Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil

I am sure new NRA President Charles Cotton would be pissed off to see himself represented by a trio of monkeys. However, given his performance as Chair of the NRA Board of Directors Audit Committee, it is wholly warranted.

This has become even clearer thanks to a report in the blog NRA In Danger. Several good, honest, and forthright NRA staffers sent a memo to the Audit Committee outlining “top concerns”. I’ll let NRA In Danger tell the story of how Mr. Cotton decided to neither hear nor see the problems.

A major event in the beginning of the controversy over internal corruption came when NRA Treasurer “Woody” Phillips left suddenly in 2017, and the inexplicable decision was made to hire an honest Treasurer, Craig Spray. Several employees who were deeply concerned about what was going on wrote a “Top Concerns” memo for the Audit Committee, which was presented at an emergency meeting in July, 2018. Note this is nearly a year before the scandals burst into the open (April-May 2019). The Committee’s response? Its chair, Charles Cotton, left the room before the memo was presented. Its Vice Chair, who then served as chair, never gave Cotton the memo (obviously he knew Cotton didn’t want to hear of it).(emphasis mine) The committee (which is entrusted by the board with keeping everything honest) made no mention of the event to the board. Officially, nothing happened that day in July.

Read the “top concerns” memo yourself. It was an exhibit filed by the New York Attorney General in the NRA’s abortive attempt at bankruptcy. Given Mr. Cotton’s behavior that day and many others since, I am somewhat surprised that the complaint asking for dissolution has not been amended to make him a co-defendant.

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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.

NRA Annual Meeting And Proper Notice (Update)

The NRA bylaws were updated last October 24th. One of the major updates that was slipped in was about the proper notice for the NRA Annual Meeting. It used to require that the notice of the meeting be placed in two consecutive issues of the Official Journal. The Official Journal would be the American Rifleman, American Hunter, Shooting Illustrated, and America’s 1st Freedom.

Article III, Section 8(a) of the Bylaws now reads, “Notice of the time and place of such meeting shall be given in such a manner as allowed by the corporate laws of the state under which the Association is incorporated.” In this case, it is the state of New York no matter how much the NRA would rather be incorporated in Texas or any other gun friendly state.

As Bitter noted in comments and the blog NRA In Danger made clear today, New York has some very specific requirements about meeting notice.

New York Not-for-profit Corporation Law, Sec. 605. Notice of Meeting of Members states, in part:

Whenever a corporation has more than five hundred members, the notice may be served by publication in a newspaper published in the county in the state in which the principal office of the corporation is located, once a week for three successive weeks next preceding the date of the meeting, provided that the corporation shall also prominently post notice of such meeting on the homepage of any website maintained by the corporation continuously from the date of publication through the date of the meeting. A corporation shall send notice of meetings by first class mail to any member who requests in writing that such notices be delivered by such method.

Normally, for a non-profit the size of the NRA that would suffice. However, they don’t meet the three week rule as it would have had to have been announced no later than September 11th and it was announced that the meeting would be in Charlotte on September 12th. Moreover, while they have announced it on the nraam.org website, I can find no notice in any of the newspapers serving Fairfax County, VA. I have checked the little local papers and the Washington Post.

Since they failed to meet the requirements for notice by an organization of 500 plus voting members, it should be assumed that they would then be required to meet the more stringent requirements of notice. That includes a notice no less than 10 days prior to the meeting by fax, by email, or by 1st Class mail to each and every voting member. I have received nothing by mail or by email.

The Complementary Spouse is an annual member. She does not have the five years of continuous membership required to be a voting member. However, she did get a notice of the meeting by email yesterday. Though, again, it is less than the required 10 days before the meeting that she received notice of it. I am sure I am on the “let’s keep the trouble-makers in the dark” list.

I have been told second-hand by a very trustworthy source that the powers that be have assured directors that the notice requirements for not-for-profit NY corporations do not apply to the NRA. That type of thinking that the rules don’t apply is what has gotten the NRA into the mess that it is in. I guess one should expect nothing less nowadays.

UPDATE: I did a totally unscientific poll of members of Friends of Save the Second on Facebook. So far I’ve gotten 35 responses and only one person might have gotten a invitation similar to that received by the Complementary Spouse. The overwhelming majority of the respondents are Life Members. Many were Endowment, Patron, or Benefactor members. The key is that everyone who responded was an eligible voter and they received no notice of the Charlotte meeting.

UPDATE II: I have well over 50 responses so far. With the exception of the one person I mentioned previously, not one Life or above member who responded got any notification by email about the Annual Meeting this coming Saturday in Charlotte. It is like they don’t want us to actually attend or something.

Update On NRA Annual Meeting

The NRA has finally provided official notice today of the time and place for the Meeting of Members in Charlotte. It will be at the Sheraton-La Meridian Hotel Complex. Having stayed there for a business meeting myself, it is a nice location.

From the American Rifleman site:

The National Rifle Association of America announces that the 2021 Annual Members’ Meeting has been rescheduled. The meeting was originally to have been held Sept. 4 in conjunction with the 2021 NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits, but was rescheduled due to the cancellation of the 2021 convention.

The meeting will now be held Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021, at 9:00 a.m. in Charlotte, North Carolina in the Symphony Ballroom at the Sheraton & Le Meridien Charlotte Hotel Complex located at 555 South McDowell Street. Please join us and participate in the business of your Association.

The Voter Verification room, where eligible members can pick up their voting credentials will be located in the Executive Boardroom and will open on Friday, October 1, 2021, at 9:00am. The results of the 2021 mail ballot election for the NRA Board of Directors will be announced at the Annual Meeting of Members. For additional information, please visit nraam.org.

This notice is also on the NRA’s Annual Meeting website. It is not on the American Hunter website, the NRA homepage, or the America’s 1st Freedom website.

As for me, I think I can do more for advancing gun rights by setting up the Grass Roots North Carolina booth at the Asheville Gun Show that morning than by going to Charlotte. I also won’t have to see the makeup artist leaving after prepping Wayne for the cameras like I did in Tucson. Ugh!

NRA Annual Meeting Moved To Charlotte

According to an email sent out to the NRA Board of Directors, the NRA Annual Meeting and fall board meeting will now be held on October 2nd in Charlotte, NC.

I don’t have any more details at this time but will post when I do.

I used to joke that Charlotte was full of charlatans. Actually, it is Charlotteans. But in this case, the joke becomes reality given Wayne, Brewer, and the majority of the board.

I don’t know why October 2nd was chosen or why Charlotte other than it is a hub for American Airlines. I do know that the USCCA Concealed Carry and Home Defense Expo is scheduled for that same weekend in Fort Worth, Texas.

While Charlotte is an easy drive for me, I’m just not sure it is worth it. I have a local gun show that weekend. I also have a dear friend and relative whom I haven’t seen since her husband’s funeral coming through town for dinner. Against this is the Annual Meeting where I will have the chance to beat my head agains the wall in a futile attempt to change the status quo. I think I just may have made my choice.

Schrödinger’s NRA

Normally I would call this post “Tweet of the Day”. However, I found the title in Rob Romano’s tweet too good not to use.

Rob is the creator of the invaluable Gun Case Tracker which follows virtually every 2A related case at the Federal and state level. He is also the Community Communications Director for the Firearms Policy Coalition.

For those of us in the gun rights community, the acronym NRA means the National Rifle Association. For anti-gun politicians and the media, it is shorthand for both the National Rifle Association and every other gun rights group. Given their top-down approach, it is hard for them to conceive that the largest organization doesn’t control everything. It is also hard for them to conceive that the grassroots can actually make their voice heard without a lot of prodding from the folks in Fairfax.

Here are the pair of great tweets from Rob:

NRA Dissolution Lawsuit Promises To Get More Interesting

In June, Frank Tait and Mario Aguirre filed a motion seeking to intervene on behalf of NRA members in the NRA dissolution case brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James. Their contention, rightly in my opinion, was that no one was adequately representing the approximately five million NRA members.

As you might expect, both the Attorney General and the NRA have objected to this. A hearing is currently scheduled for September 9th to hear arguments relating to this motion.

Last year, I had some discussions with others who were interested in seeing an intervenor motion filed in the dissolution lawsuit. One of the major issues brought up was that there was some doubt that under New York that members themselves would have standing. It was thought that only a sitting director would have standing to intervene in the dissolution lawsuit.

We now know, thanks to a letter filed this afternoon with the court by Taylor Bartlett, attorney for Tait and Aguirre, that this issue will now be off the table. There will be one, if not two, sitting directors joining the motion to intervene on behalf of the members of the NRA.

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William Brewer himself, the world’s most brilliant attorney according to some of the lesser minds on the NRA board, wasted no time filing a letter to the judge stating that he found the request for leave by the intervenors to file an amended motion “improper”. He then indicates in so many words that the NRA is prepared to fight this motion.

I have been told confidentially the name of one of the potential directors who will be joining in the motion to intervene. As such, I respect that trust and will hold off on announcing the name until it is announced in the court proceedings.

I would also point you to a post this afternoon by David Codrea concerning this letter to the court by Taylor Barlett for his take on it.

NRA Annual Meeting In Houston Canceled

The 2021 NRA Annual Meeting scheduled for Labor Day Weekend in Houston has been canceled. The official reason given was due to COVID-19.

The email sent out to the Board of Directors from NRA President Carolyn Meadows included this announcement:

Due to concern over the safety of our NRA family and community, we regret to inform you that we have decided to cancel the 2021 Annual Meeting & Exhibits. This cancellation applies to all events and meetings that were scheduled in Houston. We will provide future notification regarding a rescheduled date for the annual Meeting of Members.
 
We make this difficult decision after analyzing relevant data regarding COVID-19 in Harris County, Texas. We also consulted with medical professionals, local officials, major sponsors & exhibitors, and many NRA members before arriving at this decision. The NRA Annual Meeting welcomes tens of thousands of people, and involves many events, meetings, and social gatherings. Among the highlights of our annual meeting are acres of exhibit space featuring the latest and greatest firearms, the display of countless accessories, and the offering of adventures and group gatherings that many travel hundreds, and some even thousands, of miles to experience. We realize that it would prove difficult, if not impossible, to offer the full guest experience that our NRA members deserve.    The NRA’s top priority is ensuring the health and well-being of our members, staff, sponsors, and supporters.  We are mindful that NRA Annual Meeting patrons will return home to family, friends and co-workers from all over the country, so any impacts from the virus could have broader implications. Those are among the reasons why we decided to cancel our 2021 event.
 
We would like to thank our members, attendees, exhibitors, and staff for their understanding and support. We are grateful for the many contributions of the George R. Brown Convention Center, state and local officials, community organizers, area hotels, and countless event venues across Houston. We receive enormous support from Houston and the State of Texas – and we hope to return to the Bayou City for a full annual meeting experience.
 
The NRA looks forward to a Celebration of Freedom in Louisville in May 2022. In the meantime, we will support many other NRA local events and smaller gatherings – in a manner that is protective of our members and celebrates our Second Amendment freedom.    
 
We wish continued health and safety to our entire NRA family. 

I hate to say it but I’m kind of relieved. I just wasn’t feeling the excitement about it that I normally do. I’ll miss seeing some friends but more were probably staying away.

Not Good Signs For NRA

The blog NRA In Danger is reporting on two more indicators of trouble for the NRA.

First is regarding the NRA Annual Meeting scheduled for Labor Day Weekend in Houston. They report that only half of the booth space has been rented out with little more than a month to go. That in and of itself isn’t good. They also note that organizations like the Second Amendment Foundation which have traditionally had booths at the Annual Meeting are turning down the “opportunity”. I had known that and was told by my friends at SAF that they considered it a “waste of money” to be there.

The second is even more disturbing. It concerns upkeep of the NRA headquarters building in Fairfax. Even when not occupied or lightly occupied, you still have to do the upkeep or the building falls apart.

Second, the headquarters building is being allowed to deteriorate. Rain is penetrating the roof, sometimes pooling on the floor and running through passages through floors to soak lower stories. Most of the surviving employees are still working from home, so this is a building that has largely been unoccupied for over a year, and over two summers. Likely a major mold problem will follow, if it isn’t there already. There is money enough for tens of millions in legal fees, but no money to fix the headquarters roof.

NRA in Danger speculates that the board is unaware of these issues as they are being kept in the dark by Wayne and the rest of the Gang of Four. If so, it is malfeasance on the part of the leadership and a continued refusal by the board to do their fiduciary duty of care.

Thank You, Brownells

The “Made in America” pre-Independence Day promotion at Brownells raised over $150,000 for the Firearms Policy Foundation. This money will certainly help the FPF in supporting their Second Amendment legal efforts.

In another day or time, you have to think this donation would have gone to another firearms group. You know that one where this donation would only cover about 1/10th of the Executive VP’s annual salary? Or maybe a fraction of the monthly billing from their outside counsel? Yeah, that one.

From the release:

Brownells donated more than $150,000 to the Firearms Policy Foundation, with money generated by the “Made in America” promotion at Brownells.com leading up to Independence Day.

The Firearms Policy Foundation is a 501(c)3 organization which helps fund the Firearms Policy Coalition, a 501(c)4 dedicated to defending the Constitution of the United States, especially the individual right to keep and bear arms.

The donation will help with the on-going struggle to restore and eventually expand constitutionally guaranteed Second Amendment rights for all Americans.

“I want to thank everyone who bought American to help save the 2nd Amendment,” said Brownells Chairman Pete Brownell.   “We all benefit from the great work of the Firearms Policy Coalition.”

“On behalf of the FPC team and our members, we are humbled and honored that Brownells and its amazing customers have so generously provided this significant funding for our critical pro-rights legal and education programs, including dozens of active lawsuits and new cases being prepared today,” said FPF Chairman and FPC President Brandon Combs. “Especially in this era where our rights are under attack at all levels, from the Biden administration to local governments like San Jose, California, every dollar counts and will go straight to the front lines in principled efforts to defend and expand individual liberty,”

The FPC has been involved in several recent high-profile Second Amendment court cases, including Miller v. Bonta which resulted in California’s ban on so-called “assault weapons” to be declared unconstitutional.

FPC also filed suit against Nevada’s recent ban on homebuilt firearms, and filed a brief in support of the right of all Americans to carry arms on their person in public.

To find ways to become involved in the struggle to maintain and recover 2nd Amendment rights, visit the Brownells Second Amendment Action Center.