One Board Member’s Last-Ditch Effort to Save the NRA

by Stephen Gutowski
The original of this article first appeared at The importance of this article is a must-read for NRA members if they have any hope of course correcting the leadership failures of the current NRA board.

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USA – -( Phillip Journey has spent his entire adult life advocating for gun rights. He has been a judge, a legislator, and an activist. He’s served as the president of the Kansas State Rifle Association. Now he’s a member of the NRA board, and he’s taking on one of the gun-rights movement’s highest-profile leaders: NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre.

And he’s appealing directly to NRA members for help.

He said members need to choose between two paths. Either stick with LaPierre’s leadership and try to fight the NRA’s dissolution in New York court or go with his plan to get a court-appointed NRA members’ committee to oversee leadership changes and reform the group.

“It’s a pretty easy choice,” Journey told The Reload. “The bottom line is the consequences have such a steep downside that we have to fix things. The future of the Second Amendment and the Republic itself is at stake.”

He is currently trying to raise $100,000 from NRA members by next Tuesday to appeal a federal judge’s decision last week to dismiss the gun group’s bankruptcy case.

He’s joined by NRA board members Owen “Buz” Mills and Rocky Marshall. The board members want a judge to appoint a trustee to take over NRA operations and a committee of NRA members to decide on the group’s future.

“The goal is to restore trust in the leadership,” Journey said. “To have sound corporate governance. To stop the financial abuses. To create a set of rules that we can follow and operate efficiently. And to enforce those rules on everybody. A lot of times, they put rules in place and enforced them on everybody but Wayne.”

He pointed to multiple examples of admitted malfeasance by LaPierre in court, including diverting $300,000 in NRA funds to his personal expenses (though he’s accused of diverting millions more) without punishment and skipping compliance training mandated for all NRA employees.

“That’s just another thing where my jaw hits the floor,” Journey said. “Every day, my jaw would hit the floor.”

The appeal is the second attempt by Journey and his allies to use the bankruptcy initiated by LaPierre to oust him and reform the group. The first attempt was to get the judge to appoint an examiner to look at the finances of the group and report irregularities to a members’ committee. It was dashed alongside LaPierre’s own plan to move the NRA to Texas and block New York Attorney General Letitia James (D.) from seizing their assets in state court.

Experts said an appeal would be a long shot.

“It’s pretty hard to get a case dismissed as a bad-faith filing, but this always seemed to satisfy the hard-to-satisfy standard,” Matthew Bruckner, a Howard University professor and bankruptcy expert, told The Reload on Thursday. “The decision seems well-grounded in the Fifth Circuit’s legal precedent, and the facts were admittedly ‘cringeworthy.’”

NRA leadership appears to agree since they plan to move forward with their defense against James’s dissolution suit back in New York. NRA lawyers had argued the bankruptcy was necessary to protect them from having their assets seized by James but are now turning back to the state case instead of appealing.

Journey is more confident. He admitted the appeal is a heavy lift but said he believes there is a “reasonable chance at success” and argued it was the least-bad option available.

He said it is more likely to succeed than either fighting in New York court or trying to reform the group internally. Only about 40 percent of the NRA board has bothered to show up at the two emergency board meetings regarding the group’s bankruptcy. All but four of those who did show up voted to approve the bankruptcy filing despite LaPierre not informing them of the filing, or even the possibility of bankruptcy, until after it happened.

Journey said his confidence that an appeal offers the best possible outcome was driven by the end of Judge Hale’s ruling dismissing the case.

“Should the NRA file a new bankruptcy case, this Court would immediately take up some of its concerns about disclosure, transparency, secrecy, conflicts of interest of officers and litigation counsel, and the unusual involvement of litigation counsel in the affairs of the NRA,” Hale wrote, “which could cause the appointment of a trustee out of a concern that the NRA could not fulfill the fiduciary duty required by the Bankruptcy Code for a debtor in possession.”

If a trustee is appointed, they are likely to remove LaPierre and other members of NRA leadership facing accusations of self-dealing and impropriety. As the judge noted in his ruling, a trustee is not designed to run a sprawling nonprofit like the NRA. That’s why Journey believes the judge would also agree to set up his NRA members’ committee to oversee the group’s reformation.

“The end of the plan is to create a members’ committee that would ultimately end up having the knowledge and the resources and the desire to restore sound governance and management to the NRA,” he said.

A collection of vocal proponents for the removal of LaPierre have begun to coalesce around Journey’s new plan. Until now, the different activists trying to reform the NRA have had different plans to get to a similar end goal. The last-ditch effort may unite the disparate efforts.

Jeff Knox, a former board member who has been pushing to remove LaPierre for decades after he and his father battled LaPierre over accusations of financial mismanagement in the 1990s, dubbed Journey “the leader of the loyal opposition on the NRA Board” last week. He appeared on Gun Talk Radio with long-time host Tom Gresham to talk about his strategy over the weekend. Ron Carter, vice president of Save the Second, praised Journey’s new plan.

“While I cannot say that I entirely agree to his approach, I can say that I support his efforts,” he said in a Facebook post.

NRA leadership did not respond to a request for comment. However, it said in a statement last week the NRA remained strong and committed to its mission.

“Our NRA is pressing forward with its plans, and remains determined to promote constitutional freedoms,” said NRA Second Vice President Lt. Col. Willes K. Lee, USA (Ret). “We will never shrink from the tough and principled stands we take on behalf of our law-abiding 5 million members.”

Journey said the members will determine what direction the NRA takes from here.

“I don’t have a knight in shining armor,” he said. “The level of support we get from the membership is gonna decide.”

Stephen Gutowski, an award-winning journalist who has reported on firearms policy and politics for over a decade and now published and writes for

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Shadow Doc

Phil Journey is the real deal. I grew up in Kansas and met him several times at 2nd Amendment events going back over 20 years ago. The NRA is in this mess because the BOD abdicated their responsibilities ages ago. It is about time someone on the board is trying to hold Wayne accountable. I support any efforts to clean house at the NRA.


First and foremost is the NRA is the premier Second Amendment advocate worldwide and it’s known as such. For this reason alone, all efforts by NRA members such as myself should be to strengthen the NRA. I’ve been a Life Member for over 60 years and a Benefactor for over 50 years. I have successfully owned my own manufacturing business employing over 75 folks. IMO all organizations need “house cleanings” and sometimes “reorganization” to strengthen them and move forward and this IMO is where the NRA is today. It has to be reorganized and strengthened. No half measures. And, “yes”… Read more »


The NRA is the only organization I’ve ever seen or even heard of where the executive staff employees have complete power and control over the Board Of Directors. It’s supposed to work the other way around. The NRA BOD is all smoke, mirrors, and bull$#|£. They don’t “direct” anything. Most do however profit in one form or another from the organization. In America you have the right to fail. NRA leadership has failed its mission and membership miserably as well as criminally. There’s no such thing as too big to let it fail. Bailouts are bull$#|£. If you can’t/won’t run… Read more »

Last edited 1 year ago by JIAZ
Phillip Journey

If you have a better idea I am listening. We have till Tuesday.

Jeremy B.

Did you read the article? He’s trying to get Wayne kicked out of the NRA!

I want the NRA strong and effective, and that means without WLP and his echo chamber board members.




WLP created the problem. He will never be capable of fixing it, nor should he be allowed to try.


The real question is this: What exactly is meant by “Save” the NRA? Does it mean to go back to the pre-1986 days, before the NRA helped to write the Hughes Amendment? Does it mean to go back to 1968 and again support the GCA, or go back to1933 and help to pass the National Firearms Act for the second time? Or does it mean to go all the way back to 1871, and henceforth do nothing but teach rifle marksmanship? When (IF) that becomes the case, I will rethink my position. But until someone stops ducking these important points,… Read more »


WLP is just the visual head of the NRA, there’s a whole slew of personnel that willingly enables Waynes actions. They need to be culled as well lest the rot spread further even with Wayne’s removal.


Regardless of the background on Journey, at least his efforts are positive and that he’s frank about his intent. And anyone who says LaPierre has got to go is worth listening to. Every letter and email I get from the NRA these days that address the problems are filled with empty promises and platitudes. I believe the organization is still worth fighting for.


I agree, the nra is worth fighting for. And Journey’s idea seems solid. Will I contribute to his goal of raising $100,000 by Tuesday to gamble on the WLP-inspired court issue?? Hell no!

I just can’t believe an organization the size of nra does not have a cut-n-dried means of removing a ceo – regardless of the reason. Removing Wayne should not require court involvement nor expenditure of significant money.

Perhaps clearer heads should revisit the by-laws?

Phillip Journey

If anyone has a better idea I’m listening


Any plan – ANY plan – is better than no plan. That said, I looked over all the info you’ve made available to us, and I left with no confidence your plan will work. I saw no stated [supportive] opinions from other attorneys that your plan has an acceptable chance of success. All I read were statements from academians (theoriticians) who likely never fought in the trenches. I’m a builder, not an attorney. A person can admire a grand old (but crumbling) structure, and envision restoring its’ grandeur by applying money and labor. But more often than not, it’s more… Read more »


> I agree, the nra is worth fighting for.

If that is so, then why wasn’t it worth fighting for when the board passed rules that shut down member nominations for the board? As Oldvet said, that is what allowed the current “leadership” to go off the rails.
We need another 1977-style housecleaning. But with the new rules, that’s impossible.
As with so many things, the NRA couldn’t be killed from outside, it had to be sabotaged by LaPierre & Co. from within.


If it is in-fact impossible, and criminal activity is absent (or cannot be proven), then the best approach IMHO is to starve it to death by withholding funds.

There is nothing the NRA does, and no asset(s) they hold, that cannot be duplicated under a new organization.


So…let me get this straight:

The nra members voted to allow the fox to take over the henhouse, which he did. In plain sight, and with the knowledge and approval of nra members, the fox craftily built in a system of security for himself.

Now the nra members are unhappy with the fox and demand the court un-do things so the (now wiser) nra members can try again.

Good luck with that.


I didn’t even bother voting for the NRA board this year. Finally realized they really do only what the leadership tells them to do if they even bother to show up at all.


For an “award-winning journalist”, this article was/is extremely difficult to follow. I’m not sure I have it straight yet. The incessant use of “he”, “his” “they” has my head spinning.

If WLP admitted in court to embezzling $300,000, why not file charges and have him arrested?


Perhaps they’re all just another Latrine smokescreen???

Phillip Journey

Be patient US Attorneys are still in confirmation


Wayne needs to go to jail. I hope NY gets him measured for a striped suit.




Not a chance – Wayne’s clothing makes Armani look like WalMart stuff,


NO More MONEY, until Wayne is GONE. Period, End of Message.


Yeah, but all his cronies at the various levels need to go as well.


Just another swamp that needs drained, The 60% of the NRA board that did not show up should be replaced unless they have a very good reason.
I moved to the GOA pond. Hopefully there is less muck-a-tee-muck, sure is much less junk mail begging for money. How much does the NRA spend on mail a year? I bet it’s unfathomable.

Last edited 1 year ago by JDT

I donate to both GOA and SAF monthly. While I’ll no longer give to the NRA, their local-level education, training, and certifications are something the GOA/SAF just don’t have. The NRA needs its head severed while finding a way to keep the body moving.

Last edited 1 year ago by Tackleberry
JD Keene

Competitions, insurance, range support, and on and on… Just going to GOA and SAF really does not get the job done.


The Board itself needs to shrink by about 2/3.


I don’t think you understand the intent. Mr. Journey is not allowed to use NRA money to change it from within. This is like when a state representative tries to raise money to sue the state — something we’re seeing more of since the plandemic.


I think he wants anyone to help who thinks the NRA is worth saving. I guess you and I differ on that, and that’s okay.


What exactly is meant by “saving” the NRA? Does it mean to go back to the pre-1986 days, before the NRA helped to write the Hughes Amendment? Does it mean to go back to 1968 and again support the GCA, or go back to1933 and help to pass the National Firearms Act for the second time? Or does it mean to go all the way back to 1871, and henceforth do nothing but teach rifle marksmanship? If it is the latter, I would support that. But if it’s something different, that is, indeed, Okay too. But I’d sure like to… Read more »


Saving, to me, means going back to the basics. That means: stronger lobbyists in Washington who have their focus on the 2A to dial back the massive spending and account for every single dime – and detail it for every member to understand clearly clean house and get rid of a considerable number of superfluous employees stop spending money in an echo chamber. (If I get one more useless 8-page letter in the mail saying there are people who want to take away my 2A rights, I’ll torch headquarters myself) put a stronger emphasis on education and push advertising in… Read more »

Autsin Miller III

One thing saving means to Judge journey is no letting the state AG get her hands on the NRA money and give it to the anti gun groups. I left the NRA a long time ago but Journey seems to be a real stand up guy (fairly new to the board I believe.) He has a pretty extensive interview on GunTalk with Gresham if you care to hear more about who he is and what he’s about.

Phillip Journey

Saving he NRA means all those thing NRA does. The profitable segments will be picked up by someone. It’s the unprofitable things that are not newsworthy that will end. Supporting youth programs like 4-H shooting sports programs. Women’s programs and hunter education YHEC. The matches and the competitive shooting programs. There is so much more. Yes other will try to fill the gaps. Maybe CMP will expand its reach. USCCA is forming a Super-PAC. It may be imitated but it will prove impossible to recreate.


I don’t claim to understand everything that’s gone on or is going on. I’ve been a Life Member for far too long to understand why I still receive a yearly renewal membership notice that says “Life” on it. If that’s an indicator of the shoddy and potentially shady bookkeeping going on, then there’s a problem. I do know, and it’s been my experience, that there’s always a problem with entrenched leadership in any organization. Whether it be a school board, a city council, the NRA or our Congress, the longer someone’s in a position, the more questions of inappropriateness arise.… Read more »


Yes, yes, yes!
SAF for me, now.

Last edited 1 year ago by loveaduck

Everyone on the BOD must go. They are all complicit or too stupid to be in charge.

Never heard of this guy before. If he was ‘loyal opposition’ where has he been? He just like the rest of the BOD, did nothing, informed no one, including the members and therefore are not fit to run a lemonade stand let alone an organization of 4 million members.

Last edited 1 year ago by Hazcat
Phillip Journey

It took 5 years to get elected to the Board again. I served from 1995 to 1998 we lost by 1 vote in 1997. After 1998 I was president of the Kansas State Rifle Association and served on that board for a couple decades. I served in the Kansas Senate for 5 years enacting CCW, preemption, range protection and legalizing Title 2 devices. We have Constitutional Carry in Kansas. What does your State have. I was elected in November to my 4th term as a State Court Judge. The day before the bankruptcy was file I was looking at Kansas… Read more »


You politicians sure do love tooting your own horns, don’t you?

Phillip Journey

Nope There are many things I would rather be doing that taking a bite of this s**t sandwich.


The money would be better spent on a hit man to take out LaPierre and eliminate the ongoing and sole source of all the problems of the NRA.


This all goes back to Wayne launching an investigation into NRATV’s  Ackerman McQueen misusing funds. NRA president Col. North stepped in to persuade him to drop it by offering Wayne an elite retirement. Lapierre would not accept and now it’s known North worked for  Ackerman McQueen of Oak.- conflict of interest. Citizen murderer Cuomo and his crooked AG James vowed to take down the NRA and that’s what this is all about. We should stand behind the NRA and Wayne Lapierre against this tyrannical government in power, taking America down.


Sorry Dan, you’ve obviously not been paying attention over the last 30+ years. I’ve been in this fight since the 1980’s. I remember the Knox rebellion and their attempt to get needed reforms put in place for the good of the organization. WLP has been COMPROMISING the NRA’s power and influence for a very long time. Are you aware that the NRA, at one point gave the KACKJASS Harry Reid, D. Nev. an A+ rating for some crumbs he threw our way many years ago. Any organization that would do that has utterly lost its bearings. And the leadership of… Read more »


Nicely put. And thanks for pointing out that Republicans can be – and often are – as crooked as any liberal Democrat. That needs to be said more these days. A lot more.


People. People can be crooked across any spectrum or group. Unfortunately, there’s never been a 100% effective way to consistently root it out. It’s whack-a-mole on a global scale.

Of course the old saying of, “Show me the man and I’ll find you the crime.” is the risk at the other extreme of the equation.

Last edited 1 year ago by Tackleberry
Phillip Journey

I was there with Neal for the Battle in Seattle

Jeremy B.

I’d rather compromise and have a half win than fail to win because you won’t accept a partial win.

Take what you can, them go back and get more. This is EXACTLY the tactic that gun controllers use.


A “half win” is second place. Think Dred Scott.


Ultimately, the Dred Scott decision proved to be a spark in the institution of slavery’s demise. It just took almost a decade more to be realized.

The question becomes, just which spark(s) are going to set the gun rights issue ablaze and what will the conflagration look like?

Last edited 1 year ago by Tackleberry