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My war was the Cold War. I spent a good chunk of my career helping to develop weapons to counter the communist threat. A portion of our intelligence effort was spent attempting to determine what was going on inside of the Soviet Union, who might succeed whom in the leadership, and what it might mean. The called it Kremlinology. Watching the NRA and trying to determine what is happening in its internal politics is much the same . . .

There are the public pronouncements, that tell us some of what happened, always after the fact. While the NRA elections can have a significant effect on select races for the board of directors, the control of the organization has never been in doubt since the late 1990’s.

Wayne LaPierre has led the organization since 1991. That’s 24 years. He has been extremely successful. While maintaining control of the organization in spite of a membership revolt led by Neal Knox, LaPierre learned from the experience. He brought the organization more in line with the political desires of the members, who wanted less compromise, and more offense in the protection of the second amendment.

During Wayne’s tenure, Second Amendment supporters have expanded legal concealed carry to all 50 states and most territories.  The Heller case, originally opposed by the NRA, earned its support. The McDonald decision followed, and  many give the NRA significant credit for supporting that win with an amicus brief.

I’m hearing rumors that Wayne may be considering retirement. He has done very well with the NRA. He is nationally known and loved by more people than those who despise him. The question is, who will succeed him in the executive vice president spot?  That job is the chief executive officer position in the NRA. The president’s post is largely ceremonial.

That’s why the above photo is significant. Chris Cox, currently head of the NRA-ILA, is a clear up-and-coming presence in the organization. He’s heard from more and more these days, and many believe that he is Wayne’s heir apparent.  In the line-up of NRA luminaries displayed at the Music City Center this past weekend, Cox is there right behind LaPierre and ahead of the late great Charlton Heston. That’s exactly the sort of thing a Soviet watcher would attach significance to.

Will Chris Cox be the next executive vice president of the NRA? No one knows for sure. But that’s the smart bet.

©2015 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
Gun Watch

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  1. I think Chris Cox would make an excellent replacement. If nothing else, he will be a tougher target to label/attack as a grumpy old man.

    • He’s well spoken, looks like a normal dude, and doesn’t come off as a crazy psycho cowboy. I like Ted. I agree with him on pretty much everything. I want him to be a pillar of what the NRA stands for. But I also want our front guy to not be such an easy target for anti-personal-responsibility-advocated to paint with a laser designator from orbit.

      • Colion Noir would be a nice freaking combo breaker though. An actual “student of law” lawyer leading the NRA, cruising into HQ in his Infiniti strapped with his rifle and his HK (though I repeat myself), able to shoot down any stupid argument because he has a personality compatible with debating people. Man, that would be nice.

  2. Of all the organizations that have rejected a literal interpretation of “shall not be infringed,” the NRA remains my favorite.

  3. As long as the NRA stays feisty, I don’t care if Paddington Bear runs the show. I think that Chris Cox could do the job, sure. But I also think that all the whiners who complain about Wayne will miss him when he’s gone. He’s been a great leader.

    • I only complain when his mouth is full of his own foot. I will say the NRA should, in addition to continuing their successes over the past decade or so, make an effort to reach a wider audience. We’re getting to a point in the battle with the Watts’ and Bloombergs that optics matter, and the more diverse the NRA membership becomes the less ammunition the opposition will have to lob at us.

    • +1000 The “good guy with a gun” comment completely destabilized the gun control movement’s post Sandy Hook political agenda. It showed that a single well considered, well placed statement has the power to deny success to the gun-control movement’s once-in-a-decade opportunity to advance its cause. Whoever replaces Wayne, has to be at least that good. I vote for Sarah Palin!

      • That’s because truth beats a lie if given the chance.

        I like Wayne, I think hes had a great run, I think he should retire.

    • Oh that would be amazing. And why the heck not? Having an articulate black man as the next VP/spokesperson of the NRA would deflate a lot of the antis rhetoric about the NRA, and gun owners in general in one fell swoop.

  4. Whoever succeeds LaPierre has to have his knowledge of Congressional inside baseball. That’s how the NRA has become so successful since 1994.

    I remember the days before the 1994 Assault Weapon “ban” – the NRA rolled on issue after issue, and kept thinking if they sacrificed another subgroup of gun owners, they could get DC to leave us alone.

    The Brady Bill and AWB showed that no, they won’t leave us alone. After that, we members started howling at the NRA to get tough and learn how to “compromise” in ways that made the anti-gunners choke on the word. The NRA had to quit being just about hook-n-bullet sportsmen issues and start being about self-defense … and that’s what happened. CCW issues started rolling on in state after state, and the net result has been to disprove the anti’s biggest talking point: their idiotic bumper sticker of “more guns means more crime!” CCW laws have proven that to be a flat-out lie.

    Where I really had an issue with the NRA was their opposition to the Heller case. Don Kates told anyone who would listen how we had to construct a case to get cert in front of the SCOTUS, and the NRA refused to listen. Alan Gura must have listened, because he did exactly as Don Kates was telling RKBA people to do from 1993 onwards: find clean, upstanding citizens who have been denied their rights, who have a need as well as the right. Gura followed this formula and lo, we have Heller. Once that was done, the legal argument changed. Without Heller, the situation would be today as it was 20 years ago – where we had a former SCOTUS justice (Warren Berger) telling anyone who would listen that the NRA was full of crap, there was no individual right to keep and bear arms, and the NRA’s position was a “fraud.”

    Heller nailed that door shut. All nine SCOTUS justices agreed (even in the dissents) that there was such an individual right. Sadly, Warren Berger didn’t live to see the day when he would have been forced to eat his words. That the NRA shied away from creating, funding and arguing such a case as Heller has always been a disappointment for me in the organization.

  5. I agree that overall he has been positive. There is room for improvement but I also think many would not do as well. I have said I am not a huge fan but I am also not someone that despises him. He gets a passing grade overall as does the NRA but I don’t think it is wrong to desire improvement. Someone that doesn’t require a revolt to learn and doesn’t try to shift blame from guns to video games and movies for example. In my opinion that was far more stupid to say than what was quoted earlier today. Yet the NRA still has my support and I have absolutely no desire to infringe on a right because of it. I thought that was how it was supposed to work.

    I don’t care if he says things that piss off gun grabbers. On its own that is usually a sign of doing something correct. I don’t care if he pisses off fence sitters that need to be coddled in order to support a right. I only care about him pissing off supporters of gun rights. This includes even a once die-hard anti that finally realizes the error and hypocrisy of their thinking and truly becomes open to supporting a right because it is the right thing to do and not because they need to think LaPierre could be their buddy. I care in this case not because I believe they will start voting for or intentionally supporting gun control but because it could (continue to) cause them not to contribute to defeating those that do.

    • As for gun owners who “need to be coddled”, the best argument I’ve found is to point out that the right to do something entails the right to not do it. They may not want to exercise certain parts of the RtKaBA, but others do — and we all have to stand together in defense of that right, regardless of how much we choose to exercise it, just as we all have to stand together in defense of the right to vote or the right to a fair trial.

    • He has been going head to head with The Brady Bunch/HCI since the mid80s. He has been the counter to Nelson “Pete” Shields and his model to register all guns and then ban them.

  6. Never so mad as the “firearm owners protection act” lost citizens the right to buy “new” machine guns. The NRA rolled over in the literal last minute of bill amendments. If the NRA hadn’t changed to a more 2A organization, it would have been worthless. Wayne learned. Let’s hope tthe successor is even more strident on 2A issues!

    • The problem is, FOPA would never have passed. Hughes added the amendment to try and get it to not pass or get it vetoed. Rangel got the Hughes Amendment added at midnight on a voice vote. Remember Tip O’Neil and The Dems controlled the House and also the Senate. Without FOPA, there would be limited travel protections, no mail order ammo, no buying long guns across state lines, and signing for ammo would still be in place. I wish the Feds would enforce interstate travel protection against states like NJ, NY, MD etc. as they do enforcing the damn Hughes Amendment. I hope Hughes and Rangel both rot in hell with Nelson “Pete” Shields, Lautenberg and Sarah Brady.

      • Could we have achieved those good things later without losing machine guns….? My take is probably. I must say, internet ammo is great!

        • Not in the 90 (or 88 & 89). George Herbert Walker was very anti-gun who pushed the Brady Bill and the Clinton Ban. He wouldn’t have signed it if it got through the Dem controlled Congress. Then along came Clinton when the Clinton ban got passed. Clinton wold have vetoed FOPA. If a FOPA bill got to Dubya from 200 to 2008, he probably would have signed it. You can bank that since 2009, Barry would have vetoed it. So it would have been unlikely to have gotten FOPA through since then. Keep in mind that it was just the internet ammo. Before you had to sign to buy ammo. Buying long guns across state lines is good also.

  7. Chris Cox would be a very wise choice to succeed Wayne LaPierre. He has certainly been very articulate and witty in his presentations and I believe his intelligent soft spoken demeanor would give the left fits in their attempted attacks.

  8. Wayne LPeierre has taken the NRA a very long way. But, he is 66 years old. NRA does not need to imitate our political system where office is pried from their “cold dead hands.” We need to transfer knowledge, skills and relationships. We don’t need Strom “things would have been different” Thurmond at 100, One Eyed Harry Reid or Thad “small animals” Cochrane the by hanging on too long at NRA and loose our effectiveness.

  9. WLP is an enigma to me. I felt more strongly about him watching his UN speech than at any other time. Obviously he knows how to work behind the curtain. In other news…

    Will his “demographic President voter” comment at the recent convention lead to his imminent retirement?

    I like (OK love) Noir but I think at this moment he would best be used in some other position than EVP.


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