Like many Americans and gun owners, I have watched Wayne LaPierre’s destructive antics from afar as he struggles to maintain his iron grip on the National Rifle Association. On Saturday morning, ol’ Wayne’s slash and burn tactics hit home for me.
With a phone call, I learned that the NRA had severed its relationship with the legal dream team representing Guns Save Life and over two million Prairie State gun owners in three critical lawsuits here in the Land of Lincoln. And now we get to pick up the pieces.
I serve as the executive director of Guns Save Life. Gun owners in general in Illinois, and GSL in particular, have enjoyed good support from the National Rifle Association – Institute for Legislative Action in the past.
Without even a hint of exaggeration, I credit the NRA-ILA’s work (via Todd Vandermyde in years past) with saving semi-auto firearms and standard capacity magazines in the Land of Lincoln. And they have done plenty more to minimize the bleeding here.
Not only have we enjoyed the support of NRA-ILA on the legislative side of things, we have enjoyed their support in judicial advocacy as well.
In fact, without the NRA-ILA support, the trio of Guns Save Life lawsuits, including the one we won that blocked the Deerfield gun and magazine ban, likely would not have happened.
But when it comes to these lawsuits, we no longer have the NRA-ILA’s support. On Saturday morning, I got a call from our attorneys. They informed me that Wayne LaPierre had severed the relationship between the NRA and the Cooper & Kirk law firm. It seems NRA EVP and CEO Wayne LaPierre saw Charles Cooper as part of the so-called insurrection attempt against his not-so-benevolent leadership. In Wayne’s world, that meant Cooper had to go.
From The New York Times:
Now Mr. LaPierre is continuing to purge opponents. On Thursday, the N.R.A. dismissed its longtime outside counsel, Charles J. Cooper, the chairman of the Washington law firm Cooper & Kirk, people with knowledge of the decision said. A second outside counsel and a top in-house counsel resigned. The departures come after an internal inquiry showed that the lawyers were involved in an effort to undermine Mr. LaPierre.
Where does that leave our lawsuits, including our win against Deerfield? It leaves them in limbo.
Frankly, LaPierre’s self-centered move terminating the NRA’s relationship with our legal team risks snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. It also does the same in pending suits in other states as well.
For our part, at least for the immediate term, Cooper & Kirk has told me not to worry about the bill. In the long term? We’ve already started scrambling to secure funding.
UPDATE (September 12, 2019):
Senior staff at the NRA has contacted me, and they assure me they (NRA-ILA) are not abandoning Illinois, nor the pending legal actions in the Land of Lincoln.
Later, in the September 5, 2019 ISRA Thursday Executive Director’s Bulletin, ISRA’s E.D. Rich Pearson wrote, “Although the NRA has chosen to discontinue gun rights litigation in Illinois…”
Since then, I’ve learned that arrangements have been secured and the Cooper and Kirk firm will continue to represent GSL and Illinois gun owners in our cases.
The even better news, I’ve learned, is that the NRA-ILA’s litigation people will remain engaged in judicial actions in Illinois, both current and future actions.