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June 26, 2019

NRA Fratricidal Fire Undermines the Second Amendment

“I do not support Wayne LaPierre continuing as the EVP/CEO of the NRA.” —NRA board member Allen West

“The ultimate authority … resides in the people alone. … The advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation … forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any…” —James Madison (1788)

When I was 19, during the summer between my freshman and sophomore years, I graduated from a state police academy, which provided certification to work as a uniformed patrolman while completing my undergraduate degree. I was old enough to carry a sidearm as a police officer, but too young to purchase a handgun for academy training, so a department head purchased the gun for me to use for qualifications. These were the days just before semi-auto pistols became the standard sidearm, and my supervisor suggested a Colt revolver — a .357 Magnum Python with a four-inch barrel. It was my first sidearm, and I still have it.

I was the youngest recruit at the academy that summer, but on qualification day, I took the top marksmanship award with that Python — much to the mocking of the more experienced officers in my class. In the years that followed, I was involved in more than a few memorable calls ranging from humorous to life-threatening, and that Python was on my side for the whole tour. I even had the privilege of walking perimeter gun for two presidents.

A few years after graduating from college, I heard about two six-inch Pythons that were part of an estate sale — serial numbers three and five — and I managed to purchase those guns ahead of the auction for $2,500. That was a LOT of money 30 years ago, and it was the most expensive “collectible” purchases I’ve had ever made. But I have no regrets. In 2016, when doing an insurance evaluation, I thought those guns might now be worth twice their original value, and had each appraised. Much to my surprise, multiple appraisals returned values well into six figures for the pair. I was shocked at those valuations and decided against keeping something of such value in my house and paying those premiums.

Why am I telling you this?

Because I could’ve sold the two Pythons and put the proceeds against our home mortgage. But instead of having those end up in a private collection on somebody else’s shelf, I decided to share them millions of NRA members, and donated the pair to the NRA National Firearms Museum. They now belong to the membership.

I did so because, like all Patriots, I’m a Second Amendment advocate, and I want this donation to help inspire the next generation of Second Amendment defenders. Far more important than the value of those Pythons as works of art (which I think they are) is the fact that we need defenders of American Liberty in every generation — those who are committed to ensuring that “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Which leads me to this…

There is no way to put a smiley face on the contentious and disgraceful leadership disputes at the National Rifle Association. While those spilled into the public domain in April, for years concerns about how the organization spends its member dues have been simmering among some board and staff members.

After former NRA President Oliver North resigned in late April — during the national convention and NRA board meeting in Indianapolis — it became clear that those expenditure concerns were not only unresolved, but had metastasized.

For the record, I’m a lifetime member of the NRA.

Let me state clearly that I take no pleasure in publishing the following analysis, which may infringe upon some annual support from a few NRA principals. But my devotion and our Patriot Post team’s allegiance is, first and foremost, to Liberty, which is protected, first and foremost, by our Constitution’s Second Amendment. Thus, central to The Patriot Post’s mission is advocating for the Second Amendment.

By extension, we stand with the grassroots Americans who sustain Liberty — and the five million NRA members whose dues sustain that organization’s standing as the nation’s foremost defender of the Second Amendment against enemies seeking to weaken or repeal that venerable “palladium of the liberties of the republic.”

In his resignation letter, North, who was elected to his NRA office in May of 2018, wrote about his concern regarding the organization’s spending, and specifically that of NRA Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Wayne LaPierre: “There is a clear crisis — it needs to be dealt with immediately and responsibly so the NRA can continue to focus on protecting our Second Amendment.” North was in the process of setting up a special committee to look into alleged financial misappropriations, which he believed were serious enough to threaten the NRA’s nonprofit status.

LaPierre, who has been at the NRA’s helm since 1991 and has the support of most of the NRA board, retained his position after North’s departure. He’s been a very effective leader for many years, and he now enjoys an annual compensation package of more than $5 million.

The NRA tried to contain this internal dispute, but within weeks of North’s resignation and replacement by Carolyn Meadows, one of the NRA’s most respected board members, Allen West, called for LaPierre’s resignation.

West, a former U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, former U.S. congressman, and longtime defender of the Second Amendment, said: “I do not support Wayne LaPierre continuing as the EVP/CEO of the NRA. There is a cabal of cronyism operating within the NRA and that exists within the Board of Directors. It must cease, and I do not care if I draw their angst. … It’s very important for us to have the trust and confidence of the members.” West added, “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.”

West and other NRA board members and supporters also objected to a now-revealed “sweetheart deal” between LaPierre and his board supporters, to provide him a $6 million house at donor expense.

And LaPierre is starting to take heat from conservative media personalities like Fox News host Steve Hilton, who offered this “For years Wayne has taken NRA members’ money to live the life of a king, but he’s not a king. He’s the head of a nonprofit trusted by millions to use its funds to secure constitutional rights. Wayne LaPierre is an odious little grifter and it’s time for him to go.”

Indeed it is.

At a time when the mayors of the nation’s most powerful socialist Democrat urban centers, New York and Los Angeles, in collusion with their Leftmedia propagandists, are trying to silence the NRA’s advocacy of our First Civil Right — the Second Amendment — by suppressing the organization’s First Amendment rights, the NRA dispute has become a very public distraction from its all-important agenda.

LaPierre said of the New York case, “This is perhaps the most important First Amendment case in the history of the United States of America.” Unfortunately, what the NRA leadership is also dealing with is the most significant challenge to its organizational support and tax status in its history, and the Demo/MSM talkingheads are basking in the glow of this circular fratricidal fire.

Coinciding with North’s resignation, the NRA sued its ad agency, Ackerman McQueen, over millions of dollars in billing issues and amid accusations of questionable expenses, including those of LaPierre. As a result, the NRA announced Tuesday that it is shutting down NRATV.

Then, earlier this month, LaPierre decided to file suit against North over his alleged effort to “coerce” LaPierre’s resignation.

Adding insult to injury, LaPierre then suspended NRA legislative director Chris Cox for the same reason. Cox, who also ran the NRA’s PAC and was arguably more indispensable than LaPierre, responded to his suspension, saying, “For over 24 years, I have been a loyal and effective leader in this organization. My efforts have always been focused on serving the members of the National Rifle Association, and I will continue to focus all of my energy on carrying out our core mission of defending the Second Amendment.”

In the best interest of the NRA’s mission, Cox elected to resign. His resignation was followed by four other board members.

By way of disclosure, I’ve met all of the above players, but I know LaPierre and Cox primarily by reputation.

However, I first met LtCol Oliver North more than 30 years ago when he worked for Ronald Reagan’s National Security Council. After his involvement in the so-called Iran-Contra Affair, I helped North’s former commanding general raise the funds necessary for North’s legal defense. In 1991, his convictions were vacated and reversed, and all charges filed against him dismissed.

Suffice it to say, I supported North because he was then, and remains now, a Patriot of the first order.

As for LtCol Allen West, in 2003 The Patriot Post was his earliest defender after he was charged with violating Articles 128 (assault) and 134 (general article) of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The charges stemmed from an incident during Operation Iraqi Freedom, when West received an intelligence briefing of a pending plot to ambush men under his command near Tikrit, Iraq. In an effort to convince a detainee to divulge what he knew about the plot, West discharged his sidearm within safe proximity of the man’s head. “I know the method I used was not right,” said West, “but I wanted to take care of my soldiers.”

He did just that, and in order to defend West, we launched a successful media campaign. His charges were ultimately referred to an Article 15 proceeding instead of a court-martial, which resulted in a fine, but he was still relieved of his command. Notably, there were no ambushes against American forces in Taji until after West’s departure.

As is the case with Oliver North, Allen West is a Patriot of the first order.

The bottom line with the NRA disputes is this: It’s Wayne LaPierre against North, West, and Cox — and, increasingly, against the NRA’s grassroots membership. So, who should I side with amid what firearms policy expert Stephen Gutowski correctly labels “Chaos at the NRA”?

As such battles of Titans go, there is one thing that is plain to me, and it does not require taking any side other than that of the Second Amendment.

In his own letter to the NRA board about the dispute, LaPierre began with these words: “Leaders in every walk of life must often choose: between what is true, and what is polite; between what is convenient, and what is right.”

Regardless of the accusations being fired between battle lines, and taking full account of Wayne LaPierre’s remarkable service leading the NRA’s defense of the Second Amendment for decades, a growing number of NRA members agree with Allen West — that “what is right” for the good of the organization and its mission is for LaPierre to fall on his sword and humbly bow out. The fact he did not do so months ago is troubling.

Watching the NRA’s slow-motion leadership meltdown is reminiscent of another recent leadership meltdown that has left a once-great conservative organization in marked decline. It is my hope that the NRA does not go the way of the Boy Scouts of America. The NRA board needs to understand that the current dispute will show up in waning support for the organization in the coming years, if not resolved now.

The NRA’s most visible supporter, Donald Trump, insists, “The NRA … must get its act together quickly, stop the internal fighting, and get back to greatness fast!”

Achieving that goal is LaPierre’s responsibility.

All who stand with us as defenders of American Liberty have a stake in resolving the NRA dispute, and Justice Joseph Story outlined why in his foundational Commentaries on the Constitution: “The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them.”

Contact the NRA to let them know your concerns. Call (800) 672-3888 or link to the contact page, or for members, link to the member services page and use the chat window at bottom of page.

(P.S. Wayne, if you can’t do the right thing, my wife would appreciate the return of those Pythons so we can retire our mortgage.)

(P.S.S. For the record: Tom Selleck, a member of the NRA since he was 8-years old, and a board member and the face of the NRA after his friend Charlton Heston resigned as spokesman in 2003, tenured his resignation from the board in September of last year. According to his publicist, he resigned “due to his work schedule,” but “remains a member of the NRA.” In his most recent member-election to the board in 2017, Selleck received 110,000 votes, almost 20,000 more than the next closest candidate.)

Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis
Pro Deo et Libertate — 1776

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