Nate Jackson: NRA’s Wayne LaPierre Heads for the Exit

Second Amendment

The National Rifle Association is a critically important organization to the preservation of American Liberty, primarily by way of defending the Second Amendment, but the 153-year-old NRA has gotten itself into a bit of a hole. From the grassroots membership perspective, that hole is largely the responsibility of Wayne LaPierre, the longtime executive vice president who announced his resignation, effective January 31.

The NRA has reportedly shed more than a million members since hitting nearly six million in 2018. Word among those leaving is that it’s primarily due to dissatisfaction with LaPierre’s leadership, though NRA leadership has, at least publicly, remained fiercely loyal.

Since 1991, LaPierre has been the face of the NRA, and he said in his announcement that his “passion for our cause burns as deeply as ever.” There’s no question the NRA has experienced great success over the last three decades. Andrew Arulanandam, formerly head of NRA general operations, will take over and attempt to reinvigorate the organization.

The NRA’s statement said the 74-year-old “cited health reasons as a reason for his decision,” but we suspect the next sentence is the real reason: “The NRA continues its defense of a lawsuit by the New York Attorney General, and LaPierre is an individual defendant in that action.”

New York AG Letitia James promised when she ran for office that she’d do at least two things: nail Donald Trump for … something, and “dissolve the [NRA] in its entirety.” Those are explicitly political goals, not legal ones, which is entirely at odds with being the Empire State’s leading law enforcement official. But she is a Democrat.

Regardless, the timing of LaPierre’s exit came Friday, the same day jury selection ended for today’s trial, and in our view that’s not a coincidence or related to health. James called it “an important victory.” In May 2022, our Mark Alexander gave this summary of the legal battle:

In August 2020, New York’s leftist anti-2A attorney general, Letitia James, filed a civil suit against the NRA, alleging fraud and misuse of charitable funds by some of its executives, including LaPierre. DC Attorney General Karl Racine filed a similar lawsuit against the NRA. In January 2021, LaPierre announced the organization was relocating to Texas and declaring bankruptcy, but a federal judge in Texas ruled that the move and bankruptcy petition “was not filed in good faith” but in order “to gain an unfair litigation advantage” against AG James, and to avoid being regulated by New York.

Fortunately, in March 2022, the state of New York ruled against James’s effort to carve up the NRA, finding it violated the rights of free speech and assembly of NRA members. But the court allowed her actions against LaPierre to proceed.

Yes, James is a political hack and she has yet to prove her case in court, but there’s reason to believe she’s not entirely fabricating the evidence. In 2019, then-NRA President Oliver North resigned, citing mismanagement of donor funds by LaPierre and others. “There is a clear crisis,” North said at the time. “It needs to be dealt with immediately and responsibly so the NRA can continue to focus on protecting our Second Amendment.”

Then-board member Allen West, who later unsuccessfully challenged LaPierre for his post, also said then, “The membership of the National Rifle Association deserves better when it comes to fiscal responsibility because they donate their hard-earned dollars, $25 or $50 at a time, for the protection of the Second Amendment, not the protection of the cabal of cronyism.”

For the record, no one should be happier with the misuse of NRA donor funds than Letitia James. Every dollar spent on fancy suits, lavish vacations, and LaPierre’s $5 million salary is arguably a dollar not spent fighting James and her gun-grabbing ilk. LaPierre will be gone in a matter of weeks, soon after which a Manhattan jury will decide his fate and that of other defendants.

In the meantime, the Second Amendment faces threats as serious and perilous as at any time in our nation’s history. American Patriots need the NRA to right the ship and stay focused on defending that “palladium of liberties.”

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