Opinion by Virginia's Bob Sadtler
Editors Note: This op-ed now overlaps with breaking news that Chris Cox today resigned from the NRA-ILA.
Virginia – -(AmmoLand.com)- It has been very popular to vilify the NRA's Wayne LaPierre these days. I'm not a fan myself. However, it is not entirely fair to lay all wrongs at NRA at LaPierre's feet. A bit of history is helpful here.
On Wednesday, May 7th, 1986, then Executive Vice President Ray Arnett (Harlon Carter's single greatest mistake) summoned Public Education Director John Aquilino into his office. Arnett fired all 17 members of the Public Ed Division and gave them until noon to clear out. He then brought in Ackerman/McQueen, without bidding the work, and gave them the keys to the candy store.
(LaPierre was, at the time, “only” head of Federal)
Arnett let in more scandal later that year. LaPierre's boss at ILA, Warren Cassidy, succeeded Arnett. Cassidy “served” as EVP from 1986-1991, at which point, LaPierre took the top job…28 years ago! Talk about a need for term limits!
LaPierre is not the source of NRA's corruption, Arnett was. However, it is entirely fair to say that LaPierre is the greatest, ugliest SYMPTOM of that corruption. A swollen, ulcerated, pussing symptom, some might say. Ack/Mac has been enriching him since day one.
Many suggestions have been put forth to fix the NRA. So far, I like them all: Shrinking the Board, term limits, narrowing organizational focus, etc. However, I would like to see one additional protection: THE HEAD OF ILA SHOULD BE BARRED FROM TAKING THE TOP SLOT!
A lobbyist running the organization is a recipe for inaction and a conflict of interest. Think of it this way: Would you go to your boss and say, “Hey, I know how you can make my position totally irrelevant!” Of course, you wouldn't. Well, the lobbyists at ILA won't, either. The last thing that they ever want is to win the day for gun owners. They need a boogeyman, or better boogeymen, to “justify” their suckling at your teats.
The last two EVPs were both promoted from ILA. The results have been self-defeating and duplicitous. Let LaPierre be the last! Let the next (and all future) EVP come from Education or Conservation!
About Bob Sadtler
Bob Sadtler has been a Gun Owners' Lobbyist at the Virginia General Assembly since 2010. He has not yet bothered to renounce his Life Membership at NRA, but the day is young.