A new books had all the anti-gun media a-buzzing. In it, a former NRA executive is, among other things, calling for gun control. It’s just the kind of thing everyone seems to love, that moment someone abandons their cause because they’ve “seen the light.” It becomes fodder for news sites for some time and suddenly, everything they say takes on new importance.
I know because we do the same thing. If a prominent anti-gun advocate flips, we make hay out of it as well. Such is the way of things.
Now, though, former NRA number two man Joshua Powell is the one in the spotlight.
The National Rifle Association’s former second-in-command is breaking with the group’s orthodoxy and calling for universal background checks and so-called red flag laws in a new book assailing the organization as more focused on money and internal intrigue than the Second Amendment, while thwarting constructive dialogue on gun violence.
The former executive, Joshua L. Powell, who was fired by the NRA in January, reinforces the kind of criticism made of the organization by gun control groups and state regulators, but it is the first critical look at its recent history by such a high-ranking insider.
Except, he’s not an insider.
Oh, he was, but he’s not anymore, and that’s an important point. You see, he was fired. That’s a key point that, I think, is being glossed over by some.
Meanwhile, Powell is making some claims.
During his more than three-year tenure, Powell served at various periods as LaPierre’s top deputy and chief of staff, and likens himself to Ned Stark, a well-meaning and ultimately ill-fated counselor to a king in the television show “Game of Thrones.”
A hunter since childhood and former Chicago options and derivatives trader, Powell says that the NRA has fundamentally lost its way, abandoning “its roots as an organization focused on gun safety and education.” That has led it to limit its own long-term membership growth, he argues, by turning its back on the majority of gun owners who support background checks.
Yet during that three-year stint, the NRA didn’t really move that far politically. Oh, if he’d been an exec back in the 80s he might have a point, but he was there in the midst of pretty much everything. After all, he was still in his role up until January of this year.
And while he likes to play like he has some moral problem with the NRA and how they’ve been conducting business, it didn’t stop him from seeking to continue working for the organization.
Powell’s critics see his turn as a tell-all book writer as self-serving. In the weeks before he was fired, he was seeking to restructure his contract and receive $1.7 million as a consultant. “My loyalty to the Association is without question,” he wrote to LaPierre at the time, according to documents reviewed by The Times.
He uses his book to address accusations of nepotism as well as an allegation against him of discrimination based on gender and an allegation of sexual harassment.
And while he was at the NRA, Powell took no action to reset the group’s hard-line course, a choice he discusses in the book.
Now, in fairness to Powell, he acknowledges as much.
“I was part of a message machine that helped to perpetuate the problem and exacerbate the extremism of the gun debate, something I wouldn’t fully appreciate for a long time,” he writes. “I would become lost. And my experience would ultimately convince me that the NRA itself had lost its mission, and lost its way too.”
Except, he wasn’t convinced about jack until they told him to hit the road.
Look, had Powell resigned and then wrote this book, that would have been one thing. Instead, he sought to continue working for the nation’s oldest civil rights organization, only they didn’t want him. Then, mysteriously, he has a “come to Jesus” moment and sees the evil of his ways?
No, this is a way to lash out at the organization and leadership that spurned him. As such, anything he claims in this book needs to be taken with a truckload of salt.