Highlights from the New York Times

NRA’s Former Second-in-Command Says NRA has “Turned its Back” on Majority of Gun Owners Who Support Background Checks on all Gun Sales, “Estimates That a Third of Member Dues are now Being Consumed by Legal Fees”

According to a new report by the New York Times, Josh Powell –– NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre’s former chief of staff and the NRA’s former “second-in-command” –– will blast the NRA, Wayne LaPierre, and the organization’s lobbying of President Donald Trump after mass shootings in a new tell-all book. He also slammed the NRA for failing to support background checks and red flag laws, both of which are supported by an overwhelming majority of gun owners. 

Key details are as follows: 

  • Powell calls for background checks on all gun sales, and says the NRA has “turned its back” on gun owners who support gun safety: Powell broke with the NRA and called for background checks and red flag laws, saying that the organization has “turned its back on the majority of gun owners who support background checks.” He further criticized the NRA for “repeatedly block[ing] federal studies of gun violence,” fearing their findings. 
  • The NRA “has abandoned its roots,” is allegedly spending “a third of member dues” on “legal fees”: According to the Times, “Mr. Powell says that the N.R.A. has fundamentally lost its way, abandoning ‘its roots as an organization focused on gun safety and education.’ He further estimates in the piece “that a third of member dues are now being consumed by legal fees, and describes a culture where big spending was routine.” 
  • NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre allegedly considered quitting last year and “couldn’t run an organization on a fiscally sound basis to save his life”: Powell describes LaPierre, his former boss, as “as a woefully inept manager,” who could “couldn’t run an organization on a fiscally sound basis to save his life.” Powell further alleges that, according to the Times, the NRA’s troubles were “so pervasive” that LaPierre considered “quitting” last year.
  • The “toxic” NRA “has torn at the very fabric of America”: Powell writes that, “The N.R.A. fueled a toxic debate by appealing to the paranoia and darkest side of our members, in a way that has torn at the very fabric of America.” He adds that LaPierre raised money for the NRA by catering to “the extreme fringe.” 
  • After mass shootings, the NRA “repeatedly persuaded” President Trump to “stand down from efforts to impose gun control measures”: According to Powell’s new book, President Trump “seemed to support imposing some of the toughest new restrictions on guns in decades,” after the Parkland shooting. But, according to the Times, “the president quickly folded after a meeting with Mr. LaPierre and Chris Cox, who was then the N.R.A.’s top lobbyist.” Furthermore, “[t]here was a similar reversal by the president after mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, in the summer of 2019,” after which “LaPierre told the president ‘the membership would go wild’ if he moved forward with background check legislation.” 

The book, called “Inside the NRA: A Tell-All Account of Corruption, Greed and Paranoia within the Most Powerful Political Group in America,” is slated to be published on September 8. This Times report follows a previous one on the topic, in which Powell alleged that the NRA “has operated in the red for the past three years, despite annual revenues of roughly $350 million.” That piece further revealed Powell’s allegations that “the waste and dysfunction at the N.R.A. was staggering, costing the organization and its members hundreds of millions of dollars over the years,” and the belief among legal experts that “LaPierre’s removal [is] all but a foregone conclusion.”