I Disagree With Mr. Pearson

Richard Pearson is the Executive Director of the Illinois State Rifle Association. He has held that position for many years and I have a lot of respect for what he has done over the years in a difficult state.

In the course of his job, he puts out a weekly email newsletter dealing with gun rights, issues within the Illinois General Assembly, and other issues.

In this week’s issue, he started off regarding problems within the NRA. Specifically it dealt with declining membership, declining revenues, and Wayne LaPierre. He said:

The online publication “The Reload” reported what we already suspected about the NRA and their financial condition. The phalanx of lawsuits launched against the NRA and Executive Vice President, Wayne LaPierre, has hurt them badly.  Of course, the lawsuits were designed to do just that.  Legal fees now make up 20 percent of the NRA’s expenses.  The Reload sort of backhands the NRA for paying Wayne LaPierre’s legal expenses but in the real world, that is what has to be done.  LaPierre was acting on behalf of the NRA and I am glad they are backing him up.

There are those who want Wayne LaPierre fired immediately.  I am not one of those.  First of all, to fire Wayne LaPierre at this time would give the anti-gunners an immediate victory.  Secondly, just who do you have in mind to take that job at this time?  You may have noticed there are no long lines of people applying for the position. Their name plate wouldn’t be on the office door before they were sued.  Third, there is no one who has the corporate knowledge that he has.  Like it or not, that is important.  These are perilous times.  You may not like the captain but it still wouldn’t be a good idea to replace him with the cabin boy.

I would agree that the NY Attorney General’s lawsuit has hurt the NRA. I would also say that given what has been contained in the allegations and what many of us know to be true that it is also a self-inflicted injury. There would have been no grounds to bring a suit to dissolve the NRA if Wayne and company hadn’t treated it like their personal piggybank. Moreover, if the Board of Directors had done their fiduciary duty – which I contend they have not – then the issues would have been identified and remedied long ago.

It is the second paragraph with which I really take issue. Firing Wayne might be seen as a victory for the gun prohibitionists. It would, however, be a win for every one of us who wants to see a reformed NRA where money is spent wisely and judiciously, which has a board doing its fiduciary duty, and, most importantly, a NRA that stops compromising on Second Amendment issues.

As to the second point, Wayne and his coterie of followers have actively prevented any sort of succession plan. In October 2020 I attended the NRA Annual Meeting. I did so at my own expense. I presented a well thought-out resolution calling for a formal succession plan. I watched as directors Joel Friedman, Don Saba, and Kayne Robinson savaged my resolution saying it was not needed. I watched Wayne himself raise his hand to vote against this. Study after study has shown successful organizations have formal succession plans; troubled organizations do not.

Finally, to the third point, there was a person who not only had the corporate knowledge but had the skills to replace Wayne. Thanks to Wayne’s paranoia and what I suspect was the Machiavellian string-pulling by Bill Brewer, Chris Cox was forced out of the NRA after heading the institute for Legislative Action for many years. He was the natural successor and thus a threat to Wayne’s continuing in office. While I can’t speak for Mr. Cox, I get the feeling he would have booted Bill Brewer’s gaudy, pin-striped ass out the door if he had his choice.

I agree with Mr. Pearson that the NRA will continue to struggle for a long time. I am also gratified to see other Second Amendment organizations stepping up on the national scene. However, none of these have the clout, real or perceived, on Capitol Hill of the NRA. Imagine what a growing NRA with the spine of a GOA, the dexterity of a FPC, and the legal prowess of the Second Amendment Foundation could do in battling the Biden Administration and the gun prohibitionists in Congress. Unfortunately, until Wayne is gone, that will only be a pipe dream.

Head In The Sand Approach Doesn’t Help Gun Rights – Or Gun Rights Organizations

The Illinois State Rifle Association has always been at the forefront in the fight for gun rights. They are the NRA affiliate in the Prairie State but have often paired with the Second Amendment Foundation on lawsuits. I’ve met their executive director Richard Pearson at a number of Gun Rights Policy Conferences. I respect the work he does in a state with so many challenges to the Second Amendment.

Sometimes, however, you have to disagree with people respect and call out a head in the sand attitude. Thus is the case with something Richard wrote in today’s ISRA Thursday Bulletin.

The NRA is under constant attack these days. These attacks come in a couple of ways. First, of course, is just a straightforward attack on the Second Amendment and law-abiding gun owners. That is you and me folks. The second part of the attack is a propaganda campaign to make members doubt their own organization. Don’t fall for it. This whole propaganda attack is funded by Bloomberg and others like him. Bloomberg and company are trying to erode the loyal NRA base and prevent potential new members from joining. Has the NRA ever made any mistakes? Probably, but so has every other organization. If the NRA did, it was with the best intentions in trying to defend our Second Amendment. I have no qualms about that.

He is correct that the NRA is under attack from the gun prohibitionists.  However, I take exception to what Richard characterizes as the second part of the attack. Yes, The Trace is a Bloomberg funded organization and yes it contributed to the reporting in The New Yorker. However, as a NRA Board Member said to me, facts don’t lie. What was printed in The New Yorker is an expose’ of the NRA but that doesn’t make it wrong or incorrect. Moreover, self-dealing and feathering one’s own nest through insider deals is not “with the best intentions in trying to defend our Second Amendment.” What those involved have done is put the future of the organization at risk through their personal avarice.

I have plenty of qualms about that.

Lawsuit Against Deerfield (Illinois) AWB Makes Fox And Friends

Richard Pearson, Executive Director of the Illinois State Rifle Association, was interviewed this morning on Fox and Friends regarding the lawsuit that ISRA and the Second Amendment Foundation have filed against the Village of Deerfield, Illinois. The lawsuit seeks a restraining order against the village’s recently enacted assault weapons (sic) and high capacity (sic) magazine ban on the grounds that village doesn’t have the authority to do so under Illinois state law.

You can see the video of the interview here.

ISRA’s Week In Review

As you can imagine, this has been a very busy week for the Illinois State Rifle Association and Richard Pearson. He has sent out the following week in review which gives more perspective on the bills and the machinations of the gun prohibitionists in the Illinois General Assembly.

January 4, 2013 – The Week in Review – The Unabashed Arrogance of the Gun Control Movement

As most of you know, this has been a very tense week for the law-abiding Illinois firearm owner. As most of us were getting ready to ring in the New Year, Senate President John Cullerton and his band of gun controllers were secretly preparing a major offensive against your gun rights. We got wind of the pending attack on your 2nd Amendment rights early in the week and immediately called together our lobbyists and strategic planners to build a defense.

When we finally saw the public release of the Cullerton plan mid-week, we were shocked at what we saw. Based on recent events, we fully expected to see legislative proposals to ban so-called “assault weapons,” and so-called “high-capacity ammunition feeding devices.” However, those affronts to your rights paled in comparison with what Cullerton’s proposal entailed. Here is a sampling of the extremist proposals advanced by Cullerton’s gun-grab plan:

– The Illinois State Police would be given full control over the design and operation of commercial gun ranges in the state. That control would extend from the design of the bullet backstops to qualifications of range employees and even to the color of the paint on the walls of the men’s room. The State Police would determine the hours of operation, what types and calibers of firearms could be discharged at the range, and even a minimum number of square feet. Every range customer would have to undergo a background check and each customer’s visit would be logged by the range operator. Any Illinois law enforcement agency could conduct unannounced and warrantless inspections and searches of ranges at any time. Those searches and inspections would extend to range customers and their property. That means that the Chicago Police Department would have the authority to raid a range in Peoria and roust the customers of that range. The bottom line is, this range regulation proposal has the sole objective of running commercial shooting ranges out of business. We had never seen anything like this before, but the intent was clear.

– All semi-automatic firearms would be either banned outright, or be so severely taxed and restricted that ownership would be impractical. We expected to see attempts to ban or regulate AR and AK type firearms, but what we saw in Cullerton’s proposal carried that to an extreme. Cullerton’s gun ban would extend to all semiautomatic rifles, pistols and shotguns. Additionally, many pump action rifles and shotguns would be banned as well. This ban would include such classics as the 1911 and the M1 Garand. Of course, all Glocks, Sig-Sauers, and other popular pistols would be banned as well. Estimates are that about 50% of rifles and 80% of handguns lawfully-owned by Illinois citizens would be subject to ban and confiscation under the Cullerton gun ban.

– A bizarre and convoluted scheme to register all “ammunition feeding devices” capable of holding more than 10 rounds – including magazines, stripper clips, drums, etc. Since none of these devices possess serial numbers, owners of these devices would essentially register them under the “honor system.” Of course, we all know how well criminals stick to the honor system.

The two bills containing these provisions, HB0815 and HB1263, were both assigned to the Senate Public Health Committee for review. This committee is notoriously anti-gun and is stacked 6 to 4 with antigun Democrats under Cullerton’s thumb. On Wednesday night, the two bills came up for hearing before the Senate Public Health Committee. During debate of these two bills, we heard straight from the horses’ mouths what the intents and purposes of these bills were. Sitting there listening to the sponsors and their supporters was a very maddening experience.

Committee testimony given by the anti-gunners confirmed that the gun control movement holds firearm owners in deep contempt. During testimony, the gun controllers claimed that the range restriction bill would actually preserve 2nd Amendment rights while providing public safety. The gun controllers acknowledged that most semiautomatic firearms would be banned, but that people who wished to shoot semiautomatics should be reassured because they would be able to go to an approved range and legally rent semiautomatics to shoot. In other words, you should not be upset about surrendering your $5,000 target rifle because you can still go down to an approved range and get a junker out of the rental case to plink with. This was one of the most condescending lines of testimony I have ever heard levied against the right to keep and bear arms – and the anti-gunners uttered it with completely straight faces. The gun controllers really need to keep in mind that the 2nd Amendment says “keep and bear arms,” not “rent arms.”

Of course, nowhere in any of the testimony given by the bills’ supporters was there any mention of how these restrictions and bans would affect criminals. In fact, the bill proponents became extremely defensive when pro-gun witnesses mentioned anything about violent gun-toting criminals. It was clear that the proponents’ focus was solely on lawfully held firearms. In not so many words, the supporters of these bills claimed that they were good “first steps” to achieving a “civil society.” In the twisted world-view of the anti-gunners, law-abiding citizens are standing in the way of a civil society, not criminals.

As most of you may know, the two bills passed out of the Public Health Committee by 6-4 and 6-3 votes. The next step would be a vote on the floor. Late Thursday, the newspapers were reporting that the sponsors are delaying a vote on the bills because they do not have enough support for passage. Please, don’t be fooled by such claims. These bills are alive and well and can be called up for a vote at any time.

In writing this note, I thought I’d give you a taste of what the ISRA lobbyists experience every day in Springfield. We could not continue to do what we do without knowing that you, the law-abiding citizen, has our back. Your support is crucial to our success – we do all we do for you. So, with that in mind, there are a few things I’d like you to do:

1. Remember that these anti-gun bills are eligible for a full vote of the Senate at any time up through next Wednesday. Do not be lulled to sleep by media claims that the bills are dead.

2. Keep an eye on your email for any alerts the ISRA issues regarding these bills or any other anti-gun activity.

3. Please consider giving the ISRA a generous monetary donation so we may continue the fight for your rights.

Thanks for your time,

Richard A. Pearson
Executive Director
Illinois State Rifle Association

Wise Words

Richard Pearson, Executive Director of the Illinois State Rifle Association, had this advice in his ISRA Thursday Bulletin. I consider them to be very wise words from someone who has been fighting in the trenches for gun rights for a long time.

As you are aware gun owners have been taking a pounding from the anti-gunners and their allies- the main stream media. Those two groups have declared war on gun owners and we will be maligned, degraded, demonized, and bullied in an effort to turn one group of gun owners against another. Don’t fall for it. I am a strong believer in the Farmer Doctrine.

The Farmer Doctrine was adopted at the first Gun Rights Policy Conference in 1985. The Farmer Doctrine is patterned after the NATO Doctrine. The Farmer Doctrine is as follows: Be it resolved that an attack one group of guns and gun owners shall be considered an attack on all guns and gun owners. Therefore we should all rise to the defense of each other.

ISRA Exec. Director On Concealed Carry Vote

Richard Pearson is the Executive Director of the Illinois State Rifle Association. He has spent many years in Springfield fighting for gun rights in the state of Illinois. He released this statement late last night on the failure of HB-148 – the Illinois concealed carry bill – to get the super-majority needed.

5 May 2011

I know you are all down in the dumps about today’s vote but you should not be. I’m not saying you should be happy either. Be pragmatic. That will be hard for everyone on our side of this issue, I realize.

We put 68 votes on the board our first time out. That is great. I know in the end we wound up with 65 and we needed 71. The Mayor and the Governor were threatening everyone they could and we only missed by a few votes. We had promises that weren’t kept, because the threats from the mayor carried more weight than we could deliver, today.

That’s life in Springfield. I know many of you and many of our members see things in black and white. If you ever come across anything in Springfield that is either pure white or completely black run away as fast as you can. It’s a trap. Ask some of our former Governors!

We know who voted one way or the other and why. We will take care of it. I’m not saying that some people shouldn’t be put in the spot light, but not all should because that will solidify their position against us. Some need to be finessed.

If there were a few legislators that need to be in the spotlight, Farnham, Crespo, and Monique Davis would be the three that I would pick.

So where are we? The bill was put on postponed consideration. That means it can be called anytime between now and the second Wednesday in 2013. Now that we have probed and found out the weak spots we can begin working on the bill again.

Firearm owners in Illinois are not the second class citizens Mayor Daley makes us out to be. He asked today for a publicly funded protection detail, once he is retired! Once he is retired, he is a common citizen just like the rest of us. I can’t get the state of Illinois or my city to provide me with armed guards to watch out for me and neither should he.

Fox News Chicago reported this evening that NRA will file a law suit against the state of Illinois and there will be NO input from the Legislature once litigation commences. I am not sure what their sources are, but it was alluded to during the closing statement at the end of debate.

Representative Phelps put a lot of work into this bill. He invited all sides in to negotiate any issues they had with the bill. Conspicuously absent from those discussions was the city of Chicago. They were invited, but never even gave the courtesy of a response.

ISRA Members and our supporters are not quitters and we’re not done. Adversity makes us stronger! We WILL WIN THIS!