The jury is still out on whether longtime NRA head Wayne LaPierre’s resignation will lead to substantial changes within the organization, but gun control activists appear to be convinced that not only has his departure sealed the group’s fate, it’s going to allow them to run roughshod over our right to keep and bear arms going forward.
Wayne LaPierre’s retirement signifies a shift in the 2nd Amendment movement in America.
The time is now for gun owners and non gun owners to come together and work to solve the gun violence epidemic.
— 97Percent (@97Percentorg) January 5, 2024
Sen. Murphy on LaPierre's resignation from NRA: “The NRA is a shell of its former self and Wayne LaPierre's exit is a signal of how weak the NRA has become. I just think we're entering an era where we are going to continue to pass improvements in gun laws"
— Burgess Everett (@burgessev) January 5, 2024
I’m not sure if Chris Murphy and groups like 97 Percent really believe their bluster, but let’s not forget that a time when the NRA is a “shell of its former self” we have polls showing households with firearms at an all-time high, supermajority support for the Bruen decision, and other Second Amendment organizations at the national, state, and local level stepping up to take on dozens of gun control laws and bills in courts and committee hearing rooms across the country.
The pro-Second Amendment movement has always been bigger than one organization, and it’s certainly larger than any one individual. Wayne LaPierre may have (and may still hold) the power within the NRA, but the power of the NRA comes from the millions of individual members. Even if the NRA were to disappear tomorrow there would still be millions of Second Amendment activists in the United States who would remain just as committed to the fight as they are today. Depending on the direction the NRA board takes going forward there’s every reason to believe that the organization can increase its membership and see donors return. But even if LaPierre’s resignation is just a case of “meet the new boss, same as the old boss” and the group continues to struggle, the broader Second Amendment community is robust and growing larger by the day.
And let’s be honest here: though Wayne LaPierre was omnipresent in the gun debate for decades, it’s been a few years since that was the case. The days when he would go on CNN, NBC, and other networks to take on the anti-gun media or challenge gun control activists like Rebecca Peters to a televised debate are long gone. I honestly can’t remember the last time I saw LaPierre speak outside of speeches in friendly environments like CPAC or the NRA Annual Meetings, so the idea that he’s still the de facto spokesperson for Second Amendment advocates rings false to me.
I don’t think we have a single spokesperson these days, and that’s probably for the best. The 2A community is too diverse to be represented by a single voice anyway, and thankfully there’s no shortage of advocates on our side who are engaging speakers and have compelling stories to tell. In our post-Bruen environment, I’d argue that a good attorney at least as valuable as a talking head, and we’re in good shape there as well. I could limit Cam & Co to interviews only with 2A lawyers and be able to go for weeks at a time without having to repeat a guest, which wouldn’t have been the case even a decade ago (shameless plug: I’ll be talking with attorney Kostas Moros about California’s gutting of the right to carry on Monday’s show).
LaPierre’s exit from the NRA doesn’t mean that the King of the Second Amendment has been dethroned. We never had a king to begin with, though we did have a Moses. Nor does it spell the imminent demise of the organization (though a few more years of $40 million legal fees might). The judge overseeing New York AG Letitia James’s lawsuit against several of the group’s current and former executives has already taken dissolution off the table, and if the next CEO and executive vice president offers current and potential members (including those who’ve left or quit donating in recent years) financial transparency and fiscal accountability alongside a rock-ribbed commitment to protecting the right to keep and bear arms, I believe the NRA would see its membership numbers quickly begin to grow again.
Would the Second Amendment community benefit from a strong, growing, and vibrant National Rifle Association? Absolutely. Would we and our Second Amendment rights be lost without one? Absolutely not. Even as the organization and its spending have shrunk in recent years, we’ve made enormous strides in securing our 2A rights, and that’s because the Second Amendment movement is truly a grassroots endeavor encompassing tens of millions of Americans who may not agree on much, but come together to protect our individual right to keep and bear arms. The NRA’s source of strength springs from the same well as the strength of the 2A community at large; we the people.
Whatever the NRA’s future holds (and I do hope it is bright), we’re not going away, and I can assure Chris Murphy and 97 Percent’s Olivia Troye that the future of the gun control movement is just as dim as it was before the news of Wayne LaPierre’s retirement broke on Friday afternoon.