It seems that the National Rifle Association may be in greater trouble than we thought. New York states attorney general had brought charges against the organization that its top executives , especially Wayne LaPierre had been using its funds as their personal piggy bank to live high on the hog. This at a time when the organization had been losing revenue because of declining membership and had had to make cutbacks to staff benefits.
I had assumed that if the charges held up in court, that the NRA may have had to pay fines and LaPierre and the others may even face jail time. But it appears that the charges are so bad that the entire organization may be liquidated.
Following decades of self-dealing business practices and financial mismanagement that enriched the leadership, board members, and vendors of one of the country’s most feared political interest groups, the NRA may be forced to shut down for good. A lawsuit filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James in August seeks to impose the rare corporate death penalty on the NRA, after an investigation revealed an organization so corrupt that her office contends it cannot be reformed.
While the NRA is an awful organization and LaPierre is an awful man, the net result of such a death sentence may not be entirely good because it appears that there are even more extreme organizations that will swoop in and feast on its carcass for their own growth.
Though the NRA has defined the national gun rights movement for decades, it is by no means the only player on the scene. Rivals have grown in prominence in recent years. And many of the lesser-known groups are in fact much more extreme in their pro-gun stances, and closer to the far-right fringe.
Take Gun Owners of America, a smaller but still very influential group that bills itself as “the only no-compromise gun lobby in Washington,” in implicit rebuke to the more mainstream NRA. GOA arguably tanked the post–Sandy Hook Manchin-Toomey gun reform bill that the NRA was initially prepared to accept. Its former executive director, Larry Pratt, isn’t shy about cozying up to militias and white power groups. Yet there’s no evidence the group is involved in any financial shenanigans, so GOA could credibly claim to be an inheritor to the NRA.
The NRA was not always such an extreme group. In its early days, it preached gun safety and responsible gun ownership. But over time, it morphed into an organization hat opposed any and all efforts to try and reduce the risks of gun violence.