LaPierre Finally Out as NRA Goes Down


           New Orleans        I’d like to believe that the death dealing and death defying career of Wayne LaPierre as chief lobbyist and promotor of the gunsels of America is finally over with his pre-trial resignation, but I’m not sure and don’t want to suffer from premature certainty.  His last statement seems more a threat than a promise, when he says, “…I will never stop supporting the NRA and its fight to defend the Second Amendment.  My passion for our cause burns as deeply as ever.”  For the life of me, that sounds like he’s still angling for a payday and expense account somewhere in that blood-curdling campaign.


LaPierre has run the National Rifle Association from his post as executive vice president for 30 years, both as it grew and more recently as his destructive scandals have brought it low.  The NRA originally begun by Civil War veterans who wanted to see improvements in marksmanship has morphed under LaPierre from a gun safety and sports organization, that many of us joined as Boy Scouts without a second thought back in the day, to a bastion of the far right in this country.  Without a second thought, LaPierre was able to let school and other mass shooting tragedies roll off the back of the organization, as an absolutist refusing in most cases to budge on any common sense citizen protections.


In recent years the NRA has been a quieter, though not necessarily an ineffective, force in the gun cultural wars, partially as killings decreased support and LaPierre’s own greed grabbed the headlines.  He is coming up on a civil trial in New York, led by the Attorney General Letitia James, over his corruption, where he is being accused of flaunting the organization’s nonprofit charter and using the NRA as a personal piggybank.  Charges for $250,000 for private planes and travel around the world for himself and his family are central to the case, as are huge amounts for personal clothing purchases.  LaPierre in a tacit admission of the inappropriateness of some of the expenditures has reportedly paid back over one-million to the organization.


The impact of his mess has been devastating to the NRA.  Membership has fallen from 6 million five years ago to 4.2 million now, and income has dropped 44% since 2016 with millions expended in legal fees as well.  If LaPierre’s loyalty to the NRA was something more than tongue-flapping, he would have resigned years ago.  Instead, he weathered various internal coups in 2019 and tried unsuccessfully to even reincorporate the organization in Texas as a friendlier venue rather than New York.


If LaPierre finally departs the scene, will this lead to a better NRA or a safer world from gun violence in America?  It’s a little bit like Christians wondering if Satan is gone, will there still be a Hell.  Given the embrace of guns by the right and many of the red states and the specious decisions of the Supreme Court, this is something that will divide us for a long time as the death count of innocents rises until finally we win consensus on controls.