The annual membership meeting of the National Rifle Association was held today here in the Indiana Convention Center. It began with an introduction of all of the organization’s top officers…with one notable exception.
That empty spot to the right of Wayne LaPierre (above) was where NRA President Oliver North would have been, had he not announced that he’s done at the end of his term (which is Monday). When he was not able to engineer the removal of LaPierre, he decided he couldn’t continue in his position.
NRA first vice president Richard Childress read a letter to the members from North, in which he expressed displeasure with the law firm that has sued Ackerman McQueen (North is actually an Ackerman employee) and reiterated his desire for a special committee to investigate the allegations against LaPierre.
The large crowd then witnessed all of the usual formalities — the pledge of allegiance, national anthem, calling of the roll — with the addition of the presentation of the inaugural Roy Innis Liberty Award to the family of the late Otis McDonald. McDonald was the named plaintiff in the landmark Supreme Court case, McDonald v. City of Chicago which incorporated the individual right to keep and bear arms under the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
While that was well deserved and certainly inspiring (McDonald’s daughter spoke from the heart for her family as to how meaningful the award was for her and her family), the invisible 800-pound gorilla in the room was the very public allegations of rampant over-spending, lack of controls and double-dealing involving Ackerman and LaPierre’s management of the organization.
But first, the speeches.
LaPierre gave one of his patented stem-winders, inveighing against all of the usual enemies (Andrew Cuomo, Michael Bloomberg, the media, etc.) of the NRA and Second Amendment rights. He repeatedly credited the NRA’s 5.5 million members for their success in fending off efforts to limit the RKBA.
It was over 20 minutes of good old fashioned red meat, guaranteed to please the membership. But any mention of the very public reports of conflicts of interest, rampant cost overruns or board members’ demands that he resign were conspicuous by their absence.
After a similarly typical speech by NRA-ILA’s Chris Cox (his operation has been excluded from reports of mismanagement…it has a general reputation for being well run and efficient) it was time for resolutions from the floor.
And that’s when the temperature was turned up in the room. After an anodyne resolution praising President Trump’s move to withdraw from the UN arms trade treaty, a motion was then made — apparently by someone in support of NRA leadership to adjourn the meeting. That was promptly voted down.
And that’s when a motion was made to express no confidence in Wayne LaPierre’s leadership. That set off a cascade of subsequent motions and points of order by members on both sides of the issue.
Some in opposition argued that the organization shouldn’t air its dirty laundry in such a public forum. The ostensible argument was that the discussion and infighting would only help the NRA’s foes and opponents in pending litigation. A motion was then made to eject members of the press, taking the meeting into executive session. The point was made that with so many people involved, that wouldn’t keep news of what happened from getting out. After much debate on both sides, that motion was defeated.
Ultimately, a motion to take the no confidence resolution before the board — cutting off debate before the full membership — passed. With that, any discussion of the NRA’s pending difficulties, controversies, leadership issues and direction was cut off. After a final motherhood and apple pie resolution in support of Dana Loesch passed, a motion to adjourn the meeting carried and the entire show ended.
The process, however, continues. The question of any impropriety on behalf of LaPierre will now be the province of the full board of directors, which meets tomorrow. In the end, however, as we said earlier, this is something that the NRA will either resolve itself or will be resolved for them by outside actors who don’t have the organization’s interests — or those of gun owners in general — at heart.