The NRA is fighting with itself and New York state

The National Rifle Association is one of the most powerful lobbies in the US, successfully thwarting many attempts at serious gun control laws. It started out as an organization dedicated to the responsible use of guns but over time was taken over by zealots who opposed any and all attempts at controlling the spread of even the most lethal weapons, even if the net result was that seriously disturbed people could get their hands on them.

But recently the NRA has been in a state of turmoil with its dirty linen being aired as part of an internal power struggle between its president Oliver North and its executive director Wayne LaPierre, with allegations of financial impropriety and extortion. There is currently litigation going on but in the short run, it looks like North lost the power struggle and has resigned.

An updated version of a civil complaint, entered in Virginia state court on April 24, make new claims about Col. Oliver North’s relationship with the company that runs NRATV, the video network linked to the gun rights group. The filings are part of an eye-popping lawsuit the organization filed against its long-time ad agency, which built and runs the network.

The updates to the complaint include more detail about North’s work and point to deep irritation between the group and its president. Not only did North fail to deliver on all of the material he promised for NRATV, the suit alleges, but North, in effect, double-dipped by drawing a salary from both the gun rights group and Ackerman McQueen at the same time. Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal published a letter Wayne LaPierre, the NRA’s powerful executive vice president, sent to the NRA board on Thursday alleging that North tried to blackmail him into quitting the organization.

Those matters will be particularly front-of-mind because of LaPierre’s letter, which the Journal published. LaPierre said that North told him, through an intermediary, that if he didn’t step down from the NRA, North would share information about him with the board that would be “bad” for him and the NRA. The threatened letter would include allegations of sexual harassment, financial mismanagement, and “wardrobe expenses,” among other charges.

Meanwhile, the finances of the NRA are under investigation by the attorney general of the state of New York where it is chartered.

[T]he gun-safety group, Everytown for Gun Safety, said it filed a complaint about the NRA’s tax-exempt status with the IRS.

The group said it was prompted by a recent report by The Trace, in conjunction with the New Yorker, alleging that a small group of executives, contractors and vendors affiliated with the NRA “have extracted hundreds of millions of dollars from non-profit’s budget.”

“In light of the recent, credible allegations of excessive invoicing and personal enrichment by insiders, it’s encouraging that the New York Attorney General is looking into the NRA, and we renew our call for other state and federal authorities to do the same,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety.

This is a move that could endanger its non-profit status. The NRA is already in a financial bind due to reduced membership revenues and losing its non-profit status could really harm it.


  1. Allison says

    The account that I heard said that what changed the NRA was the success (such as it was) of the civil rights movement. White people who were afraid that black (and now also brown) people would no longer “know their place” and wanted to be able to “defend themselves” (in the style of Bernie Goetz or George Zimmerman) by whatever means they considered necessary flocked to the NRA and shifted its focus. It also helped that the gun manufacturers discovered that racist fear could be used to increase sales, so they encouraged that shift.

  2. Pierce R. Butler says

    It started out as an organization dedicated to the responsible use of guns …

    Apparently, the NRA started after the Civil War as a reaction by US Army officers to the fact that southerners (from a mostly-rural society where much of the meat eaten came from hunting) were much better shots than urban, factory-working northerners; ergo, a nationwide gun culture seemed necessary for the military requirements of “manifest destiny” and “national security”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *