Newsletter: End of an Era at the NRA

We saw monumental changes to the nation’s oldest and largest gun-rights group this week as its corruption trial began and its leader announced his resignation.

That’s right, Wayne LaPierre will soon no longer be at the helm of the National Rifle Association. He made that announcement on the eve of New York’s civil trial against him and other members of leadership kicked off. That turn of events was certainly shocking, but how much does it really matter? Well, as I explain for Reload Members, it means nothing and everything depending on how you look at it.

But LaPierre’s resignation wasn’t the only NRA news either. We also got new insight into why he left and whether he will be paid by the NRA after he’s gone. New audio was also published on one of the shady arrangements at the center of the corruption case against NRA leaders, which underscores exactly how the graft worked.

Outside of the NRA, there was a huge new development in California. The stay that allowed the state’s recently-declared-unconstitutional “gun-free zones” to go into effect was dissolved. That made concealed carry lawful once again, at least for people with permits.

The military’s largest small arms ammo plant was back in the news, too. This time, a group of Democratic AGs want to see President Joe Biden shut down its surplus civilian ammo sales.

Plus, Antonin Scalia Law School Professor Robert Lieder joins the podcast to discuss why it remains difficult to challenge new gun restrictions even after Bruen.


NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre speaks at the 2023 Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana
NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre speaks at the 2023 Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana / Stephen Gutowski

Wayne LaPierre Resigns From NRA
By Stephen Gutowski

The longtime leader of the National Rifle Association is leaving the organization on the eve of a corruption trial.

Wayne LaPierre, NRA executive vice president, announced he plans to resign at the end of the month. Andrew Arulanandam, who was the group’s spokesperson until last month, will succeed him.

“With pride in all that we have accomplished, I am announcing my resignation from the NRA,” LaPierre said in his resignation statement. “I’ve been a card-carrying member of this organization for most of my adult life, and I will never stop supporting the NRA and its fight to defend Second Amendment freedom. My passion for our cause burns as deeply as ever.”

Click here to read more.


Wayne LaPierre's seat sits empty at an NRA board meeting in October 2021
Wayne LaPierre’s seat sits empty at an NRA board meeting in October 2021 / Stephen Gutowski

Analysis: Wayne LaPierre’s Resignation Changes Nothing, Everything for the NRA [Member Exclusive]
By Stephen Gutowski

In a shocking move, Wayne LaPierre announced his resignation as National Rifle Association executive vice president on Friday.

His resignation doesn’t go into effect until the end of the month, by which time the New York corruption case against him and the NRA will be nearly over. And when he does step down, his closest allies will remain in control of the gun-rights group anyway. But the end of LaPierre’s decades-long tenure at the top of the NRA will inevitably transform what the group is and how it works, at least eventually.

So, LaPierre’s resignation probably won’t change much in the near term. But it’s likely to invite a seachange in the long term.

If you’re a Reload Member, click here to continue reading. If not, buy a membership today for exclusive access to this and hundreds of other pieces!


A massive poster of NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre at SHOT Show 2022
A massive poster of NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre at SHOT Show 2022 / Stephen Gutowski

NRA Claims LaPierre Won’t be on Payroll After Resignation, Has ‘Chronic Lyme Disease’
By Stephen Gutowski

Wayne LaPierre won’t receive any money from the National Rifle Association (NRA) once he steps down at the end of the month, the group’s lawyers claim in a new filing.

After LaPierre announced his resignation on the eve of the group’s corruption trial, New York Attorney General Letitia James’s (D.) office objected to the NRA using the unexpected move as part of its defense during the corruption trial that began on Monday. In a letter to Judge Joel M. Cohen, she demanded the NRA answer a series of questions about what relationship the group would have with its leader of more than 30 years once he officially left at the end of the month. The NRA’s outside lawyers, Brewer Attorneys and Counselors, responded by arguing LaPierre’s resignation undermined her case and insisted LaPierre would not receive compensation from the group after he leaves.

Click here to continue reading.


The NRA seal at the 2022 Great American Outdoor Show
The NRA seal at the 2022 Great American Outdoor Show / Stephen Gutowski

Analysis: New Audio Details How NRA Graft Worked [Member Exclusive]
By Stephen Gutowski

Allegations of corruption at the NRA were first made public nearly five years ago, but audio published this week shows exactly how leaders hid lavish expenses from the group’s membership.

On Thursday, reporter Mike Spies posted a leaked recording of a conversation between top executives at the NRA and its former media contractor Ackerman McQueen. The executives can be heard discussing how best to keep extravagant purchases from making it into public reports. They were particularly concerned with news getting out that NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre often uses private jets to get around.

“We just have to be careful because Wayne wants to get through this whole year saying he hasn’t used private aircraft,” then-NRA-treasurer Woody Phillips said. “He just doesn’t want to be seen getting off the plane — anywhere.”

So, the group concocted a plan…

If you’re a Reload Member, click here to read more. If not, buy a membership today for exclusive access to this piece and hundreds of others!


Holstered gun
A holstered handgun / Stephen Gutowski

Gun Carry Lawful Again in California as Ruling Against ‘Unconstitutional’ Restrictions Put Back into Effect
By Stephen Gutowski

Californians with a gun-carry permit can lawfully carry a gun in most areas of the state once again.

A three-judge panel on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals removed a stay applied to a lower court ruling against California’s SB2, which created a near-total ban on gun carry in the state. The action reinstates the lower court ruling that found the law violated the Second Amendment rights of those with gun-carry permits.

“The administrative stay previously entered is dissolved,” the panel wrote in May v. Bonta. “The emergency motion under Circuit Rule 27-3 for a stay pending appeal and for an interim administrative stay is denied pending further order of the court.”

Click here to read more.


A variety of ammunition on sale at a gun store in Virginia during January 2022
A variety of ammunition on sale at a gun store in Virginia during January 2022 / Stephen Gutowski

Democratic AGs Call for Crack Down on Civilian Sale of Popular AR-15 Ammunition
By Jake Fogleman

With a federal ban on AR-15s currently off the table, blue state officials have decided instead to target the supply of the ammunition commonly fired by the rifle.

A coalition of 20 Democratic attorneys general, led by New York Attorney General Letitia James (D.), sent a letter on Tuesday to the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention asking the office to investigate the commercial sale of ammunition manufactured by the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant. The letter alleged that the plant’s 5.56 NATO rounds—a cartridge most often used in civilian AR-15s—have “become the ammunition of choice for use in mass shootings” and asked the White House to prohibit the sale of military ammunition to civilians moving forward.

“Military-grade weapons and ammunition do not belong in our homes or in our communities,” James said in a statement. “Ammunition made at Lake City has been used to kill American civilians in devastating recent mass shootings, including the Tops Supermarket massacre in Buffalo. The continued sale of this ammunition on the private market puts everyone at risk.”

The letter marks the latest foray against a familiar target for gun-control advocates.

Click here to read more.


Podcast: Gun Law Professor On Why Firearms Restrictions Are Still Hard to Fight
By Stephen Gutowski

This week, we’re discussing some of the incongruities that make it so difficult for gun-rights advocates to beat new gun restrictions even after the Supreme Court’s Bruen ruling.

To do that, I got a leading Second Amendment scholar to join the show. Robert Leider, an associate professor at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia School of Law, explains why even broad gun restrictions continue to make it into law, and challenges have been less successful than many might have expected. He lays out the “asymmetry of legal liability” at the center of the dynamic.

Plus, I explain the implications of Wayne LaPierre stepping down as head of the NRA.

You can listen to the show on your favorite podcasting app or by clicking here. Vidoe of the episode is available on our YouTube channel.


Outside The Reload

The NRA Under Siege | The Atlantic | By Stephen Gutowski

New Recording Shows NRA Treasurer Plotting to Conceal Extravagant Expenses Involving Wayne LaPierre | The Trace | By Mike Spies

Despite Injunction, Challenges Remain for Californians Trying to Bear Arms | Bearing Arms | By Cam Edwards

N.R.A. Lawyer Distances Gun Group From LaPierre’s Lavish Spending | The New York Times | By Jesse McKinley and Kate Christobek

New gun law has blocked over 500 firearms from being bought by young people, attorney general says | AP News | By Lindsay Whitehurst

Virginia Democrats Unleash Torrent of Gun Control Bills | Bearing Arms | By Cam Edwards

Maryland Governor Proposes State Gun Control Office | The Washington Post | By Katie Shepherd and Jasmine Hilton


That’s it for this week in guns.

If you want to hear expert analysis of these stories and more, make sure you grab a Reload membership to get our exclusive analysis newsletter every Sunday!

I’ll see you all next week.

Thanks,
Stephen Gutowski
Founder
The Reload

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