Open Letter to NRA Members, Directors, and Executives

Opinion by Harold Hutchison

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Open Letter to NRA Members, Directors, and Executives

United States – -(AmmoLand.com)- I have been defending the Second Amendment in one form or another for 25 years, ranging from opposing gun control in debates during AP government class to professional involvement in a variety of capacities, not the least of which includes my columns at AmmoLand News. I am proud to be among those standing between those who would impose the types of cruel injustice that we have seen occur in New Zealand this year at the hands of Jacinda Ardern and American citizens who wish to exercise their rights.

The present situation is a very dire one – and I have said so on this site on multiple occasions. So, with my 25 years of perspective, I would like to address NRA members, the Board of Directors, and the executives of the NRA.

First, to the NRA members. I can state with complete confidence that Duane Liptak spoke the truth about the staff at NRA earlier this year. I should know – I was one of them. I took the calls and answered letters from members during the fight to stop Bill Clinton’s effort to exploit the Columbine shooting for the purpose of wiping out gun shows. That no new legislation passed whatsoever is a testament to the tactics and strategy NRA used in May and June of 1999.

Let me talk for a bit about the tactics and strategy part. I think that the vast majority of AmmoLand readers want to see gun laws that infringe on the rights of law-abiding citizens guns gone. The problem is, we’re not at a place to get to that objective in a relatively short timeframe. We’re actually pretty far, despite the progress made on many fronts.

It will take electing Senators and Representatives willing to vote down those laws that infringe upon our rights. It will take seeing that judges who will uphold the Second Amendment get confirmed to courts. To get the Congressional majorities and the judges needed to accomplish that objective, we need to make sure that enough voters will either support such repeal, or at the very least not view that as a deal-breaker. That takes lots of work, making good arguments that are fact-based, being mindful of how our defense of the Second Amendment comes across, and building a pro-Second Amendment culture across the country. Even then, we are at the mercy of events, and we can be certain that the likes of Michael Bloomberg won't just sit by and let us regain our rights.

That said, living in the Washington, D.C., area is not cheap. If anything, NRA staffers are badly underpaid, especially given today’s reality of blacklisting and social stigmatization. These days, it can go beyond even that. Chris Cox had his house vandalized. NRATV host Dana Loesch had to move her family because of threats stemming from her support of the Second Amendment. That’s just what made the news. There’s the other stuff that won’t make the headlines. It’ll be the prospective employer seeing NRA on a resume and deciding not to hire. It could be harassment at a store or restaurant. It could be neighbors shunning them or refusing to let their kids play with the kids of NRA employees.

NRA employees, as well as the members of the Board of Directors and the executives, all make sacrifices to defend the Second Amendment. Sometimes, it’s just time and potential earnings from more lucrative opportunities. Other times, it’s not getting a job, or someone declining to rent to them. Cox and Loesch have faced really bad aspects of this, vandalism and threats. All of that stuff, by the way, meets with non-condemnation or even approval from the media.

I can get having tactical or strategic differences with the NRA’s defense of the Second Amendment. I can understand concerns about the financial situation of that organization. But to imply that NRA’s staff, Board of Directors, or executives don’t care about preserving our rights shows a level of disregard for the sacrifices these people have made that is unfathomable and reprehensible.

Speaking of the financial stuff: I know there is controversy over NRA Carry Guard, and whether or not it steps on USCCA’s toes. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t, but that is a minor matter in a free market. Its legality has also been disputed. Here’s what you should know on that front: There are a number of major non-profits – some you have heard of – which have involvement with various insurance products (at the very least) that go far beyond NRA Carry Guard. For instance, the American Association of Retired Persons has worked with the Hartford to provide auto and homeowners insurance for its members. Cuomo’s response? Crickets.

But here are two other places to look: The American Bar Association has its own insurance setup to benefit its members, with a wide variety of products. The American Medical Association runs its own insurance company. Look at all the products that the company is offering, some of which are specially designed for its members.

Andrew Cuomo and Letitia James haven’t even bothered looking at those two set-ups, which are far more extensive than NRA Carry Guard is. Yet it’s NRA Carry Guard that is targeted. Their actions are akin to the abusive John Doe investigations in Wisconsin. This is intended to punish the NRA for opposing their radical agenda; in Cuomo’s case, this beef goes back for two decades.

I know this present infighting is causing a lot of doubt and uncertainty. I wish it weren’t happening. I wish things had gone better, and I wish the NRA had gotten its act together sooner. But we can’t change the past. We can only move forward, learn the lessons, and try to do better on all fronts. The new changes are a start, but only a start.

In that, I will say that Scott Bach and Larry Potterfield are slightly off base: I have seen no proof of deliberate, premeditated malfeasance or any scheme for personal enrichment as alleged by long-running critics of Wayne LaPierre. That being said, it is obvious, based on a fair bit of 20/20 hindsight, that the NRA Board of Directors and the executives, including LaPierre, were not as vigilant as they could – or should – have been vis-à-vis Ackerman-McQueen and that corners were cut.

NRA and Ack-Mac apparently worked together well for decades before their relationship falling apart, and the track record of success over the years is a sign that the NRA clearly did get value for what was spent – even if it might not have been the best value. When things are going well, the understandable “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” adage can take hold. The demise of the relationship, as necessary as it was due to recent events, will be a loss for those defending the Second Amendment.

As for those who have been very critical of Wayne LaPierre and who have held back donations: You need to decide if you hate Wayne LaPierre more than you care about the Second Amendment.

The NRA is in an existential fight with Andrew Cuomo, and if they lose this, there is no safe harbor – the same attacks the Cuomo-James regime is using on NRA will be turned on the Second Amendment Foundation, Firearms Policy Coalition, Gun Owners of America, and United States Concealed Carry Association. There will be no safe harbor.

At the very least, do not punish NRA-ILA and NRA-PVF for the failures of Wayne – keep supporting legislative efforts and the political work needed to keep pro-Second Amendment lawmakers in office and to remove those hostile to our rights. [nra-pvf & nraila are independently funded and do not share funding or monies with nra proper]

NRA Board of Directors

Now, to the NRA Board of Directors: There is a crisis of confidence in the NRA’s leadership. Most of the fault can be laid at the feet of Andrew Cuomo’s abuses. But some of it falls on you as well. Mostly, it was sins of omission, because there was a great deal of success from the NRA’s long collaboration with Ack-Mac. Nobody wants to rock the boat when things seem to be working well. The demise of the relationship and what looks like a lengthy legal battle with this former vendor will be damaging.

But the sins of omission don’t just stem from the Ack-Mac relationship. They also involve being asleep when it was obvious the threat of the abuse of power by those in government was rising. After the 2013 revelation of the IRS scandal, and Andrew Cuomo’s famous declaration the following year that Second Amendment supporters had “no place” in New York, there should have been a thorough and sober assessment of potential vulnerabilities, and a tightening up of things going forward and if the Ack-Mac/NRA divorce was to happen, it wouldn’t happen in the middle of an existential fight.

That extra time, over three years, could have had NRA better prepared for Cuomo’s abusive assault, maybe to the point that Cuomo wouldn’t have even tried it. But the lack of preparation goes beyond the Cuomo assault. The threats from corporate gun control and Silicon Valley also seem to have caught NRA by surprise to some degree.

There is a way to regain that confidence and end the legal fighting. An audit of the NRA and Ack-Mac that is conducted by an outside firm could help resolve both the financial issues and the crisis in confidence while also helping to develop policies to ensure that NRA does better in getting the most value for the members’ money.

There also needs to be some work done to anticipate future threats. Andrew Cuomo’s career has been made with trying to find back doors to render the Second Amendment meaningless, even when legislation is voted down, and politicians are voted out. These latest abusive attacks have already hampered NRA badly. Do we want to be caught by surprise the next time? Will NRA survive a next time?

Finally, to address the NRA executives, including Wayne LaPierre. Mr. LaPierre, you’ve done well through so many battles. After Sandy Hook, the NRA kept anti-Second Amendment legislation from passing at the federal level, as it did after Columbine. NRA helped defeat the use of lawsuits by big-city mayors to force gun manufacturers into compliance or bankruptcy. The concealed carry situation has greatly improved from where it was in 1984.

That being said, like the Board of Directors, you did not maintain the vigilance that you could and should have maintained over Ack-Mac. You failed to foresee the new threats to our rights and have a plan to mitigate or defeat them. Those failures helped put the NRA into this position.

Regrettably, you have become a lightning rod for criticism aside from the aforementioned failures, most of which is unfair. At this point, you can best serve NRA by announcing a controlled plan to step down on our terms, not the media's or the anti gunner's, after the 2020 election, with a replacement to be selected at the 2021 NRA Annual Meeting.

The good news is that you stepping down will free up resources NRA needs to defeat Andrew Cuomo. Just as your critics need to decide if the defense of the Second Amendment is more important than their dislike of you, you need to decide if the defense of the Second Amendment is more important than you.

I think that we all can agree that the defense of the Second Amendment is much more powerful when we have a strong and united NRA. It is my hope that the NRA can overcome its internal squabbles and focus on electing pro-Second Amendment candidates to federal, state, and local offices. The stakes in 2020 are very high, and could very well be for all the marbles.


Harold Hu, chison
Harold Hutchison

About Harold Hutchison

Writer Harold Hutchison has more than a dozen years of experience covering military affairs, international events, U.S. politics and Second Amendment issues. Harold was consulting senior editor at Soldier of Fortune magazine and is the author of the novel Strike Group Reagan. He has also written for the Daily Caller, National Review, Patriot Post, Strategypage.com, and other national websites.

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    Wild BillRoyDConsiderthisjakCircle8 Recent comment authors
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    jak
    Member
    jak

    I have been a life member for 45 years and I must say I am very disappointed in how things are going right now when we need to be pulling together. I am extremely disappointed in how Wayne LaPierre sit there knowing that he is a major disruption and is going to be the main cause of the destruction to the NRA. It’s time he steps aside and does what is right for the members instead of what is right for his bank account. I am about ready to quit the NRA something I never thought I would ever consider.… Read more »

    Circle8
    Member
    Circle8

    I read this article and the responses. Based on some of the comments I had to re-read the article since some comments appear to be non-related. There is so much emotion in the comments many failed to address the information in the article. I have been a life member for about 50 years and I believe have voted in each NRA election even when out of the country. Like many members I do not like what has been going on during the last few years because “EGO’s” have ruled. Protection of our CONSTITUTIONAL given rights are what is important and… Read more »

    Bill
    Member
    Bill

    It seems about time for Wayne LaPierre to personally speak on all this nonsense, issue some formal statements, and tell us exactly how he plans to clear things up. Evidently, the Board of Directors is fairly much a rubber stamp for him, so he would be the one to speak, and then act, to set things right. This is not a good time for him to be like George W. Bush, who went into his office late in his game to hide from criticism and wish that it would just go away.

    pigpen51
    Member
    pigpen51

    I have never read anything from Harold. In fact I don’t even know who he is. But after this article, I know exactly who he is. That is not a compliment. Larry Potterfield is a respected man in the industry. Normally his endorsement would be enough to make me a believer. But when the likes of men such as Michael Bane, and Tom Gresham speak up and call for WLP to step down, it holds more water. And it really is just a matter of time before the leadership of the NRA is gone. The issue will be, how much… Read more »

    RayB
    Member
    RayB

    This is my reply to poster “Considerthis” from August 1. Sorry, I can’t find his original post. Maybe if you did some research you would not “…feel sorry for Scott L. Bach and the owners of firearms in his state”, and regarding our 2nd amendment rights that we are “not much better off than slaves”. You seem to be blaming NJ gun owners for electing anti-gun politicians who want to spread their agenda nationwide. Maybe I can steer you to some research and hope that you may change your mind about us. NJ is a leftist state, just like many… Read more »

    Colie
    Member
    Colie

    I would not trust anything said in opposition nor in favor of the NRA people on the staff. In the past I have suggested changes on how we can prevent the exploitation of the NRA. I would remind the membership that the best defense is an offense! During the 2016 election when Clinton was a shoe in t for election, the news showed on television different celebration victory parties around the country. One from New York City, showed some election staffers crowing about how they beat the electoral voting in the city: “We load busses with people, that we pay… Read more »

    Considerthis
    Member
    Considerthis

    Thank you, RayB for your response, and thank you for considering my comments. Both you and Mr. Scott Bach should be respected and held in high esteem for all that you do to promote and educate about the shooting sports. Thank you for providing the link to the ANJRPC website. It was educational ! I learned all about your magazine capacity laws, limits, regulations and legal penalties. I learned that everyone does not agree with the infringements you live with on the magazine limits and your “May Issue” carry permit status. I learned that some do not accept all these… Read more »

    RoyD
    Member
    RoyD

    I am sure that RayB is comforted by the fact that the citizens of China are also allowed to attend church.

    Wild Bill
    Member
    Wild Bill

    @RoyD, Yeah, this RoyB person thinks that he has it good that he only has to drive an hour each way to utilize a shooting range that his shooting is restricted to. I walk to the door, and shoot off the porch.
    Restricted like someone made the decision for you and imposed it on you. Like chains, a brand or tattoo.

    USMC0351Grunt
    Member

    ” think that the vast majority of AmmoLand readers want to see gun laws that infringe on the rights of law-abiding citizens guns gone. The problem is, we’re not at a place to get to that objective in a relatively short timeframe. We’re actually pretty far, despite the progress made on many fronts.” You are babbling on about a time Gap that spanned over 20 years of basically nothing being done other than rights and privileges being stripped from the citizens. 1775 to 1781, it took 3% of the colonists 7 years to accomplish what the NRA has not been… Read more »

    Will
    Member
    Will

    GOA ! “THE ONLY NO-COMPROMISE GUN LOBBY IN WASHINGTON” !

    1776 Patriot
    Member
    1776 Patriot

    The next couple months will probably determine the future and perhaps survivability of the NRA. IF WLP and certain of his sycophantic BOD step down willingly and quickly, they will demonstrate that, even with their mistakes, they have the best interests of NRA members and the Second Amendment at heart. If they don’t, the NRA may be ruined completely as members leave and go to true, pro Second Amendment organizations. Ladies and gentlemen of the current NRA leadership, where do you stand, with us or against us? YOUR decisions will likely determine if the NRA survives as an effective champion… Read more »

    Considerthis
    Member
    Considerthis

    Who ever is in charge of Ammoland must include Harold because they think we are apathetic , and Harold will anger us and make us get motivated. For those of us that are already motivated and have been involved probably before Harold was in diapers, Harold is an irritant. We know he lies by omission . He says Cuomo doesn’t bother AARP for selling insurance like they have the NRA. Of course he doesn’t, AARP opposes Second Amendment Rights. AARP takes money from old folks and uses it to get control passed. Cuomo will not mess with an organization that… Read more »

    Will
    Member
    Will

    Harold is a little weasel looking pissant !

    Dave C
    Member
    Dave C

    Obviously, you did not take the Dale Carnegie course…..

    Jeff
    Member
    Jeff

    I disagree. I have no opposition to an open discussion. Harold has the right to state his case and Ammoland is right to publish it. I disagree with Harold, too, but don’t want him silenced. My hope is he will report back to his masters what the members really feel about the NRA leadership.

    Patriot Life Member #217710449

    Will
    Member
    Will

    @Jeff,I never said that Harold couldn’t spew his lies and bullshit about LaPierre and the NRA. I just said the fool looks like a pissant weasel. I have zero respect for anyone that continues to berate members by implying that we are the problem. LaPierre and the scumbag BOD betrayed us,…BETRAYED US !

    JIAZ
    Member
    JIAZ

    “What a fool believes, he sees
    No wise man has the power, to reason away
    What seems to be
    Is always better than nothing
    There’s nothing at all
    But what a fool believes, he sees”
    Michael McDonald / Kenny Loggins

    https://helpsavethenra.com/articles-related-to-what-is-going-on-at-the-nra/

    joefoam
    Member
    joefoam

    I stopped reading the article when you whined about underpaid staffers. While WLP is parading around in $10k suits and his pals are billing the organization $100K per day, the staff is underpaid. How about spreading the money around to the people that really make a difference?

    Jeff
    Member
    Jeff

    The NRA needs to cut expenses to make up for lost donations from members who no longer believe in the leadership and Board. Here’s something to help with expenses and I will tell you for free — Quit wasting postage on snail mail! Send emails instead. Let members opt for paper or electronic mailings.

    Wild Bill
    Member
    Wild Bill

    WLP’s ability to bring in so many donations is why he was well thought of. WLP is just a lobbyist who is a “good earner” He is not a firearms enthusiast. To WLP, the NRA is just an opportunity to have a big salary and expense account. If the National Snowflake Association would have presented itself as a better option, WLP would have gone with them, and the NSFA would be his cash cow. Milk that cow, Wayne.

    Jeff
    Member
    Jeff

    Harold, the membership no longer supports the NRA leadership or the BOD. As to the staffers, I am certain you are correct — they work hard and are underpaid. But being underpaid in NOT a problem for WLP. The NRA could give every staffer a raise by cutting back on WLP’s gold-plated expense account and especially by reducing legal expenses. Only true reform will get the membership behind the NRA’s leadership. 1) First, retire WLP and remove his cronies. 2) Full audit of expenses 3) Changes to the Board. We need new blood and new ideas and we also absolutely… Read more »

    Jeff
    Member
    Jeff

    2) should be full audit of expenditures.

    Ol' Sapper
    Member
    Ol' Sapper

    Jeff, you and I are paddling the same boat. I am a Benefactor member and have been a Life member since the ’80s. I fully agree with your three points and refuse to send any more money to any of the NRA until WLP is GONE.

    Rockman1977
    Member
    Rockman1977

    I do believe that our rights as gun owners and supporters of the Constitution are much stronger and more protected with a functioning NRA ! To that end I will continue to support the NRA and all of the Good things that have been accomplished by the National Rifle Association! I am a rank-in-file Life member! I also encourage other members to continue their support of the NRA. We are being attacked from several directions and the only way to survive is to pull together and remember our goals! With Respect, Raymond Hudson, Life Member

    Jeff
    Member
    Jeff

    The NRA seems pretty disfunctional right now. How is giving more money for expense accounts and over-billed legal fees going to help protect our rights?

    Will
    Member
    Will

    @Jeff,our 2A rights can really be protected by joining GOA ! The NRA is done !….that old dog don’t hunt !

    Will
    Member
    Will

    @Rockman,the NRA is done,done ! GOA is now top dog in this thing. GOA membership/donations is going through the roof too. Remember one critical thing,..it’s not the size of the dog in the fight,its the size of the fight in the dog ! GOA,”THE ONLY NO-COMPROMISE GUN LOBBY IN WASHINGTON” Rand Paul R- Kentucky

    CDR-C
    Member
    CDR-C

    Harold – your write-up is well laid out, well-written, and respectful. Unfortunately, we cannot say as much about many of the responses.

    As far as the NRA goes, yes there are issues, yes there are changes needed – but it’s still the best (most effective) fighter we have in our gym. We stop feeding it at our own peril.

    Will
    Member
    Will

    @CDR,The best fighter in “our gym” ? You are speaking for a lot of members,former members, who have told the NRA to go to hell. Most have already moved on to greener pastures like GOA ! It’s just that being betrayed by a trust is like a bad meal,….It’s really hard to digest,and even harder to forget.

    Oldvet
    Member
    Oldvet

    @CDR…Your fighter has gotten FAT. LAZY, and Pampered !!!

    Will
    Member
    Will

    To condense Harold’s BS into one sentence …..”if you don’t support the NRA and LaPierre,the 2A will be gone forever” ! The NRA,and scumbag,thieving coward LaPierre,sold out and betrayed all of its “former members”,and betrayed the 2A. The NRA will probably we gone forever,but the 2A will thrive ! GOA The only no-compromise gun lobby in Washington.

    Renov8
    Member
    Renov8

    Harold…you still playing semantic games…it sure sounds like it…keep it up POS.

    ahhiyawa
    Member
    ahhiyawa

    Harold , the universe will not implode because the NRA will be virtually impotent during the 2020 election cycle. So long as Trump lies loudly & often enough about being pro 2A, between now and 3 Nov 2020 next, I suspect more than enough gun owners will vote the false 2A prophet to another 4 year term. From a 2A standpoint, the only important fact regarding Trump is the appointment of conservative, constitutional judges to the bench. That’s through, when and how the 2A community will be able to overthrow Trump’s wrongful usurpation’s of 2A rights and advance the cause.… Read more »

    Jeff
    Member
    Jeff

    Trump’s not as strong on the 2A as some might want, but what was and is the alternative? The other side wants to disarm the citizens.

    I am worried about what the White House will do in wake of this weekend’s tragic shootings.

    ahhiyawa
    Member
    ahhiyawa

    He’s strong on everything else I believe in, but his anti-gun, New Yorker menatalisms ooze out of his mouth like a diseased, suppurating wound. Most likely he’ll pound ‘red flag’ laws down our throats due to the cover Lapierre and Cox provided him. I wonder what his attitude about the NRA is today due to its roiling and public troubles? What he thought before the blowup sure as hell was not all that great. One thing he must know is the NRA will not be as strong in 2020 as in 2016, and the two executive goofs are toxic, like… Read more »

    USMC0351Grunt
    Member

    Then understand why the Second Amendment exists in the first place and grow a set of balls, keep your powder dry and stay frosty!

    USA
    Member
    USA

    Right.

    Will
    Member
    Will

    @USMC,great advice fo sure !

    Will
    Member
    Will

    @Jeff,as long as scumbag LaPierre stays out of Trumps ear everything should be fine.

    Autsin Miller III
    Member
    Autsin Miller III

    Harold, I appreciate your twenty five years experience but from someone with more than double that please let me share with you that most of us don’t hate Wayne, we just believe (for a variety of reasons) that he should be replaced, the BOD should be reduced to a reasonable number and the NRA should live out it’s mandate. Some of us (I don’t speak for any group) feel that withdrawing our support is the only way to get the NRA’s attention. A formal letter of resignation (with our without an exit plan) is a great first step and in… Read more »

    ahhiyawa
    Member
    ahhiyawa

    Harold….on our side? Not a fat chance.

    Dave in Fairfax
    Editor
    Dave in Fairfax

    Harold, We aren’t talking about STAFFER’S pay, we’re talking about WLP’s pay. I doubt the staffers keep some on the side in a paid-for apt. I’m sorry that Cox and Loesch got targeted, but they aren’t the only ones, they just got paid to be targets. NRA has, for years, promoted politicians who vote against the 2A by giving the “A” grades. You cannot blame membership for the actions of WLP when the hand-picked BoD backs him up and in NOT responsive to that membership. Or any director who disagrees with him. When BoD members are picked based on whim… Read more »

    Charlie Foxtrot
    Member
    Charlie Foxtrot

    FYI: NRA staff is paid crap and thier pension fund has been frozen, all the while the NRA leadership makes several thousand Dollars to LaPierre’s over one million and has golden parachutes. The NRA’s leadership’s priorities are pretty clear on that.

    Charlie Foxtrot
    Member
    Charlie Foxtrot

    Edit: “several thousand Dollars” => “several hundred thousand Dollars”

    Charlie Foxtrot
    Member
    Charlie Foxtrot

    The world according to Harold Hutchison, rewriting history and misstating facts as usual. Does the AARP has an Annual Members meeting that they prohibited Geico, Progressive and other insurance companies from exhibiting? NO! Does the AARP sell the insurance through its wholly-owned insurance company (using a back insurance like every other insurance) or do they offer NEGOTIATED GROUP DISCOUNTS through EXISTING INSURANCE COMPANIES? It’s the latter! You analogy is nonsense! The USCCA was exhibiting at the NRA Annual Meeting for years. Then the NONPROFIT NRA decided to get in to a FOR-PROFIT business adventure by COPYING the USCCA’s successful business… Read more »

    Will
    Member
    Will

    ERPO’s,bump stock bans,Suppressor bans,fighting against CC in one state after another,including Texas ! Is that how scumbag LaPierre fights for and defends our 2A freedoms Harold ? ….By advocating for this treasonous legislation in direct violation of the 2A to the Constitution, Harold ?

    Will
    Member
    Will

    The GOA is defending our 2A freedoms like it’s suppose to be done ! 24/7 365 !

    Will
    Member
    Will

    More of the same bullshit from Harold. Give it up Harold !