Wayne LaPierre is out at the NRA. Anti-gunners are celebrating this, but so are a lot of pro-gun folks. They didn’t like Wayne and how he did business.
But during his tenure, the nation’s oldest civil rights organization got in a whole lot of hot water. Whether it’s legit or not, it is what it is.
LaPierre, personally, is arguably in more hot water, and his leaving the NRA isn’t getting him out of anything.
LaPierre, 74, had led the NRA for more than 30 years as the organization’s executive vice president. He announced his departure Friday as jury selection neared an end.
He, along with two other current and former NRA leaders and the organization as a whole are fending off a lawsuit brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James in 2020 that alleges they violated nonprofit laws and misused millions of dollars of NRA funds to finance lavish lifestyles for themselves.
The jury will spend the next six weeks in a Manhattan courtroom hearing testimony from roughly 120 witnesses.
If the jurors find the individual defendants liable, they will recommend the amount of money that each defendant would have to repay the NRA.
They would have also been tasked with recommending whether LaPierre should be ousted from the helm of the group, which is now moot.
However, it seems that some still feel like this is the beginning of the end of the NRA.
Among those is legal and constitutional genius Shannon Watts.
But the trial outcome may still have important ramifications, according to Shannon Watts, who founded the gun safety group Moms Demand Action in 2012 in part to challenge the gun lobby.
State Supreme Court Judge Joel Cohen, who has the final say over monetary damages and remedies, could determine whether the defendants should be permanently barred from serving on the board of any charity in New York and whether an independent monitor should oversee the NRA’s finances.
“It was never just about Wayne LaPierre,” Watts said, adding that the organization “needs to be taken down at the studs.”
Apparently, Shannon did get the memo.
New York Attorney General Letitia James tried to dissolve the NRA as a whole, only to have the judge put the kibosh on that plan. That was the right call because of LaPierre is guilty of all the things he’s been alleged to have done, it was the membership of the NRA as a whole who were the victims.
Dissolving their organization because they were victimized is hardly a fitting response.
Admittedly, what Watts wants is an “independent” monitor that will really just hamstring the NRA’s political activities.
See, the issue she has is that the NRA has been effective. She created Moms Demand Action to counter that effectiveness.
What she’s hoping is that with LaPierre gone and the judicial Sword of Damocles hanging over the NRA’s head, it can be so gutted it’s inconsequential.
What Watts doesn’t get is that even if that were to happen–and I seriously doubt a court will approve of anyone trying to curtail the First Amendment activities of anyone–someone else would just pick up the mantle.
In fact, the NRA hasn’t been as outspoken in recent years and what’s happened? The NSSF and GOA have stepped up in the advocacy arena. The Second Amendment Foundation has been relentless in the courts.
The void was filled.
That’s because Wayne LaPierre wasn’t the reason gun control didn’t happen. The NRA wasn’t the reason gun control didn’t happen.
The reason gun control isn’t universal is because the NRA represented millions of gun owners. Now, someone else is filling the void.
Now, understand that if the allegations against LaPierre are true, the NRA is in a tough spot. They’re not out of trouble, even if everything was LaPierre’s fault.
The organization allowed that to happen. They had a system in place that allowed him to take control and maintain it.
I’m pretty sure the courts, while uninterested in curtailing the First Amendment, may well have some stern warnings and directives for how the NRA is governed internally from here on out.
We’ll just have to see.