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Wayne LaPierre Is Gone From The NRA - Now What?

The new symbol of the NRA needs to be a modern black rifle.

On January 5th, 2024, the National Rifle Association of America aka the NRA announced the impending retirement of Executive Vice President (EVP) and CEO Wayne LaPierre. Serving in the position since 1991, LaPierre oversaw the NRA during some of it’s most tumultuous years. From the years of the thankfully-repealed “Assault Weapons” Ban, to the post-Bruen landscape of today, “WLP” proved to be a lightning rod for the anti-2A forces, the mainstream media, and Second Amendment supporters alike. Between this and Texas, 2024 is already lit.

Conveniently enough, LaPierre chose to retire just before his civil trial to combat accusations of fraud was to begin. Filed by anti-2A New York State Attorney General Letita James (the NRA was incorporated in New York State at the time), the suit alleges that LaPierre and other NRA top brass misused charitable funds, engaged in fraud, and other financial crimes. While it’s obvious James filed the charges in a political witch-hunt, the accusations will be hard for LaPierre to fight, owing to his extravagant lifestyle (bespoke suits, private jets, the works) and multi-million dollar yearly salary.

The prevailing theory is that LaPierre chose to retire with some dignity, rather than being forced out of the NRA by the courts. Regardless of his motivations, the seat is now vacant, and no doubt being hotly contested behind the scenes on Waples Mill Road…

Of course, the anti-2A types saw this as a huge victory, feeling that their favorite boogeyman had been cowed. However, the joke was on them as most pro-2A advocates were glad to see him go as well. Regarded as a bit of a Fudd at best, most Second Amendment Radicals and armed citizens felt he was well past his sell-by date in terms of gun rights.

So, with LaPierre on the way out, what now for the NRA?

A Little History on “WLP”

Of course, before we can chart a course on where the NRA should go post-Wayne, we should know where he took the organization during his tenure.

Oddly enough, LaPierre got his start in the gun rights movement as an aide to Democratic Virginia Delegate Vic Thomas. Yes, back in the day, a Democrat could easily support the Second Amendment while adhering to the traditional Democratic planks of union support, the environment, and social services. And yeah, that meant WLP was originally a Democrat. Go figure.

After his stint with Thomas, LaPierre joined the NRA in 1977, around the time of the “Cincinnati Revolt”. As a reference, the Revolt took place at the NRA Annual Meeting (NRAAM) that year, and saw a body of activists pivot the organization towards a thankfully more hardline stance in support of the Second Amendment. Additionally, an old-school Second Amendment Radical, Harlon Carter, became EVP that year. Stating “No Compromise - No Gun Legislation”, he represented a new breed of 2A advocate. But more on him later.

Anyway, after Carter and J Warren Cassidy, LaPierre took the EVP/CEO hot seat in 1991. From the get-go he was controversial to both Second Amendment supporters, and Second Amendment opponents. His support of NICS and background checks definitely ruffled some feathers on the pro-2A side, and his (appropriate) labeling of ATF agents as Nazi storm troopers definitely upset statists and gun control supporters alike. He further irritated anti-2A groups in the wake of the Sandy Hook incident when he called for more armed security at schools.

Down the line, with LaPierre’s prompting, President Donald Trump signed the executive order banning bump stocks, winning him no friends on the side of the Second Amendment, and increasing calls for his resignation.

Regardless, LaPierre accrued a certain amount of political power in Washington DC. With a few short paragraphs in American Rifleman, or an email blast, LaPierre could make or break the political careers of all but the most entrenched and powerful figures in the federal government. Even those who were nominally immune from his influence had to fight to wither his attacks. Love him or hate him, WLP was an astute DC operative. Republican candidates for any number of offices would likely detail one of his many SUVs, free of charge, if it meant an endorsement.

With 5 million plus members of the NRA, he was the “general” of a potent voting bloc. One nod from “Uncle Wayne” could inflame the conservative base against an opponent for years.

However, as time went on, many felt WLP was growing out of touch with the modern gun rights movement, and more concerned about his own personal fortunes. Whether that is true or not remains to be seen…

That being said, in crisis, there is an opportunity…

The NRA Needs To Play Hardball

The NRA is undoubtedly in crisis, no doubt. With it’s CEO gone and several other high-ranking members being charged with fraud, the future does seem a bit uncertain. Thankfully, the judge in the fraud case denied AG James’ request to dissolve the organization. So, at least in a legal sense, the organization will survive.

Much like in 1977 though, the NRA is at another pivotal point in it’s history. With recent fumbles in 2A support such as the bump stock debacle, the organization’s dedication to the right to keep and bear arms has rightfully been questioned, with some members canceling their memberships and joining up with more aggressive organizations such as the Firearms Policy Coalition.

With it’s training wing still very much intact, a revitalized NRA should leverage this credibility and couple it with a true hardline, no-compromise approach in the spirit of Harlon Carter. With around 5 million members still on the rolls, this would make the organization a massive force to be reckoned with.

As a whole, the NRA needs to remain viable and intact. While the Association does not consist of the whole of gun owners in the US, it’s status as a lightning rod and “bogeyman” for the progressives cannot be underestimated. Yes, it could collapse tomorrow and we’d all still be here, heavily armed, but a collapsed NRA would be a huge psychological victory to the enemy. Organizations like the FPC don’t have that cultural cachet yet and it would take time for them to fill the void.

In not so many words, the NRA needs to update it’s image, put anything related to “traditional” interpretations of gun ownership on the back burner, and go hard.

And the frontman (or woman!) must be the embodiment of that.

The Ideal Next Executive Vice President/CEO Of The National Rifle Association

To be fair, LaPierre’s departure from the NRA is only part of the issue. In cases like this, the ethos has embedded itself with other facets of the organization, i.e. the Board. People sympathetic to the “old way” need to go, basically. However, that’s a process which will take time.

But it all starts with a new “face” of the National Rifle Association.

At the end of the day, it’s all marketing. Remember how inflamed the progressives got way back in the day when Charlton Heston raised a musket above his head in his “cold dead hands” speech? Yes, even though Heston later advocated for the AWB, the symbolism was important at that time.

People focus on imagery and symbols. An essay with bullet points from the hypothetical new EVP of the NRA would be nice and a worthwhile read, but the hook is in the presentation. And the new guy or gal needs to play to win.

That person needs to absolutely be uncompromising. No wiggle room, no tacit endorsements of red flag laws, NICS, or “enforce the existing laws”. They have to come in like a wrecking ball. NFA repeal, the dismantling of the Brady apparatus, the inclusion of “How To Use And Maintain Your M4” classes in high school, that sort of thing. Heck, piss everyone off and endorse McNukes.

Compromise has only gotten us into the current position we’re in, after all. While the Constitutional Carry revolution and Bruen have been huge victories, we’re still playing defense in many regards. The New NRA needs to be scorched earth.

This is where symbolism comes into play. The official NRA logo needs that eagle clasping two crossed AR-style rifles. Those annoying wine club offers need to go. While the pages of the NRA Blog reflect a more aggressive tone with the featuring of defensive pistols and AR-style rifles, that ethos needs to be front and center.

The new EVP needs to walk out on the stage after his or her election, sporting a slung AR/M4-style rifle, and an openly-carried (and holstered!) pistol in their favorite caliber. Instead of “from my cold dead hands”, they should end their speech with “Fuck Around And Find Out!”.

In this age of 15-second reels, pithy X posts, and creative trolling, it’s the only way to go.

The NRA Has Done Good Things, Let’s Have Them Do Better Things

With it’s excellent training curriculum, body of technical and practical resources for gun owners, and huge amount of political cachet, the NRA has done and is capable of great things. Unfortunately, the organization has been bogged down by infighting and bureaucratic morass. It does seem though that they’ve been moving towards a more hardcore direction, even before LaPierre’s departure, but the momentum needs to be kept up.

Make The NRA Great Again.

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