Newsletter: The NRA’s First Meeting Since the Corruption Verdict

I’ll be getting on a plane later today and flying to the NRA Annual Meeting in Dallas, Texas. The annual meeting, which had been a relatively tame affair for decades, has produced a lot of news since allegations of corruption and self-dealing blew up the 2019 event. This year’s promises to be no different.

While the NRA has changed little to nothing in the months since a jury found it failed to safeguard its assets and its former leadership was liable for millions in inappropriate expenditures, a new crop of reformers who want to upend how things are being run was just elected. I lay out for members what to look for this weekend as current leadership and the reformers head into the last showdown before the repercussions phase of the group’s corruption trial kicks off.

This week, in a bit of a surprise move, Hawaii legalized the possession and open carry of most all weapons that aren’t firearms. A conservative think tank started a new campaign in opposition to the Biden Administration’s new gun export restrictions. Also, Contributing Writer Jake Fogleman takes a deep dive into the dynamics that sunk Colorado Democrats’ latest attempt to pass an “assault weapons” ban.

Plus, The Dispatch‘s Kevin Williamson joins the podcast to assess the state of the gun-rights movement and critique the Washington Post’s AR-15 coverage.


A logo in the NRA booth at the 2024 Great American Outdoor Show
A logo in the NRA booth at the 2024 Great American Outdoor Show / Stephen Gutowski

Little Has Changed as NRA Heads into First Meeting Since Corruption Verdict
By Stephen Gutowski

The National Rifle Association has been moving forward with business as usual since a jury found the group and its leadership responsible for corruption in February. That could change as it opens its Annual Meeting on Friday in Dallas, Texas.

The NRA has enacted few, if any, reforms or leadership changes in the wake of a New York jury deciding it failed to safeguard its charitable asserts, retaliated against whistleblowers, and its former CEO and Treasurer were liable for millions of dollars in damages. While longtime CEO Wayne LaPierre announced his resignation shortly before the trial and the jury finding against him, the NRA has continued to promote his involvement with the group by prominently featuring LaPierre in its ad for the Annual Meeting. LaPierre’s closest allies, such as interim CEO Andrew Arrulanandam and President Charles Cotton, have also retained control of the NRA’s daily operations.

A challenge to current leadership’s control is brewing, though. NRA members elected a slate of reform candidates in the group’s most recent board elections. Those reformers want to implement a series of changes, including showing current leadership the door.

The outcome of the weekend meeting could significantly impact the future of the nation’s largest gun-rights group. Continuing along the current trajectory, which has already resulted in a membership exodus and persistent legal troubles, could eventually doom the group. Reform could impact that spiral, but it remains an uphill battle given that internal critics still only make up a small percentage of the overall board of directors.

Click here to read the rest.


The lighted stage at the 2022 NRA Annual Meeting
The lighted stage at the 2022 NRA Annual Meeting / Stephen Gutowski

Analysis: Signs of Change to Look for at the NRA Annual Meeting [Member Exclusive]
By Stephen Gutowski

“I am going to be looking for private remedies, internal remedies, rather than state oversight.”

That’s what Judge Joel Cohen said during a March hearing on the second phase of the NRA’s corruption trial, according to The Trace. This weekend’s Annual Meeting may be the last opportunity for the NRA to go a different direction before Judge Cohen decides on remedies. Of course, not everyone in a position to put the NRA on a different path wants one.

So, here are some things to watch this weekend in Texas.

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


A butterfly knife
A butterfly knife / Mathieu Wallerand at Pexels

Hawaii Legalizes Ownership, Open Carry of Butterfly Knives After Fighting Them in Court
By Jake Fogleman

Hawaii has changed its tune on butterfly knives and other bladed weapons.

Governor Josh Green (D.) signed Act 021 into law on Monday. The measure amends several of the state’s weapons regulations, including a repeal of its longstanding bans on the manufacture, sale, transfer, possession, and transportation of butterfly knives, switchblades, and other non-firearm weapons. It will also allow the open-carry of those weapons–though concealed carry remains illegal.

The law took immediate effect upon the Governor’s signature.

Click here to read more.


The Global Defense gun exporter booth at SHOT Show 2024
The Global Defense gun exporter booth at SHOT Show 2024 / Stephen Gutowski

Conservative Group Organizes Pushback on Biden Gun Export Restrictions
By Stephen Gutowski

One of the biggest think tanks in Washington, DC is gearing up to oppose the Biden Administration’s plan to restrict firearm exports.

Heritage Action, the 501(c)(4) arm of the right-leaning Heritage Foundation, announced a plan on Wednesday to motivate activists to comment in opposition to the Commerce Department’s rule pairing back the ability for American companies to export guns. The group said it is hoping to “activate millions of grassroots conservatives” in an effort to have the rule withdrawn. It told The Reload it plans to start by reaching out to activists with digital communications and in person at the NRA’s Annual Meeting in Dallas, Texas this weekend.

“The Department of Commerce’s rule undermines Americans’ constitutional right to bear arms by villainizing a crucial sector of the American economy,” Ryan Walker, Heritage Action Executive Vice President, told The Reload. “Banning the sale of American-made firearms to dozens of countries is a cunning way to target lawful gun manufacturers and owners at home by claiming free citizens around the world can’t be trusted with firearms.”

Click here to continue reading.


Podcast: The State of the Gun-Rights Movement (Ft. The Dispatch’s Kevin Williamson)
By Stephen Gutowski

This week, we’re doing a guest swap.

I was on The Dispatch Live with Kevin Williamson a few days ago. So, he graciously agreed to join me on The Weekly Reload Podcast. We covered some ground on where the gun-rights movement stands today on his show, but there was a lot left to get at.

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

Contributing writer Jake Fogleman and I also discuss The Reload‘s exclusive reporting on NRA President Charles Cotton’s private jet travel on the news update. We also talk about Hunter Biden’s federal gun charges being upheld by a federal appeals court. Plus, we cover the failure of an “assault weapon” ban in Colorado, a bill going after Glock handguns in New York, and the latest in a Texas congressional primary soaked in gun politics. Audio is here. Video is here.


An AR-15 on display at Shot Show 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada
An AR-15 on display at Shot Show 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada / Stephen Gutowski

Analysis: The Dynamics Behind Colorado’s Failed ‘Assault Weapons’ Ban [Member Exclusive]
By Jake Fogleman

Legislators just failed to advance a proposed ban on the sale and transfer of so-called assault weapons in increasingly blue Colorado.

Just days before the session gaveled to a close on Wednesday, the Senate co-sponsor of House Bill 1292 asked for the bill to be set aside without even getting its first committee hearing in the chamber. One day later, the 3-2 Democratic-controlled Senate State, Military, and Veterans Affairs Committee unanimously voted to table it for good. That ended the attempt to ban sales of AR-15s, AK-47s, and numerous other popular guns affected by the proposal.

The bill’s co-sponsor publicly attributed the move to a desire for extra time to have “more conversations” with her fellow Democrats about the measure’s merits beyond the constraints of the legislative session’s final days. In reality, it’s more likely proponents simply did not have the votes to advance a ban on commonly owned semi-automatic firearms. The ban’s unceremonious defeat, in back-to-back sessions no less, is a stark reminder of the uniquely potent politics of hardware restrictions–even in blue-trending Colorado.

That potency in Colorado stems at least in part from the state’s first hardware ban push.

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!


Outside The Reload

He Was Sentenced to a Decade in Prison for Having Unlicensed Weapons | Reason | By Billy Binion

Estimating gun sales through Pittman-Robertson taxes | Open Source Defense

California gets appellate OK to share gun owners’ data with university researchers | Courthouse News Service | By Sam Ribakoff

Second (Amendment) Thoughts About En Banc Review in the Ninth Circuit | Firearms Research Center | By Donald Kilmer

Honolulu agrees to 4-month window to grant or deny gun carrying licenses after lawsuit over delays | AP News | By Jennifer Sinco Kelleher

What Colorado lawmakers did on guns this year | CPR News | By Bente Birkeland

Michigan sheriff fought new ‘red flag’ gun law. Now he’s using it | Bridge Michigan | By Jordyn Hermani

Ohio Democrat Unveils Bill to Ban ‘Mass Casualty Guns’ | Bearing Arms | By Cam Edwards


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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