Reformer Victory in NRA Election Doesn’t Mean The Job Is Done

by Tommy Grant

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A few days ago, the NRA had a change in leadership. With Executive VP Wayne LaPierre resigning from the organization amid scandal and resulting court turmoil, the top seat in the organization along with several others was up for election. The EVP slot went to Doug Hamlin, who previously ran NRA Publications. The first and second VP positions (below the EVP) also went to reformers.

This obviously leaves the organization in a position to fix itself, focus better on the gun rights and training missions and perhaps even avoid a court-appointed monitor.

But, we also need to keep in mind that the wins weren’t a total sweep and they weren’t unanimous. The mostly figurehead president seat went to former congressman and Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr, who was not among the reform candidates. Barr is also known for a gun accident he once had at an event held in his honor. The seats that were won still had a significant showing by the old guard, with the EVP seat going to reformers in a 35-31 vote.

In other words, we shouldn’t count the old guard out. With only a small shift in the winds, the establishment that let Wayne LaPierre destroy the organization’s credibility and distract it from its missions could easily assert control again in the coming years. Neither members, the wider gun owning community that isn’t NRA members, nor the courts should assume that the organization is necessarily committed to being on the right track.

The other problem I see in the reporting from the recent annual meeting is that the organization is a little too comfy with the Republican Party, and intends to fight hard for Republican victories in the upcoming elections. While gun ownership and a commitment to gun rights is common among conservative Republicans, we have to keep in mind that this sadly isn’t always the case.

For example, Donald Trump may have given a great speech at the meeting and promised all sorts of great things, but if we want to be honest with ourselves we need to ask where this version of Trump was when he was in office. Not only did Trump ban bumpstocks, but voiced support for “red flag” gun laws (“I like taking the guns early…Take the guns first, go through due process second.“) and even had Dianne Feinstein jumping for joy when he supported a ban on “assault weapons” (a position he supported in his 2000 book The America We Deserve).

The obvious counter-argument to this is that Trump is better than Biden on guns, which is true. But, if we fail to hold Republicans accountable and demand that they do right by us on guns, they can give us more gun control than Democrats do when we all rightly oppose their nonsense. This is basically what happened with Barack Obama, who utterly failed at passing any significant gun control and even begrudgingly repealed the ban on guns in national parks, while Trump took several actions against guns with minimal opposition. Worse, many Republicans claimed Trump was pulling some sort of “4D chess” move!

If we don’t have an NRA that’s independent enough to hold conservative politicians’ feet to the fire as much as they do the liberals, we’re leaving some pretty big gaps in the armor against gun control. That’s not a good thing!

Between the very real threat to responsible NRA leadership the old guard still poses and an overly-cozy relationship with the Republican Party and Donald Trump, it’s clear that we can’t stop fighting for a better NRA.

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