After Chaos at the Annual Convention Can NRA Turn the Tide

Opinion

Vice President Mike Pence, flanked here by NRA's Wayne Lapierre (l) and Chris Cox (r) has also appeared at the NRA Convention. (Dave Workman)

Fayetteville, AR – -(AmmoLand.com)- The NRA’s annual conference, held this year in Indianapolis, has been a cause of controversy. But not for the usual reasons surrounding the debate over gun control in America, but for the ousting of the organization’s president, Oliver North, and over questions of the leadership of Wayne LaPierre, the executive vice president, and regarding the group’s finances. These internal struggles are fighting for attention amidst stories about Russian efforts to use the NRA as a part of their interference in U.S. elections.

Picture me in the opening credits of The Simpsons, writing “I will not use a cliché. I will not use a cliché…,” but I have an urge to point out that I have expressed my concerns over the leadership and strategic thinking of the NRA in the past. Oliver North was always a problematic choice for president, given his history, and Wayne LaPierre seems to think that the Second Amendment protects his right to keep and use his job.

The problem, however, is not limited to the public faces of the organization. I’ll sound here like a one-note kazoo, but when the NRA entangles itself with the most right wing of the Republican Party, gun rights in the minds of the public are seen as something that no one in other positions on the political spectrum can or should participate. Admittedly, they hold an ill-informed opinion on the subject, but while majority views are not the source of rights, they do too many times make free exercise difficult. We have to win support left, right, and center and gun-rights organizations that surrender the field rather than seeking to win over more significant percentages of voters are tacitly accepting a loss.

What should the NRA do?

Even though the group is one of the favorite targets of the Left, its history of promoting shooting skills and safety are also a part of the legacy, and any group that will speak out for gun rights has plenty of work to do. And those are what the NRA claims to see as its purpose. Americans love the story of the prodigal son who comes back after going astray, and the most famous gun rights organization has a chance now to restructure itself.

Doing so will require a separation from the Republican Party, as I hinted at above. The American people are increasingly opposed to our system of legalized bribery that campaign financing currently is, and when a gun rights group dissipates its energy in battles over other political debates, the core mission loses. And no matter how many #Blexit campaigns or outreaches to Hispanics the right wing tries, the demographic shifts that we’re going through mean that if gun rights are seen as something that only white men care about, those rights will be entirely hypothetical in not too many years. This may be a painful message to absorb, but the NRA’s failure to speak up for Philando Castile—one example among many to choose from—speaks at a higher volume than occasional mumbling about how everyone is welcome to join.

I don’t know if the NRA has been saved. I do sincerely hope that it can be done. We who support gun rights need all the groups fighting on our side that we can get. But we need that fight directed at opponents of those rights, instead of friendly fire, and we need more allies to win.


About Greg CampGreg Camp

Greg Camp has taught English composition and literature since 1998 and is the author of six books, including a western, The Willing Spirit, and Each One, Teach One, with Ranjit Singh on gun politics in America. His books can be found on Amazon. He tweets @gregcampnc.

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    AskjelahhiyawaBernardLouJPM Recent comment authors
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    Askjel
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    Askjel

    The Republicans would sell us down the river in a heartbeat and have even done so recently.The NRA has abandoned the mission years ago. Compromise is their motto today. GOA has my support.

    ahhiyawa
    Guest
    ahhiyawa

    I was disgusted with the 1997 gutting of Neal Knox from 1st Vice and finally purged from the BOD. I believed the nomination and election of Charlton Heston as President of the NRA was wholly and deliberately an act of sabotage by Lapierre against Knox and his allies. I did not abandon the NRA. With the rise of La-Pierre and company I observed the transformation of the NRA from a 2nd amendment advocacy org into a political front group for the Republican party. Sacrificing a non-partisan, a-political stance literally put all our eggs into one basket, with a highly unreliable… Read more »

    Lou
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    Lou

    I can not bring myself to contribute another dime until Wayne and his toadies are GONE.

    You do understand that Wayne and his “Boys” have been enriching themselves to the tune of
    many millions of dollars from contributed funds, and there is clear malfeasance of office,

    Will Flatt
    Guest
    Will Flatt

    NRA is not going to turn the tide till the BOD surgically excises the LaPierre machine from its midst. The fact that the BOD is protecting LaPierre shows they’re also part of the problem; and the way the BOD and voting for board members is structured keeps the membership from reforming the organization as a whole.

    NRA is a lost cause and the sooner gun owners realize that and start supporting other groups like GOA, this farce will end.

    Graystone
    Guest
    Graystone

    GMB. I will be looking for that list as well.
    The reason there are 76 directors is because so many Do Not show up for board meetings (e.g. M. Hammer, etc.) that it takes that vast a number to assemble the minimum for a quorum. As someone said even large corporations seem to manage quite well with 9 – 12 board members, who BTW attend and participate in the business at hand.

    GNewman
    Guest
    GNewman

    Why would they side with the anti-gun democrat party? Everything the democrats want is anti-gun. Seems to me if your a democrat & want to keep your guns then leave that crappy party like the rest of us did. You want your guns but support abortion?

    Donttreadonme
    Guest
    Donttreadonme

    I agree with other commenters that turning away from the Republican Party is not a good idea. Although I agree with the author that reaching out to minorities and women in trying to strengthen support from these groups would be huge. The single biggest thing that will help keep both NRA members and non member gun owners loyal to the NRA is if the NRA stops compromising and throwing support behind things like a bump stock ban, or red flag laws; that are grossly unconstitutional. So long as the NRA keep supporting anti-gun legislation, they will continue to lose support… Read more »

    Texas Jim
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    Texas Jim

    AMEN ….

    Old Law Prof
    Guest
    Old Law Prof

    Correct.

    Bernard
    Guest
    Bernard

    Absolutely!

    JDC
    Guest
    JDC

    NRA reform should be a top priority. Do away with a 76 member board of directors…which in itself virtually guarantees paralysis. Put 9-12 real directors who give clear guidance to the executives, then hold them to the execution. No more letting the executives just spend the $ however they want, and achieving limited to no results. For too long, the NRA has taken credit for gun owner’s successes and shrugged off where the NRA has made mistakes or failed. Time to set some performance expectations for the entire NRA staff. To do less will be to allow “more of the… Read more »

    Lawman45
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    Lawman45

    The are not 5 Directors on the NRA Board who have clean hands and are not Wayne-worshipers. An impossible TOTAL housekeeping is needed. There is no hope for the NRA.
    Former NRA Director.

    BillyM
    Guest
    BillyM

    Really? are we supposed to know you Lawman45?

    C. Mc
    Guest
    C. Mc

    I’m done, letting my subscription expire. I’ll stay with TX State Rifle Assn. and GOA.

    Hugh
    Guest
    Hugh

    I guess you sell your stock market is down also. Jump ship instead of trying to save the NRA.

    Charlie Foxtrot
    Guest
    Charlie Foxtrot

    So, you keep your stocks until they are worthless, knowing that the leadership and a vendor are involved in shady and potentially criminal dealings and one sues the other. That’s an interesting investment strategy! Your premise that the NRA can be saved by keep paying into it is flat-out wrong. It is exactly the attitude that got us here in the first place. The NRA can only be saved with a change of leadership and bylaws. That is simply not going to happen if the money flow continues no matter what. The apathy demonstrated by NRA members is the reason… Read more »

    Rex
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    Rex

    I believe most NRA members would gladly take action against the lame folks who raided the treasury of the NRA. I among them. It is pretty simple. You or I write to them and they don’t listen. OK so what do you suggest and the next move? I am not in a position where I can go there and face them. So what choice is left. They see this and know they are beyond recourse.

    Charlie Foxtrot
    Guest
    Charlie Foxtrot

    Withhold any funding that just perpetuates this nonsense!

    Regularly write the NRA Board of Directors! Some of them do actually listen, but their powers are limited.

    Yes, you CAN go there and face them. Attend the NRA Member’s Meeting at next year’s NRA Annual Meeting in Nashville and publicly demand accountability! (See this video on what happened this year: https://youtu.be/SMBuZcjb7mw. Ignore the clapping and the comments by GunWebsites.)

    Join gun rights organizations, such as the Gun Owners of America, the Second Amendment Foundation and the Firearms Policy Coalition! Join your state’s gun rights organization!

    Green Mtn. Boy
    Guest
    Green Mtn. Boy

    In case you weren’t aware the Trying to Save the NRA has been going on since the mid 1970’s it is not new.

    m.
    Guest
    m.

    no on the bonnen-loving txra. try open carry texas, texas gun rights

    Scott
    Guest
    Scott

    Separating from the Republican Party is NOT a good idea. Though not perfect, the Republican Party is the anti-dote to the Democrat Party’s extreme views on gun control. It is the “extreme right wing” that are the most pro gun rights and it’s simply stupid to attempt to dissociate from them. “Moderates” aka liberals from either party, have proven they cannot be trusted with upholding our rights. Not just gun rights, but many rights guaranteed to us by the Constitution. When Democrats win at the ballot box, we lose. When and if Democrats gain control of both Houses and the… Read more »

    JMR
    Guest
    JMR

    They clearly don’t even care. So why would they change?

    Gr4een Mtn. Boy
    Guest
    Gr4een Mtn. Boy

    JMR Nailed it !
    With out a wholesale house clearing of the organization including the Board Of Directors,who act as enablers to the malfeasance that has and is occurring at Negotiating Rights Away.
    Next year if there isn’t a published list of the directors who voted to retain La Pee,I do not intend on voting for any sitting Director as they are as corrupt as La Pee,Powell,Cox and Hammer.

    Graystone
    Guest
    Graystone

    GMB. I will be looking for that list as well.
    The reason there are 76 directors is because so many Do Not show up for board meetings (e.g. M. Hammer, etc.) that it takes that vast a number to assemble the minimum for a quorum. As someone said even large corporations seem to manage quite well with 9 – 12 board members, who BTW attend and participate in the business at hand.

    SQWRLZ
    Guest
    SQWRLZ

    I’ve long wished the NRA(ILA) would return to their libertarian roots as a rights organization, because they’ve tied themselves through their leadership’s direction to a single political party. A party that, by and large, ostensibly supports their mission, for now, but many of whose members I have ideological differences with and cannot vote for. The calls for “gun safety” by leftists should be embraced (and redirected) by the NRA to promote, loudly and widely on screens everywhere, their training programs like basic pistol, shotgun, and rifle. I bet the common man on the street right now wouldn’t even know that… Read more »

    Nanashi
    Guest
    Nanashi

    The training and safety courses are the vast minority of NRA funding. They’re single digit percent.

    Nanashi
    Guest
    Nanashi

    The only turn the NRA is making is capsizing. They had their choice. They could have remove LaPierre and Cox last week. Instead they continued over the cliff. They choose not to purge the corruption themselves, so it will be purged by the New York legal system instead.

    JPM
    Guest
    JPM

    So very true. The corruptions of LaPierre and his minions are so ingrained that they cannot be corrected in house as proven once again last week. If New York succeeds in taking down LaPierre when the membership cannot, then so be it and good riddance to the corruption. It’s not like the B.S. Wall Street bailout where the claim was made that an organization was, “Too big to fail” and needed to be propped up with Billions of tax dollars. NRA, if it has violated laws under LaPierre, deserves to fail and when it does, something better will fill the… Read more »