NRA Membership Trends

One of the cardinal rules of business is that it costs much less to keep a customer than it is to go out and get a new customer. Indeed, some studies show it costs five times as much to get a new customer than to keep an existing one. Moreover, just retaining 5% more customers can push profitability by anywhere from 25% to 95%. If your new car came with satellite radio, this explains why Sirius XM offers such incredible deals to keep you enrolled.

Now let’s apply this to the NRA. Reportedly officers of the NRA keep telling the board that they are gaining 100,000 new members monthly. This is a correct statement. However, what is not talked about much is membership retention.

Examine the chart below that was handed out in a recent NRA committee meeting. You had a million member spike in the year after the Newtown murders. However, in the next year total membership dropped by 500,000. You see and up-down pattern through 2018 when membership hit a peak of about 5.2 million members. Since 2019, the pattern has changed from the earlier up-down pattern to a continual decline. Membership currently stands at about 4.6 million as of the end of August. An earlier reported figure of 4.2 million was in error.

As Bitter has reported in a couple of posts, voting participation is down and increased secrecy about the organization’s affairs is harming it. Why would you want to be part of a group that forbids you from expressing your pride in being a part of it?

The answer is you wouldn’t. Add in that there are clubs ditching the 100% NRA membership requirement along with the willful ignorance of many Board members and you have a disaster in the making.

Bill Wilson’s Favorite Hunting Rifle

As proof that not everything I post has to do with the NRA, I present this discussion between Ken Hackathorn and Bill Wilson on Bill’s favorite hunting rifle. It is a Ruger Model 77 in 9.3×62 which he has taken to Africa a number of times.

Why I was really interested in it is because I am seriously thinking of having a Remington Sportsman 78 .30-06 aka a poor man’s Remington 700 ADL rebored to 9.3×62. I could replace the barrel but I think it would be just as cost effective to have it rebored. It is a wonderful caliber to use on tough African plains game and is potentially allowed to be used on dangerous game. The latter depends on the country. Some have the .375 H&H or Ruger as the minimum while others that were under German colonial control often allow its use.

Waste And Fraud At ATF?

The CBS Evening News ran an investigative report on Tuesday, October 5th, that featured a whistleblower accusing the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives of waste and fraud. The whistleblower alleges that BATFE paid a large number of administrative people an extra 25% for supposedly being available on call for law enforcement operations. The problem is that this certification was false. When the whistleblower brought it to the attention of higher ups and management, he got lower performance evaluations that led to his termination. Given how hard it is to fire any one in Federal employment, it seems BATFE went out of their way to terminate this whistleblower.

I am somewhat surprised that CBS News ran any report that was critical of BATFE. However, the reporter, Catherine Herridge, did come over to CBS from Fox.

NRA Petition Candidates

In normal years, a candidate for the NRA Board of Directors who wanted to be nominated by petition would have months to gather the needed signatures. This is not a normal year.

The window to gather signatures opened with the Annual Meeting on October 2nd and closes on November 16th. Thus, instead of almost six months, a candidate will have approximately six weeks to gather 477 signatures of NRA voting members. As a reminder, those eligible to both vote and sign such a petition are Life, Patron, Endowment, and Benefactor members and Annual members with 5 continuous years of membership. If you have had a break in your annual membership, the clock restarts.

Runners-up on the ballot including petition candidates are eligible to move up into board openings when sitting directors resign or die. As NRA Secretary and General Counsel affirmed to Frank Tait at the 2021 Meeting of Members, write-in candidates do not qualify.

Frank Tait is the only person I know who is attempting to run by petition this year. If you know of anyone else, please put their information in the comments.

I plan on signing Frank’s petition. I only wish there was an event in the next week or so where I could gather a full page or more of valid signatures.

If you would like a copy of his petition, it is available for download here.

Return the signed petition to Frank Tait at 425 W. Wayne Ave. Wayne PA 19087. He needs them in hand by November 11th. Mine will go out in the mail tomorrow.

Please do not sign a petition if you are not a voting member. You can find your membership number on the label of whatever NRA magazine you receive.

We need more people who represent the actual members of the Board and fewer who represent either their own interests or those of Wayne.

Take a look at the picture below. It was originally posted on the blog NRA In Danger.

I have labeled it to point out Frank and the security monitor that the powers that be assigned to follow Frank everywhere in the Meeting of Members and the Board Meeting.

How damn paranoid do you have to be to put a security guard on one dissident member when you’ve already stacked the meeting with the Board, their spouses, and staffers whose jobs depend on kowtowing to Wayne?

The worst part is that you and I paid for this travesty with our dues. Even the KGB and Guoanbu are more subtle than this bumbling Gang of Four.

Facebook Comment Of The Day

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives is celebrating National Disability Employment Awareness Month. They decided to put a post up on Facebook about it.

It said, in part:

ATF is committed to building and sustaining a diverse and inclusive workforce. ATF welcomes and encourages applications from persons with disabilities and will reasonably accommodate the needs of those persons.

Given the snafus, incompetence, and general f’ed up nature of ATF, many immediately thought they were talking mental disabilities.

However, a much better comment brought up one of their recent rulemakings.

Someone named Spike Cohen said:

Aren’t you trying to ban pistol braces, which if implemented would make firearms much less accessible for disabled people?

That comment had over 2,000 likes and loves as it well should.

UPDATE: I just found out that Spike Cohen was a 2020 Libertarian candidate for Vice President.

“An Amazing Celebration of NRA Fellowship and Freedom”

The headline come from a quote by newly-elected NRA President Charles Cotton regarding the NRA Annual Meeting held in Charlotte on Saturday.

If that was all you knew about the Meeting of Members held in Charlotte, you would be excused if you assumed the meeting room was packed to the gills, that members’ concerns were respectfully heard, and that every member of the Board of Director was there.

The reality is much different.

As you can see in this photo sent to me by Rocky Marshall, attendance was sparse. He counted 128 attendees and there were probably a few more by the time everything got underway. Even last year in Tucson during the height of COVID, the Meeting of Members had more attendees. I would say the majority in attendance in Charlotte were Board members, their spouses, and NRA staff.

With regard to having members’ concerns being respectfully heard, a concerted effort was made to suppress even a vote on the only resolution brought before the members in the meeting. Frank Tait submitted the resolution that expressed no confidence in Wayne LaPierre and the Board of Directors and which said Wayne, Meadows, Cotton, Lee, and John Frazer did not deserve to be re-elected. Friend of Wayne Joel Friedman raised an objection to the resolution and a vote was called on whether to consider it. The vote was an overwhelming majority to sustain the objection and not consider the resolution. With that, the meeting adjurned.

If there was a bright spot in this whole charade, it is that NRA General Counsel and Secretary John Frazer was forced to read the resolution in its entirety out loud and that it became an official part of the meeting records. There is no word whether Frazer gritted his teeth or whether his blood pressure started to rise in response.

Stephen Gutowski notes in his new publication The Reload that 28 members of the Board of Directors bailed on the meeting and the follow-up Board Meeting. That means only 48 or members of the Board bothered to show up.

Moving on to the Board Meeting where officers and executives would be elected. The only surprise is that Wayne was not able to be re-elected by acclamation as Judge Phil Journey nominated Rocky Marshall for Executive VP and CEO. The vote on that was 44 votes for Wayne, 2 for Rocky, and 2-3 abstentions. They then went on to elect the full slate of officers and executives that were in the Nominating Committee recommendations that I posted on Friday night.

Such was the paranoia of the NRA that Stephen Gutowski was kept out of the Board Meeting because he was not an active NRA member. He had been allowed to sit in on other NRA Board Meetings in the past. Moreover, I was told by both Frank Tait and Rocky Marshall that they were shadowed throughout both the Meeting of Members and the NRA Board of Directors Meeting by a couple of security guards. Frank did note that they kept the CDC-recommended six feet away.

I have to laugh when I read the official statement by Wayne on being re-elected as Executive VP.

“The NRA is focused and energized–standing tall in the face of unprecedented attacks on our Association and constitutional freedoms,”…“I am honored by the trust placed in me by the NRA Board of Directors and the millions of patriots they represent. Together, we will continue to confront our adversaries and fight for our freedoms and values. We are resolute in our mission as America’s greatest defender of constitutional freedom.” 

The Board of Directors may have represented the members at one time but that time is past. If Wayne and his cronies were really the greatest defender of constitutional freedom they would have allowed consideration of Frank Tait’s resolution, they would not have obstructed the case that became DC v. Heller in its early stages, and they would have gone far beyond the legal requirements for notification of the Annual Meeting. On this last thing, they didn’t even meet the minimum requirements imposed by NY law.

We are beginning to see the impact of the willful ignorance of the Board of Directors. Membership is reported to have fallen down to about 4.2 million members from a high of 5.5 million. Moreover, I know of a very large gun club in Pennsylvania that will be dropping their 100% NRA membership requirement. Without such a requirement, you have to believe that a lot of annual members will start dropping off the roles. Finally, I am hearing on various forums that range from hunting to 2A activism that a large number of traditional donors are keeping their wallets closed. Now I may be just listening to the choir on this but I’m starting to see it in too many places to ignore.

Politicking The NRA Board

It seems the powers that be within the NRA are politicking the NRA Board in advance of their meeting tomorrow afternoon. Since it will be the first Board meeting after the Meeting of Members, new officers will be elected and trustees for the NRA Foundation and the NRA Special Contribution Fund will be selected.

I was sent anonymously a copy of the Nominating Committee report that was slipped under the door of every director in Charlotte a short while ago.

Three things stand out. First, they are attempting to influence the Board’s vote on the election of officers and trustees in advance of the actual meeting. Second, in doing so, they violated the confidentiality of their own executive session. Finally, making Willes Lee as a trustee of the NRA Foundation given his service on the Special Litigation Committee will be a red flag to not only the Attorney General of New York but to the Attorney General of the District of Columbia who is suing the NRA Foundation. Attorney General Racine’s lawsuit alleges the Foundation put the interests of the NRA ahead of its own.

I seem to remember an absurd comment by North Carolina’s own board member Walt Walter that leaking stuff from an executive session should be punished by death. Hmmm.

A College Minor In Changemaking?

With Smith & Wesson moving a lot of their operations to Tennessee, I was checking to see what colleges and universities in the area offered that might be useful to that company. I was particularly interested in engineering and STEM programs.

Along the way I stumbled across a school that had a minor in “Changemaking”. I thought that it was good that this school was offering a practical minor for those students who had majored in fields with less than optimal job prospects. You know, the majors where graduates will be asking “do you want fries with that?” Now, at least, they would be equipped with the skills to handle a cash register and make correct change.

Unfortunately, it seems more about community organizing and “positive social change”.

The Changemaking minor equips students with the mindset, knowledge, and skills to effect positive social change in their communities. Grounded in theories and methodologies of social innovation and social entrepreneurship, the minor affords students opportunities to study, develop, and implement regional social change projects in collaboration with partners in education, government, industry, and nonprofit sectors.

I am not going to name the university lest it embarrass my good friend David Cole. I do expect that school to kick one of my alma maters in football when they meet in November.

I will note the school does have a good number of engineering technology programs including in fields like product development, industrial engineering technology, and mechanical engineering technology. It also has the full range of business majors. Thus, not all is lost.

I think the move of Smith & Wesson to east Tennessee is a great win for that state and their industrial recruiters should be congratulated.

An Insider’s View of the NRA Board of Directors

I was sent this release this afternoon from Rocky Marshall. He is encouraging those that can to attend the Meeting of Members in Charlotte. Regardless of whether you can attend or not, he does encourage members to get involved and I agree 100% with him on that.

From Rocky:

In the last eight months as a member of the NRA Board of Directors (BOD), I have been asked often by NRA members, pro-gun groups and pro-second amendment reporters “Why does the NRA BOD refuse to terminate Wayne LaPierre’s employment in light of the accusations and evidence of mismanagement, malfeasance, and misuse of NRA funds for personal benefit?” I believe there are three primary reasons and a lengthy list of secondary reasons.

Primary Reasons:

  1. NRA Officers and key board members fully support maintaining Wayne LaPierre as the EVP regardless of the evidence that has been presented in the recent Bankruptcy trial.
  2. Several Directors are not independent fiduciaries and will follow the leadership regardless of the admission of wrong doing by Wayne LaPierre and others.
  3. A few Directors are independent but will not openly challenge the current leadership for fear of reprisals, loss of committee assignments, and ultimately removal from the BOD. 

The BOD’s failure in the fiduciary role of over sight has created a risk of dissolution by the New York Attorney General and has enraged NRA members, pro second amendment organizations and second amendment reporters.  The very groups that historically have been the back bone of the NRA are now the biggest critics.  The NRA routinely describes these former support groups as adverse to the NRA and malcontents. These often repeated derogatory terms are used to described anyone or any organization with views that do not align with the NRA leadership.  

In order to develop an understanding of where the NRA is heading, it is necessary to predict the outcome of the New York Attorney General’s Complaint against the NRA. 

Potential Outcomes:

1)         The NRA prevails in the NYAG case and all charges are dropped and the NRA returns to normal operations with current management and BOD in place. This is not plausible due to the over whelming evidence compiled by the NYAG and through testimonies during the bankruptcy trial.  If Martha Stewart can go to jail for insider trading on a transaction valued at $45,000; then I venture to speculate that mismanagement of millions of dollars can also have serious consequences.

2)         The NRA loses the NYAG case and immediately files an appeal or another bankruptcy filing. This is possible, however I think is unlikely because the NRA will lose all leverage with the NYAG and will be at the mercy of the court. 

3)         The NRA avoids the trial through negotiations with the NYAG agrees to remove management, agrees to pay a massive fine, the NRA BOD is disbanded, and the NYAG has a huge political victory.  I think this outcome is the most likely based on the other possible outcomes. 

The appointment of an Independent Receiver by the New York Court could help stop the raiding of the NRA’s bank account. I am hoping that the recent filing of an intervention in the NYAG case (which I am the named Director) will finally end the continued wrong doing by a few and save the NRA for the members. 

I hope to encourage all NRA members to become fully engaged in taking back control of the NRA for the benefit of the members. The annual member’s meeting has been scheduled for October 2, 2021 in Charlotte North Carolina.  If you attend, now is the time for your voice to be heard. The BOD will not change course and have no intention of correcting the wrong doing of the past.  If the NRA is important to you, please get involved….now!

Goodbye Massachusetts; Hello Tennessee!

An alternate title could be “How to Drive A 165 Year Old Business Out of Your State in Order to Appear Woke”.

What I’m referring to is the decision by Smith & Wesson Brands, Inc. to relocate their headquarters and a significant part of their firearms manufacturing from Springfield, Massachusetts to Maryville, Tennessee. While they will have a number of jobs left in Massachusetts, they expect to have over 750 jobs in Maryville with employees relocating from their operation Massachusetts, Missouri, and Connecticut. The move comes due to proposed anti-gun legislation in Massachusetts.

SCCY Firearms had proposed moving much of their operations to Maryville but last year decided to expand in Daytona Beach, Florida instead. They closed their Maryville plant. I wonder if S&W will be using any part of that.

As a resident on the other side of the Smokies, I say welcome to the Great Smoky Mountains.

The full announcement is below:

SPRINGFIELD, Mass., Sept. 30, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Smith & Wesson Brands, Inc. , one of the nation’s oldest firearms manufacturers, announced today that it is moving its headquarters and significant elements of its operations to Maryville, Tennessee in 2023.   Smith & Wesson has been based in Springfield, Massachusetts since the company was incorporated in 1852.

Smith & Wesson Logo (PRNewsFoto/Smith & Wesson)

   

Mark Smith, President and Chief Executive Officer, said “This has been an extremely difficult and emotional decision for us, but after an exhaustive and thorough analysis, for the continued health and strength of our iconic company, we feel that we have been left with no other alternative.”  He specifically cited legislation recently proposed in Massachusetts that, if enacted, would prohibit the company from manufacturing certain firearms in the state. “These bills would prevent Smith & Wesson from manufacturing firearms that are legal in almost every state in America and that are safely used by tens of millions of law-abiding citizens every day exercising their Constitutional 2nd Amendment rights, protecting themselves and their families, and enjoying the shooting sports. While we are hopeful that this arbitrary and damaging legislation will be defeated in this session, these products made up over 60% of our revenue last year, and the unfortunate likelihood that such restrictions would be raised again led to a review of the best path forward for Smith & Wesson.”

Smith indicated that the company vetted a number of cities and states and, after careful consideration, made the decision to relocate 750 jobs and its headquarters to Maryville, Tennessee.  The key factors in the decision included the following:

  • Support for the 2nd Amendment
  • Business friendly environment
  • Quality of life for employees
  • Cost of living and affordability
  • Access to higher education institutions
  • Availability of qualified labor for its operations and headquarter functions
  • Favorable location for efficiency of distribution

Smith continued, “The strong support we have received from the State of Tennessee and the entire leadership of Blount County throughout this process, combined with the quality of life, outdoor lifestyle, and low cost of living in the Greater Knoxville area has left no doubt that Tennessee is the ideal location for Smith & Wesson’s new headquarters. We would like to specifically thank Governor Lee for his decisive contributions and the entire state legislature for their unwavering support of the 2nd Amendment and for creating a welcoming, business friendly environment.”

Smith & Wesson will also close facilities in Connecticut and Missouri as part of consolidating in Tennessee. This process will result in the company reducing the number of locations it maintains from four to three and will significantly streamline its manufacturing and distribution operations.

The company emphasized that the move will not begin until 2023 and will not have an impact on employees’ jobs until then.  “Our loyal employees are the reason for our success and are always our number one priority. We are deeply saddened by the impact that this difficult decision will have on so many of our dedicated employees, but in order to preserve future jobs and for the viability of our business in the long term, we are left with no choice but to relocate these functions to a state that does not propose burdensome restrictions on our company.” Smith said. “We are making this announcement now to ensure that each employee has the time to make the decision that is right for them and their families. We are firmly committed to working on an individual level with each and every one of those who will be affected. We will assist any affected employee who is willing and able to move with financial and logistical relocation assistance. However, we also fully realize that this is simply not feasible for some. Therefore, for any affected employee who cannot move with us, we will offer enhanced severance and job placement services. We understand that this announcement will be very difficult for our employees, and we will do everything we can to assist them during this transition,” Smith said. All employees whose jobs are moved will be given these offers.

Key Facts:

  • The facility in Springfield, Massachusetts will be reconfigured but will remain operational.
  • Smith & Wesson will keep some of its manufacturing operations in Springfield, Massachusetts, including all forging, machining, metal finishing, and assembly of revolvers, and will continue to have over 1,000 employees in the state.
  • The new facility will be built in Maryville, Tennessee and will comprise of the company’s headquarters, plastic injection molding, pistol and long gun assembly, and distribution.
  • Total investment in the project is estimated at $120 million, will be funded from cash on hand, and is expected to be accretive to EPS by $0.10 to $0.12 per year once fully operational.
  • Construction in Maryville, Tennessee is expected to begin in the calendar fourth quarter of 2021 and be substantially complete by the summer of 2023.
  • Upwards of 750 jobs will move from Springfield, Massachusetts; Deep River, Connecticut; and Columbia, Missouri to Maryville, Tennessee.
  • The company’s plastic injection molding facility in Deep River, Connecticut, which services both Smith & Wesson as well as a significant number of external customers, will be sold. The Smith & Wesson portion of the operations will be moved to the new facility in Maryville, Tennessee, however, the external customer business will remain in Connecticut and will be divested.
  • The company’s distribution operations in Columbia, Missouri will be moved to the new facility in Maryville, Tennessee, and the Columbia, Missouri facility will be marketed for sublease.
  • The relocation will have no impact on the company’s operations in Houlton, Maine.