New York Attorney General nor the State of New York are the injured parties of any alleged malfeasance conducted by the executive leadership. Rather, that distinction belongs solely to the collective membership of the NRA. Since it is they (us) who were wronged, it is they (us) who should be the beneficiaries of any adverse decisions levied against the executive leadership, and not the State of New York, as would be the case if the NRA were dissolved. It is the executive leadership who should be chastened, and not the organizational entity that is the NRA, of which the dues paying rank-and-file membership make up its bulk, and who had no executive role in any alleged malfeasance.

Is the NRA Still Relevant?

Evidence that the NRA is still relevant is the skyrocketing interest in its firearm training. According to a recent notification to NRA trainers, enrollment in firearm training increased 300% over the last 5 months. Yes, the NRA is still relevant, if only (at least for now) for its firearm training programs.

So What?

Thus, it comes down to “so?”

I believe the NRA is worth fighting for. Its stature and prestige, though diminished by these imbroglios, is still significant, and it is still widely recognized as a gun-rights organization with a national footprint (otherwise, the NY AG never would have initiated a lawsuit). Let us, the members of the NRA fight for its continued existence, as we also work to return the NRA to its stated purpose of protecting our “individual rights of self-preservation and defense of family, person, and property” as provided in Article II, Section 1 of the NRA Bylaws.

One of the ways in which we can enter the fight is to broadcast George Douglas’s assessment as far and as wide as we can. Hopefully, we can influence an NRA affiliated group(s) in New York to pursue the “intervenor” role suggested in Douglas’s article.

Another is to contribute to NRA-PVF and NRA-ILA. While we can only “trust” the NRA to use PVF and ILA contributions for their intended purposes rather than diverting them to legal defense costs, I think it is a worthwhile risk.

P. S.

Let us not forget, a change in leadership will likely lead to a change in controversial NRA positions on red-flag legislation, and bump-stock support, as well as other unfavorable 2A positions backed by the current leadership.

1Derived from an interview of George Douglas by AmmoLand Shooting Sports News, https://www.ammoland.com/2020/08/could-nra-members-intervene-to-stop-ny-suit-to-dissolve-the-nra/#ixzz6W4D0ZHHQ

The NRA: A Tale of Two Organizations-Maybe

The NRA: A Tale of Two Organizations-Maybe

The King is Dead! Long Live the King!

Anyone who has seen any of the classic movies about Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper probably remembers the phrase, “The King is dead! Long live the king!” The combination of these two clauses mark both an end, and a beginning–the first marks the end of an era, immediately followed by the arrival of a new era. So it may be with the National Rifle Association (NRA).

Organization 1 – The NRA

There is little doubt that those of us who are involved in shooting sports have at least heard of the NRA. If you have been around long enough, you probably remember the tag line that “the NRA was chartered in the state of New York in 1871 to improve the shooting skills of post-Civil War Americans by encouraging people to engage in competition shooting.” For nearly 100 years, its primary focus was target shooting, hunting, and sportsmen, with only sporadic involvement in national gun legislation. One indicator of its success is reflected in the statistic that in 1940 there were more organized gun clubs than organized golf clubs.

However, NRA detractors interested in protecting the Second Amendment are quick to point out the NRA advocated for enactment of the National Firearms Act of 1934, the Federal Firearms Act of 1938, and the Gun Control Act of 1968. Yet, since the mid-1970s, and in the wake of members’ malcontent over the 1968 GCA, the NRA incrementally shifted its focus to fighting infringements of the Second Amendment from increasingly hostile anti-gun activists, and legislatures. Although unable to suppress the passage of 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban, it was successful in promoting its sunset provisions, and the “Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA)” in 2005, an act designed to protect manufacturers from suits alleging they should have foreseen their products would be used in violent acts.

The NRA is currently caught up in several imbroglios, both internal and external. The external pressures are a function of anti-gun forces trying to reduce its lobbying influence on Congress. In one instance, New York state is investigating the NRA for alleged violations of its original charter, and non-profit status. Internally, the NRA is entangled in suits and counter-suits with its former public relations firm, and in allegations of fiscal impropriety by its Executive Vice President, as well as accusations of cronyism levied against its bloated, and sometimes figure-headed, board of directors. One result of the in-fighting is the abandonment by former NRA members from what is seen as a non-functional, unresponsive, and ineffective organization that is pro-gun in name only, and is only nominally pro-Second Amendment.

Organization 2 – The NRA

One of the recent boasts from the NRA leadership is that it has five million gun owners on its rolls. One implication from this is that there are five million voters who would resist legislation infringing on the rights of gun owners.

Another implication is that many of those five million are eligible to vote in the NRA annual elections. As a matter of note, annual members who have been so for five or more years are eligible to vote in the annual NRA elections, as are its life members. However, very few eligible members do vote annually.

The argument levied here is that instead of abandoning the NRA, we, its rank-and-file membership, should stay and fight to defeat the cronyism in the board of directors, demand accountability from the executive leadership, and restore a solid heading toward the goals of providing firearms training and education, and protecting the Second Amendment. A grass-roots assemblage of NRA members is trying just that: “Save the Second.” Its “vision is to save the Second Amendment by strengthening the National Rifle Association. We hope to grow the NRA’s membership, improve its public image, and secure the NRA’s long-term ability carry out its stated purpose of protecting our ‘individual rights of self-preservation and defense of family, person, and property,’ as provided in Article II, Section 1 of the NRA Bylaws.”

The “Save the Second” suggests the NRA can be salvaged from its current malaise and imbroglios through five goals: (1) Reducing the number of the board of directors; (2) Establishing terms limits for its board of directors; (3) Requiring board members to personally attend directors’ meetings; (4) Encouraging rank-and-file membership engagement, and thereby requiring accountability from the executive leadership and the board of directors, and (5) returning the NRA’s focus to “firearms-related activities and causes (gun safety, education & training, recreation, competition, hunting, collecting, [2A] advocacy, etc.).”

“Save the Second” has already launched an effort to achieve one of its goals; a petition from its membership proposing the adoption of an amendment to the NRA bylaws that establish attendance requirements for its directors. The next board of directors meeting convenes in September, after which the “Save the Second” promoters will publish its decision.

If you are a member, or former member, of the NRA join with “Save the Second.” Perhaps we can turn the NRA to its being a pro-firearms advocacy organization we can all be proud of supporting. Only after trying to right the ship and failing can we legitimately abandon it.