The Reload Analysis Newsletter

Members’ Newsletter: First Thoughts on the NRA Board Meeting, and Biden’s Uphill Battle

I just got back from the NRA meeting of members and the board meeting. I’ll have more reporting on what happened there this week, but I wanted to give you guys some brief insights.

The members’ meeting was tiny. One of the people in the room counted 128 people. I’d put the number a bit higher. Maybe 150. But that’s a tiny percentage of the 5 million members the group has. Plus, a large portion of the people in attendance were board members, the family of board members, and staff.

It had to have been one of the smallest members’ meetings in the group’s history.

It may have been one of the shortest too. After a few quick speeches, a single resolution was put up for consideration. Frank Tait, who is also trying to intervene in the New York dissolution suit to remove NRA leadership, entered a resolution demanding the resignation of CEO Wayne LaPierre and other executives. A board member objected to the motion, and a vote to decide whether to debate the resolution was taken.

About ten people in attendance voted to debate. Most of the rest voted against it. So, the resolution failed without anyone on either side making their case. And, about an hour and a half after it started, the meeting ended.

The board meeting provided a little bit more interest.

While I was allowed to sit in on the members’ meeting, I was told I couldn’t sit in on the board meeting because I’m not an active member. There appears to have been some sort of miscommunication because I was allowed to sit in on the previous board meeting despite not being a member. But, either way, I waited outside while the events unfolded and heard about them shortly afterward.

The biggest bit of news is that Wayne LaPierre was re-elected. BUT it’s wasn’t unanimous this time.

In 2019, Allen West–who has since resigned his seat–told me the board was presented with a single slate of executives to vote for, and it was done by voice vote instead of recorded roll call. LaPierre was re-elected that year without any votes for anyone else in part because there were no alternatives offered.

This year, dissident board member Phil Journey nominated fellow dissident Rocky Marshall to challenge LaPierre for the Executive Vice President role.

LaPierre won easily with 44 votes, while Marshall received two votes and three board members abstained. As small as the resistance is on the board, it’s not non-existent even after a slew of resignations over the past two years. The vote was also secret. So, it’s not clear who exactly voted which way.

Also, those of you who are aware that the NRA has 76 board members may have noticed the math here doesn’t add up. That’s because 28 of the board members didn’t even show up to this meeting. That may sound remarkable, but it’s actually par for the course for the NRA at this point. They had about the same number of board members show up when the board held an emergency meeting to vote on whether or not to retroactively approve LaPierre’s bankruptcy filing on behalf of the organization.

LaPierre won that vote too.

The situation at the NRA has remained fairly stable since the big fight between former president Oliver North and LaPierre broke out into the open in 2019. There are a small number of board members who still challenge LaPierre and the rest of leadership. But a large percentage of board members, or the ones that actually show up to the board meetings anyway, are still staunchly supportive of LaPierre and the group’s current legal strategy as they face down the genuine possibility of dissolution.

Anyway, I’ll have more on the ins and outs of the meetings later this week. Stay tuned.


Podcast: Top Shot Champion Chris Cheng on Gun-Rights Activism and NFT Firearms [Member Early Access]
By Stephen Gutowski

This week, Chris Cheng of Top Shot fame joins me on the show.

After winning the title back in 2012, Chris told me his life changed forever. He used to spend most of his time doing work for leading tech companies, including Google. He still works in the tech space, but much of his time is now dedicated to the gun space–especially gun activism.

He’s worked with some of the most prominent gun-rights groups, and he’s even testified on Capitol Hill. Now he’s an advisor to the Asian Pacific American Gun Owners Association (APAGOA). His work as an Asian-American gun-rights advocate has made him the target of gun-control groups.

We talk about how the Violence Policy Center singled him out in its newest report decrying the growth in Asian-American gun ownership. We also talk about APAGOA helping train new gun owners in the Asian-American community, and it filed its first brief at the Supreme Court.

Then we talk about Chris’s foray into the intersection between NFTs and firearms. He explains what an NFT (non-fungible token) is and how it could impact the future of the gun industry. Pretty fascinating stuff.

Plus, I give an update on the latest in the David Chipman saga. And I talk to a Reload member, who just became a gun owner for the first time recently, living in New Jersey.

It’s a great episode. Give it a listen!

You can find the podcast on all major podcasting apps or by clicking here.

You can also watch the video podcast on our YouTube channel.


Gun-control supporters
Gun-control supporters at the March For Our LIves event in Washington, D.C. on March 24th. 2018 / Stephen Gutowski

Analysis: Biden’s Climb to Institute Gun Restrictions Gets Steeper [Member Exclusive]
By Stephen Gutowski

The President’s gun agenda has been having a hard time through the first year of his term, and it’s only getting worse.

The House has passed two background-check expansion bills, but they aren’t going anywhere in the Senate. His plan to ban “assault weapons,” including the AR-15, hasn’t even gotten a vote in the House. Neither has his stated top priority of repealing legal protections provided to gun makers and dealers for third parties’ criminal misuse of their products.

He couldn’t even convince the Democratic Senate caucus to vote for the ATF director nominee he was counting on to shepherd his executive-branch efforts to implement gun restrictions. And it’s now unlikely he’ll get another opportunity to confirm a director before the end of his first term. That’s especially true after the new polling we saw this week.

As Americans continue to sour on the President’s handling of guns, his political capital will sink alongside his approval numbers. His approval on the issue dropped 10 points in the Economist/YouGov poll since June. It has fallen by half since the Associated Press measured it back in May.

In an atmosphere where Biden already can’t sway moderate Democratic Senators to vote for a nominee they never publicly opposed, it’s difficult to imagine how he’ll be able to convince them to vote for gun-control policies they have come out against in the past–especially while his standing with the public continues to deteriorate. Senators Angus King (I., Maine), Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.), Jon Tester (D., Mont.), and Kyrsten Sinema (D., Ariz.) wouldn’t go along what Biden wanted when he was polling 10 points better on the issue. Why would they budge on any of the gun bills he wants to pass now?

The odds get longer when you consider how low voters rank the issue of guns on their priority list. The Economist/YouGov poll found only 3 percent of Americans listed guns as their most important issue. That puts it in a tie for the 3rd-least-important issue out of thirteen polled.

As you might imagine, voter apathy tends not to generate action in DC.

So, the President is left with executive action to implement some semblance of the restrictions he seeks. He won’t have his chosen manager to push through those actions, which will handicap him to some degree. But, that doesn’t mean he won’t be able to enact sweeping changes that affect millions of American gun owners.

In fact, his administration appears to be pushing ahead with the effort to increase the ATF’s power by significantly broadening the definition of what constitutes a firearm and the effort to ban possession of nearly all of the millions of pistol-brace-equipped AR-15s in circulation. That’s despite the hundreds of thousands of mostly negative public comments on the proposals. The aggressive executive action hasn’t helped keep his approval on the gun issue up among Democrats, and it has likely driven some of the disapproval among Republicans and Independents.

But, unilateral action is the only viable approach left for him at this point. And, it’s not clear where else he’ll be able to find room to pull it off in a meaningful way. Though, it’s safe to expect him to try and do so.


That’s it for now.

I’ll talk to you all again soon.

Thanks,
Stephen Gutowski
Founder
The Reload

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