For Your Weekend Reading

The NRA Board of Directors is having a special meeting today in Dallas along with a regular meeting tomorrow on Sunday. The special meeting is to approve the reorganization plan and the Chief Restructuring Officer. This comes on the heels of the last day of testimony in the US Bankruptcy Court hearings.

Day 10, as reported by the blog NRA In Danger, had testimony from the NRA’s outside auditor and the proposed Chief Restructuring Officer as well as cross-examination of Wayne LaPierre. While there is a lot there and you should read it in its entirety, three things captured my attention.

This witness did not do well under cross examination. He argued he’d reformed everything, then was faced with improper events that occurred after his alleged reforms. His choices were to appear corrupt or to appear incompetent and out of control, and he went with the second choice.

That to me provides even more evidence to Judge Harlin Hale that perhaps a trustee is called for. As those who are no fans of Wayne but are really worried about the future of the NRA have observed, a trustee would have the power to convert the Chapter 11 into a Chapter 7 and dissolve the NRA.

The second thing that captured my attention was Wayne’s response to the NRA’s attorney Greg Garman when asked about his background and history.

Background. MA from Boston College in politics, VA legislature. Got Phd. Over at DNC, knew NRA people, NRA right across street. Went into NRA building, they offered me job, late 1977. State liaison for year, then director state local. 1 year, then head govt affairs, in 1980. Membership now 4.9 million. Tried convert NRA into freedom organization. Outreach to celebrities. Celebrity shoots in Hollywood, dinners, etc.

Wayne does not have a PhD. He may have been in a PhD program in political science at BC but he never earned a PhD. I was admitted to the PhD program in political science at UNC-Chapel Hill. However, I left with a wife and no degree. I would never, ever, claim to hold a PhD if I hadn’t earned it. It just isn’t done and is consummately tacky.

Finally, there is Judge Hale’s question that he ordered the attorneys for both sides to answer on Monday. Judge Hale may be nicknamed “Cooter” but he is no fool.

Judge asks question, to be answered in arguments Monday (no court Friday)—chapter 11 purpose is to save company from liquidation bankruptcy. Does court have jurisdiction where sole purpose is to save company from dissolution under state law, which dissolution will only occur if the state court concludes dissolution is in best interests of public?

The blog NRA In Danger examines Judge Hale’s question in more detail. It is the critical question: does the court have jurisdiction? If not, then the case must be dismissed and the NYAG is free to continue in her attempt to dissolve the NRA.

Her dissolution suit has been strengthened by the bankruptcy court revelations. Just the lad day of testimony saw Wayne LaPierre claiming that he’d begun cleaning everything up in 2017, but forced to admit that he’d been given an incredibly lucrative “golden parachute” agreement in mid-2018 (it would have given him many millions had the board ever stopped electing him) that was signed by an outgoing president and Carolyn Meadows, now NRA president and head of the board’s Special Litigation Committee. The signing of the contract implicates NRA’s current board leadership, and also LaPierre himself, and shows his supposed 2017 reforms are. sham. He himself is free to loot despite them. On the same day those board officers signed another golden parachute for Woody Phillips, the NRA treasurer who had to “take the Fifth” dozens of times in his testimony. Others who got such agreements, LaPierre testified he had no idea of the contracts, showing that even if he were honest, in practice others are free to loot NRA at will without his being able to discover it.

Read the whole thing.

Moving on, a column by Stephen Gutowski on his new platform The Reload examines what he calls the membership program. In 2013, Wayne promised to double the membership after it had just hit five million members. Membership now stands at 4.89 million members. Not only has membership not doubled under Wayne’s most recent watch but it has regressed.

If the NRA’s membership has hit a ceiling, that’s significant, and it’s a bad sign for the most influential gun-rights group on the planet. It’s also a bad sign for NRA leadership’s argument in their current argument in the bankruptcy case. NRA leadership has repeatedly argued the LaPierre is the driving force behind fundraising at the organization, and it could not operate anywhere as effectively without him. But LaPierre has not only failed to meet his self-set 2013 goal of doubling NRA membership; membership has actually receded by his own account.

There are millions of new gun owners out there. I imagine some may have joined the NRA this year but the majority have not. Moreover, if what I’m reading across the Internet in forums on hunting, on the Second Amendment, and the like is correct, then there are a lot of people refusing to renew memberships or to make donations so long as Wayne and his grifter cronies remain in power. I am hearing this from both Gun Culture v1.0 and 2.0. I know my own wallet will remain closed to the NRA so long as Wayne is there.

Finally, my friend Kevin Creighton has an excellent post about the NRA’s fund raising approach. He notes Stephen Gutowski’s column on the NRA’s negative growth and relates it to their fund raising approach.

However, let’s face facts. For over 10 years now, the NRA’s primary messaging has been “Give us money, they’re a-comin’ for yer guns.” Okay, fine, let’s say they actually ARE coming for our guns. What have you, the NRA, done to prevent that from happening? What value am I getting for my donation? Why should I give to you right now, except out of habit?

Kevin relates his success fund raising for a faith-based organization using a positive approach. He urges the NRA to get away from the negative approach and return to the more positive approach of the past. Then, both money and membership might grow.

If you are a NRA member or were at one time, you really need to read all these blog posts and articles. Those of us who want a reformed NRA may be voices crying in the wilderness like the Old Testament prophets but the fight for the Second Amendment depends upon it.

5 thoughts on “For Your Weekend Reading”

  1. This is a weird moment of me defending Wayne – very weird in these times – is that he didn’t say he obtained a PhD. I only recall that he said he completed his coursework, but never finished it.

    That said, the whole “introductory questions” that Wayne went through were obnoxious enough to send eyeballs rolling far back into one’s head. It was pathetic to watch him try to be liked – “I’m an elite like you! I went to grad school! I’m of New York! Let me say the word celebrities over and over! I worked with Democrats…here are names of many dead ones that the younger lawyers on the call won’t even likely recognize…”

    1. Then I stand corrected.

      For all practical purposes, I was in the same boat as Wayne. There are those who use the term ABD meaning they’ve taken their comprehensive exams but haven’t finished the dissertation and had the degree conferred. That said, I remember my late wife Rosanne refused to let anyone call her “Doctor” until her actual graduation. She had finished her dissertation on Jordan’s foreign relations – – and it had been approved by her committee and the grad school.

  2. Assume the end of the process results in dissolution, either by NY or via a trustee. Shouldn’t an organization be incorporated (NewNRA) that would have a claim on the assets, if any are left, of the NRA so as to avoid the prospect of an anti-gun front getting them. Something that would include dissident/purged board members to enhance the claim. In the event, that the result is reform, the new organization can fade away. If the result is neither dissolution nor reform, the new organization could compete. IANAL but someone should be looking at this.

    1. I think the fear is that the NYAG will assign the assets to a “gun safety” organization. I realize that “gun safety” is an oxymoron when it comes to Everytown because they do no training and safety to them means Bloomberg has armed security.

    2. ” Shouldn’t an organization be incorporated (NewNRA) that would have a claim on the assets, if any are left, of the NRA so as to avoid the prospect of an anti-gun front getting them.”

      I don’t know if this is in the realm of the legally possible, but an even worse nightmare scenario would be if a court turned NRA resources over to one of the Second Amendment front organizations like GOA or NAGR. They’ve been around for awhile, so they could be considered to have a more plausible claim than any “NewNRA” cobbled up for the purpose.

      They would not have a claim to pre-existence if sporting or competitive activities were a consideration, but, no one will. I would think every single state Rifle & Pistol Association would need to sign on with a NewNRA to confer credibility, and I’m not certain that would happen quickly.

      A really anti-gun judge might hand NRA resources over to GOA or NAGR, knowing that over the long term, their agenda would subvert the Second Amendment cause more surely than any “gun safety” organization would be able to.

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