The outcome of the “reformers'” (or “internal enemies'” depending on who you’re talking to) attempt to unseat NRA Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre was never really in doubt; the question was how many votes would challenger Allen West receive from the 76 members of the NRA Board of Directors.
At Monday’s board meeting, which was closed to the general press but open to NRA members, 62 of those 76 board members were on hand for the vote, and the vast majority of them cast their vote in favor of the status quo. Only one board member voted for West, with 54 directors voting to keep LaPierre and seven others abstaining. That’s even less than the two votes that former NRA board member Rocky Marshall received when he challenged LaPierre’s leadership at the 2021 board meeting.
Frank Tait, one of the “reformers/internal enemies” who has unsuccessfully run for the NRA board in previous elections, said afterwards that he wasn’t surprised at the lopsided nature of the vote, but warned that New York Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit against the NRA could still lead to a federal judge replacing LaPierre on his own if and when the case goes to trial. That’s not expected to happen until next year, however, and Tait says that unless there is a widespread effort on the part of rank-and-file members to push board members to replace LaPierre, any efforts at internal reform aren’t likely to succeed.
“I would say right now I’m very disappointed in where things are and I need to reflect on where we go from here,” said Tait shortly after the board meeting concluded. “The only hope seems to be Judge Cohen in New York, who took the dissolution of the organization off the table and will hopefully put the structure in place that will allow the organization to grow and refocus on its core mission.”
For the most part, the portions of the board meeting not held in executive session were uneventful, but there were a few other notes of interest:
- The official attendance figure announced by NRA President Charles Cotton was 61,254; down substantially from the 80,000+ members who attended the convention pre-pandemic, and the lowest attendance figure since the 2006 Annual Meetings in Milwaukee. Cotton noted that the conference being held over the Memorial Day likely led to some folks staying home, but also acknowledged that the shooting in Uvalde, Texas just days before the convention began likely kept some members and would-be attendees from showing up at the George R. Brown Convention Center
- Cotton spoke about a preliminary report from the “Relocation Committee” that’s investigating moving the NRA’s headquarters from Fairfax, Virginia to another part of the country. According to Cotton, a feasibility study conducted on behalf of the committee determined that the best site for a potential relocation was “north Texas,” though no specific city was cited.
- NRA’s Director of General Operations Joseph DeBergalis was asked by former NRA President Sandra Froman about the status of the organization’s School Shield program, which was launched after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012. The program has been basically on ice since 2019, but DeBergalis says he’d like to not only bring the program back but expand it to become a “Community Shield” program that would also address security at places like shopping malls and churches.
Though the NRA Annual Meetings have concluded, we have plenty of more coverage to come once I’m back on the ground in Virginia. The most immediate test of the group’s strength is already underway as a bipartisan group of senators works to craft some type of compromise legislation on gun control; most likely something to do with background check bills. One final note from the board meeting; NRA-ILA executive director Jason Ouimet told board members that it’s very likely that Joe Biden’s second choice for ATF Director will win Senate approval. Former U.S. Attorney and failed Democratic candidate for Ohio Attorney General Steve Dettelbach is likely to win confirmation, with Sen. Angus King of Maine announcing his support for the anti-gun politician last week.