Monday, May 20, 2019

Bag Versus Bipod For Shooting


In another of his short videos on long range shooting made for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, Ryan Cleckner discusses the advantages of shooting from a bag versus using a tripod. For Cleckner it comes down to two things - consistency and having his gear available.



Wednesday, May 15, 2019

The Resolution From The NRA Meeting Of Members


It took me a while to get a copy of the second resolution that was introduced at Meeting of Members at the NRA Annual Meeting in Indianapolis. The first resolution was to thank President Trump for withdrawing from the UN's Arms Trade Treaty and the third resolution was an off-the-wall ode to Dana Loesch by some fan girl. You may have read about some of the fireworks that were associated with this resolution which condemned Wayne LaPierre as well as the Audit, Finance, and Executive Committees of the NRA Board of Directors. The resolution was ultimately referred to the Board of Directors for discussion.

Stephen Gutowski of The Free Beacon put up a short video that captures some of the dynamic of the meeting. On one side you had the old guard such as Marion Hammer, James Porter, and others who have served on the Board of Directors for many years. The other side might be called the insurgents. You had people like gun rights attorneys Adam Kraut and Joshua Prince along with a number from Pennsylvania. You had trainer Rob Pincus who now is the Executive Director of 2A.Org. Plus many others.




Below is the full resolution that was presented by Frank Tait who graciously sent me a copy.
Resolution submitted to the Annual Meeting of the National Rifle Association, 27 April, 2019

Submitted by:

WHEREAS, the National Rifle Association exists for the benefit of its members and has a long, illustrious history as the nation's premier provider of firearms safety, training, and competition, as well as our country's oldest and most effective civil rights organization; and

WHEREAS, the various missions of the NRA are dependent upon the hard work and generosity of our members and volunteers, who donate countless hours and tens of millions of dollars to our cause each year to help defend our rights and sustain our long tradition of shooting, hunting, and defense of self, family, community, state and country; and

WHEREAS, the NRA is chartered in the state of New York and subject to the laws of that state and the authority of the governor and attorney general of that state, who have declared their desire and intention to destroy our organization; and

WHEREAS, recent revelations of questionable business and financial practices within the NRA regarding their dealings with various vendors and contractors, who have received tens of millions of dollars from the NRA without clear accountability or oversight, leading to a lawsuit against one vendor, whom the NRA paid more than $40 million in 2017; and

WHEREAS, the NRA has filed a lawsuit against one of those vendors, admitting that they have paid large sums of the members' money, without detailed contracts, proper invoicing, or any way to effectively determine what was received in exchange for that money; and

WHEREAS, very similar issues were raised over 20 years ago involving this same vendor, but were squelched and ignored; and

WHEREAS, Wayne LaPierre was the Executive Vice President of the NRA 20 years ago when these issues were originally raised, and actively opposed and blocked any investigation or corrective action at that time, and during his long tenure as EVP of NRA, has often supported and defended this vendor, their practices, and other vendors and contractors who have similarly reaped huge rewards from the NRA without demonstrating any substantial return on our investment; and

WHEREAS, these highly suspect practices and failures to properly safeguard the assets of the association and its members, have created serious vulnerabilities that can, and almost certainly will be exploited by the very hostile attorney general of New York, and could result in the dismantling of the entire organization; and

WHEREAS, the ultimate responsibility for this situation, which has been ongoing for the past 20 years, rests with the Executive Vice President of the association, Wayne LaPierre, who receives over $1.4 million from the association each year, and has been reported to have a clause in his contract obligating the NRA to continue paying him the same amount as a speaker and consultant after he leaves the NRA; therefore be it

RESOLVED, that, on this 27th day of April, 2019, the members of the National Rifle Association of America here gathered at the Annual Meeting of Members in Indianapolis, Indiana do hereby express our disappointment, frustration, and lack of confidence in Wayne LaPierre's ability to guide the association out of the dangerous mess he has created, and call for his immediate resignation; and be it further

RESOLVED, that we, the members here gathered, also have no confidence in the members of the NRA Board of Directors who serve on the Audit Committee, the Finance Committee, and the Executive Committee, who were directly tasked with oversight of the operations of the organization and its finances and failed to identify and correct these long-running discrepancies that have cost our association tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions of dollars, and put it in such a precarious position; and be it further

RESOLVED, that a copy of this resolution, along with a brief description of its reception and passage by this body, should be prominently published in the Official Journal of the association within six months of adjournment of this meeting.

It Was A Big Day For Amicus Briefs


Monday and Tuesday were big days for amicus briefs in NY State Rifle & Pistol Association et al. v. City of New York. By my count, there were 25 briefs submitted pro and con but mostly in favor of NYSRPA. Obviously, when you have 25 briefs that is a lot of reading. I haven't even begun to start.

In Favor of New York City





In Favor of Neither Petititioner





In Favor of NY State Rifle and Pistol Association





The counsels of record for the petititioners (NYSRPA) read like a who's who of Second Amendment attorneys. You have Alan Gura, Stephen Halbrook, Dave Kopel, Don Kilmer, Stephen Stamboulieh, David Jensen, Dan Schmutter, Dave Hardy, and the list goes on. If you have been following Second Amendment law for the last 10-15 years you would have come across them one way or another.


Tuesday, May 14, 2019

An Insight Into The Thinking Of William Brewer (Updated)


William Brewer III is the outside counsel for the NRA and is the lead counsel in their case against Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York State. He is also at the center of some of the controversy surrounding the NRA due to his bills.

I stumbled across this very recent article written by Brewer in Texas Lawyer. The article is entitled Advocacy as Art:  Lawyers Must Engage in Issues and Crisis Management. The article is behind a paywall but registration is free and you can read up to 3 articles per month.

His thesis in this article is that in large cases attorneys must manage both the courtroom litigation and the public relations outside the courtroom. I think you are seeing that very clearly in that he is the one who provides the response in many cases to the billing controversies, the Ack-Mac leaks, and the case against Ack-Mac itself.

From the article:
The fusion of legal and communications resources can produce more compelling, effective advocacy—enabling clients to favorably posture themselves, mitigate reputational damage and have a voice in the telling of the stories that define them.

What’s more, lawyers who manage issues and crisis management are able to help clients gain strategic advantages in their advocacy and recognize improvements in operational efficiencies, including cost-savings.

When communications professionals are deployed within law firms, the resources are more quickly and readily available. They are unencumbered by the drag of expensive “ramp up” periods often required by PR firms—which often renders the messaging “late” and diminishes its effectiveness.

There is also an inherent advantage in having law, media and politics all directed under the umbrella of the attorney-client relationship. The advocacy can be coordinated and responsive— working in alignment with a client’s legal objectives, elements of which might not be fully appreciated by a siloed PR firm.
If you read that last paragraph closely, you can see what he is trying to do for his firm with the NRA. He is seeking to be the legal counsel, the Ack-Mac PR firm, and the NRA-ILA wrapped up into one neat package. In other words, he wants to be the one-stop shop for all their needs and in turn get all the money.

Even if Brewer was the best attorney on Earth - and that is in considerable doubt - he still doesn't have the necessary infrastructure to also provide the public relations and lobbying clout that the NRA needs. You need only to look over the list of professionals at his firm to see that.

I think there is a lot of danger for the NRA in what he is attempting to do  in having "law, media, and politics all directed under the umbrella of the attorney-client relationship." While the bar canon posits that he should put his clients first, his ethical lapses in the past make one suspect that he will first do what is right for Bill Brewer. If that means sucking the coffers of the NRA dry, so be it.


UPDATE: David Codrea has a post on William Brewer along with links to Open Secrets questioning just if this is really a "pro-gun" attorney. According to Open Secrets which tracks campaign donations, Mr. Brewer gave $2,700 to the campaign of Beto aka Robert Francis O'Rourke and zip to Sen. Ted Cruz. He has also given money to such "pro-gun" luminaries as Al Franken, Hillary Clinton, Sheldon Whitehouse, and Dick Durbin.

I wouldn't care if Brewer was the real life reincarnation of Perry Mason he gave money to Beto F'ing O'Rourke. That alone should make you question his judgment.

Allen West Dissents (Updated)


Allen West is in his second term on the Board of Directors of the NRA. He is a retired Army Lt. Colonel and a former Congressman representing Florida. He also is refusing to hew to the party line that all is hunky dory in the NRA and won't be shut up. His statement released today on his The Old School Patriot website makes that abundantly clear.

I am liking Allen West more and more as the days go on. He is calling for term limits and a smaller board in addition to the departure of Wayne LaPierre. He wants the NRA to return to its roots of promoting marksmanship, encouraging the shooting sports, and protecting the Second Amendment.

His statement is below. I have taken the liberty of highlighting parts of his statement.
It has become very apparent that I need to speak out about what is happening at the National Rifle Association.

I am in my second term as a Board member, and I am deeply concerned about the actions and statements being made. The recent statements by Charles Cotton and Carolyn Meadows that are appearing in the Wall Street Journal, and now other news outlets, are outright lies. I have never been told, advised, informed or consulted about any of these details mentioned in the WSJ, and who knows how much more despicable spending of members’ money.

These statements have maliciously, recklessly and purposefully put me, and uninformed Board members, in legal jeopardy.

Prior to the NRAAM in Indianapolis I sent an email to Wayne LaPierre’s managing director, Millie Hallow, expressing my sentiment that Wayne LaPierre resign immediately.

I also drafted a memo entitled “Resolution of Concerns,” both of these statements are known to the NRA Board. It is imperative that the NRA cleans its own house. If we had done so in Indianapolis, much of this could have been rectified.

I do not support Wayne LaPierre continuing as the EVP/CEO of the NRA. The vote in Indianapolis was by acclamation, not roll call vote. There is a cabal of cronyism operating within the NRA and that exists within the Board of Directors. It must cease, and I do not care if I draw their angst. My duty and responsibility is to the Members of the National Rifle Association, and my oath, since July 31, 1982, has been to the Constitution of the United States, not to any political party, person, or cabal.

The NRA Board of 76 is too large and needs to be reduced to 30 or less. We need term limits of four (4) terms on the Board. We need to focus the NRA, the nation’s oldest civil rights organization on its original charter, mission, training and education in marksmanship, shooting sports, and the defense of the Second Amendment.

I will dedicate all my efforts to the reformation of the National Rifle Association and its members, of whom I am proud to serve.

It sickens me to publicly make this statement, but I will not allow anyone to damage my honor, integrity, character, and reputation. Needless to say, there are those who have willingly done so to their own.

Steadfast and Loyal,
Lieutenant Colonel Allen B. West (US Army, Retired)
Member, 112th US Congress
Patriot Life Benefactor, Board Member, National Rifle Association

Wayne must be fuming and his loyalist backers pissed off by Col. West's statement.

Good.

It appears to me that Col. West understands the meaning of "fiduciary duty" and the peril that the NRA faces for the lack thereof by many of those involved.

UPDATE: Stephen Gutowski just published the expected blowback to Col. West's statement from Carolyn Meadows, Charles Cotton, and Willes Lee.
In a joint statement to the Washington Free Beacon from NRA president Carolyn Meadows, first vice president Charles Cotton, and second vice president Lt. Col. Willes Lee (ret.), the three defended LaPierre and accused West of making false statements about the way the board has operated.

"It is unfortunate that certain board members have resorted to making false and misleading public statements about proceedings of the NRA board of directors," the joint statement said. "As those board members know, we are not at liberty to discuss the particulars of the board of directors meeting that occurred in executive session on April 29. However, every board member was afforded the opportunity to speak openly about any issues of concern to them. To suggest otherwise is dishonorable."
I find it interesting that the rest of their joint statement tried to make it look like Col. West was not fulfilling his fiduciary duty of care.
"Beyond that, every board member was invited to attend committee meetings where legal, financial, regulatory, and business issues are thoroughly addressed. The NRA has an office of the general counsel, and separate independent outside counsel to represent the board of directors. In sum, there is no excuse for any board member to claim they are unaware of legal and business concerns being addressed by this Association."...

"It shocks the conscience to read that certain board members have apparently not kept themselves updated, informed and active on matters that are of interest to our 5 million members," the three officials said. "They have an open invitation to get more actively involved—and to join the conversation in an appropriate way, as is provided for in our Bylaws."
That last paragraph is rich. I'm just going to leave it at that.

UPDATE II: Sebastian at Shall Not Be Questioned has the full statement from Meadows, Cotton, and Lee. You can read it here.

Government Profile Vs. Pencil Barrel


The other day, Herschel at The Captain's Journal had a blog post regarding the government profile barrel for the AR-15 and the M16A2. He made the point that the government profile barrel was adopted based upon erroneous assumptions and without proper engineering failure tests. He also said that top end AR makers continuing to put out rifles with government profile barrels was dumb.
First, I question their testing of the resistance to bending of a “government profile” barrel. They obviously never got real engineers involved in this problem. The highest bending moment in a cantilever beam will be where it is pinned, which in this case will be at the receiver. As best as I can tell, not only didn’t they solve a real problem, they didn’t even solve the pretend problem.

Second, engineering resources would have performed a failure mode and effects analysis of the problem. A failure investigation team of engineers should have been commissioned, not a military team.

Third, if you believe the problem is that Soldiers or Marines are using their rifles to pry open boxes or crates, then teach them not to do that. That’s stupid. I remain unimpressed with folks who try to mistreat, abuse and beat up their guns only to complain when they don’t work.
It was an interesting post with good comments. You should read the whole thing.

That led to me finding this video from last year by Ian and Karl from InRangeTV and their WWSD (What Would Stoner Do) series. In it, they test stress relieved pencil barrels from Faxon and then compare that to an original pencil-barreled Colt SP-1 doing the same test. Given I have one of those Faxon pencil barrels, I need to get my act together and finish my lightweight build using it!





PS: Lest you think I've gone all "what has Wayne done now" all the time, being able to have a day without significant charges of malfeasance and self-dealing is a relief. However, the day is still young.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Ack-Mac Letter Regarding LaPierre Expenses


Over and above Wayne LaPierre's spending on his wardrobe are expenses he billed to Ackerman-McQueen for travel, food, and apartment rental for an intern according to a letter they sent to him on April 22nd. These expenses have become the basis for stories in the Wall Street Journal, The Hill, and many other publications.

From the Wall Street Journal:
National Rifle Association Chief Executive Wayne LaPierre billed the group’s ad agency $39,000 for one day of shopping at a Beverly Hills clothing boutique, $18,300 for a car and driver in Europe and had the agency cover $13,800 in rent for a summer intern, according to newly revealed NRA internal documents.

The documents, posted anonymously on the internet, provide new details of the clothing, travel and other expenses totaling more than $542,000 that Ackerman McQueen Inc. alleges Mr. LaPierre billed to it.

The travel expenses allegedly include more than $200,000 in “Air Transportation” costs during a one-month period in late 2012 and early 2013, in part related to a two-week trip over Christmas to the Bahamas by Mr. LaPierre.

The additional details behind the ad agency’s claims comes as Mr. LaPierre faces internal scrutiny at the NRA over his expenses amid an extraordinary falling-out between the NRA and Ackerman McQueen.
Carolyn Meadows, the new NRA President, in a statement to the WSJ said:
The NRA released a statement from Carolyn Meadows, its new president, who said the “entire board is fully aware of these issues. We have full confidence in Wayne LaPierre.” She added that “it is troubling and pathetic that some people would resort to leaking information to advance their agendas.”
I sure hope Mrs. Meadows is using the royal we to refer to herself when she says "we have full confidence in Wayne LaPierre" because I would hope that some board members - and I know there are some who don't have full confidence in Wayne.

These photos of the letters seem to have been taken of a letter that was printed in landscape mode which explains why pages 3 and 5 only contain one line of data.

There has been much speculation about then-intern Megan Allen and why her apartment expenses were covered in part or full for three months.  I'm not going to get into these but I suggest you check out her LinkedIn page for her current position with the NRA and her work and educational background. Given the controversy, I'd do that sooner than later.  As to the apartment complex, The Ridgewood II by Windsor apartments are located in Fairfax.

Ack-Mac Letter Regarding Clothing Purchases


Suing Ackerman-McQueen might have been a smokescreen as some have said to cover the fiduciary lapses of NRA executives and board members but it seems to have become a bonfire. We are now finding out that Wayne LaPierre was quite the clothes horse. Given his preference for navy blue suits and white shirts, you have to wonder just how many he needed.

As I facetiously said on Facebook, for that amount of money, Wayne could have flown to Hong Kong, stayed in a first-class hotel, gotten measured, and come home with quite a few custom suits that looked like that they actually fit him for a heckuva lot less money. Indeed, he could have even been measured by many Hong Kong custom tailors here in the United States as his measurements changed over time.





Joint North-Childress Letter On Payments To NRA Outside Counsel


Below is the joint letter from then-NRA President Oliver North and then-First VP Richard Childress to John Fraser, NRA General Counsel, and Charles Cotton, Chair of the NRA Board's Audit Committee (and now First VP), regarding the payments to the NRA's outside counsel William Brewer III.

Another board member who shall remain unnamed told me that Brewer could become the NRA's biggest vendor - more than Ack-Mac - if things keep going this way. He also was very dismissive of his legal abilities, he had concerns about his ethical issues, even more concerns about his sway with Wayne LaPierre, and characterized him as a hustler. A friend who is an attorney in Dallas where Mr. Brewer is located said Brewer was "an asshole". I will make no judgment on his legal competency as I'm not a lawyer but would say you could get some of the best lawyers in DC like Paul Clement and the firm of Cooper and Kirk for probably less.

The nine page letter is below:


Letter And Memo Announcing NRA Crisis Committee


Below is the letter to John Fraser, NRA General Counsel, and William "Wit" Davis, NRA Board Counsel,  from Oliver North announcing the formation of a crisis committee along with the memo to be shared with the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors.


 The three page memorandum accompanying the letter is below:



Ollie North's Letter Read At NRA Meeting Of Members


By now, everyone should know that Ollie North is out as president of the National Rifle Association. I think it came down to a power struggle between Col. North and Wayne LaPierre over the direction of the NRA. Given the glaringly obvious support that LaPierre holds on the Board, North lost this struggle.

The most obvious indication of this was at the Meeting of Members on Saturday morning, April 27th, when the meeting convened and there was no Ollie. After the people on the stage were introduced, then-First VP Richard Childress addressed the meeting and read the following letter from Col. North.

If I remember correctly, LaPierre just sat in his seat on the stage and shook his head a couple of times like he was disgusted. Later, after being glowingly introduced by now-President Carolyn Meadows, he went on to give his typical stump speech which ignored all the financial improprieties and the role of the outside counsel. Since it was apparent that most of the people attending the meeting get 100% of their knowledge of LaPierre from reading his columns in the NRA magazines, he got a standing ovation.

There are a number of other letters that have been posted to the Internet in the last couple of days regarding the NRA's issues. They are now the basis for yesterday's article in the Wall Street Journal and other places and I will be posting them. They are all photos of the actual letters. I will post them with little commentary and let you make up your own mind what to make of them.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

A Great Summation Of The NRA's Problems


Lawrence Person in his Battleswarm Blog does a great job in providing a summation of the issues facing the NRA. I think it is a must read. In full disclosure he does quote me in his post but don't hold that against him!

As to getting its house in order, he writes:
There are some that claim cleaning up the NRA would offer too much succor to the gun-grabbers. But the organizational dysfunction and self-dealing is already out in the open, and is already hurting the NRA’s effectiveness (and has been for several years). If not now, when? Better to do it now, the year before an Presidential election, with Republicans holding the White House and the Senate able to block gun-grabbing initiatives, than during it.

Other than being a member, I am very far indeed from the center of NRA power. For all the grumbling over the NRA caving over bump-stocks, there’s no other organization with the size, scope and political power of the NRA to protect Second Amendment rights in America. But to do that, the NRA has to be on solid organizational and financial footing, and right now it does not appear to be on either. The NRA has to get its own house in order, this year, or expect forces hostile to it and its goals to do it for them.
Sebastian at Shall Not Be Questioned also links to this blog post. He endorses the idea of an independent outside audit team from one of the Big Four accounting firms to come in and do an audit. He is a bit skeptical that it will happen and that even if it does happen then the results will be kept internally.
But just because its sensible doesn’t mean it will happen. I’ve seen a lot of sensible things fall by the wayside in a non-profit and we don’t have to deal with paid staff who also have opinions, and have a lot more time and incentive to manipulate things to come out in their favor. I’m not holding my breath. Even if it does happen, it’ll probably be kept internal.
I hope he is wrong in his skepticism but he has always had a better feel for the inner workings in Fairfax than most anyone else not named Knox.

Democrat On Ways And Means Committee Pushing For IRS Investigation Of NRA


Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL) is a junior member of the House Ways and Means Committee. He ranks 20th in seniority among 25 Democrats in the committee majority. The House Ways and Means Committee helps to oversee the Internal Revenue Service. He is using his membership on the committee to push the IRS into investigating the NRA's 501(c)(4) non-profit status. This comes a couple of weeks after Everytown filed a complaint with the IRS regarding that status. While still a junior member of the committee, his request obviously carries more weight than that of Everytown.

Today he sent a letter to Commissioner Charles Rettig of the IRS asking him to review the NRA's non-profit status in light of the recent allegations of "self-dealing, deceptive billing, and other abuses of tax exempt status". The letter is below and a PDF can be seen here.
Dear Commissioner Rettig:

As a Member of the Ways and Means Committee, I take very seriously my role and responsibility in conducting oversight of our nation’s federal tax laws and ensuring the federal tax code is working as intended. It is with this duty in mind that I am writing to strongly encourage you to investigate recent reports of possible wrongdoing by the National Rifle Association (NRA), which enjoys status as a tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC). The allegations against the NRA reported in The New Yorker on April 17, 2019, including instances of egregious self-dealing, deceptive billing practices, and preferences in contracting are most troubling.

Our tax system is based on voluntary compliance. It is therefore essential that individuals and entities alike have full confidence they will be treated fairly, and the rules and regulations under the law will be applied equally. The American people trust the government will actively ensure all organizations are not engaging in misconduct, and specific to tax-exempt organizations, refraining from impermissible political activity. All entities and individuals who skirt the rules for personal gain should be pursued and penalized.

As you well know, Section 501 of the IRC lays out the types of organizations that qualify for tax-exempt status, as well the rules and regulations such organizations must follow. It is a basic assumption that active oversight and enforcement will improve compliance. However, in 2018, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration issued a report that found the further processing of multiple legitimate referrals alleging improper political activity by tax-exempt organizations were not pursued. This report finding raises questions about the IRS’s enforcement of our federal tax laws.

I am concerned about the potential long-term harm that diminished enforcement will have on the many nonprofit organizations that do follow the rules and take their charitable and social welfare purpose seriously. The alleged NRA operating practices also raise the question of whether current rules and procedures are adequate to guard against abuse.

In light of this information, I respectfully ask that you review whether the recent allegations against the NRA warrant reconsideration of the organization’s tax-exempt status. If you determine there is not sufficient information or resources to undertake this review, and other routine examinations of tax-exempt social welfare organizations, I ask that you provide recommendations to Congress on how we can best ensure the IRS is able to appropriately enforce our nation’s tax laws.

Non-profit organizations have always played a critical role in our society, improving the lives of millions of Americans. When trust in our tax laws is eroded, Congress and the Administration have a joint responsibility to investigate and act. The American people deserve to know that tax-exempt organizations are not abusing their preferential tax treatment and are operating according to their intended social welfare purpose, which is to benefit society.

I thank you in advance for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Bradley S. Schneider
MEMBER OF CONGRESS
Schneider references a 2018 report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration regarding referrals alleging improper political activity by tax-exempt organizations. Mind you that at 501(c)(4) is allowed to engage in some political activity. Moreover, it was the weaponized IRS during the Obama Administration that was going after Tea Party and other other conservative organizations. Remember Lois Lerner? I wonder how many of the referrals that were not pursued were related to that time period. Hmm.

Inspector General J. Russell George was testifying before the House Ways and Means Committee today and Schneider used his time to grill him regarding the NRA and its 501(c)(4) status. He pitched his argument in terms of funding cuts to the IRS and whether that would impair their ability to go after organization like the NRA if it was found to engage in illegal and improper activity. Of course as the transcript makes clear, the leading questions all dealt with the NRA.

You can see the questioning in the YouTube video below helpfully provided by Rep. Schneider's office.




I often feel sorry for any official who has to testify before Congress. The questioning is not really a give and take question and answer session so much as it is the politician rambling on in a political statement with an occasional question interspersed.

That said, the pressure on the NRA is being increased. As I said yesterday, the NRA can either get its house in order itself or it will be done for them. If I seem to be harping on getting their house in order, it is because I want to see a strong, effective NRA and not some neutered shadow of its former self.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Coffee With Craig


I was interviewed by Craig DeLuz on Coffee with Craig earlier in April regarding the lawsuit brought against Remington by certain Newtown families. It was done after the Connecticut Supreme Court found 4-3 in favor of letting the suit proceed despite the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.

Coffee with Craig is a production of the Firearms Policy Coalition.

You can view the 15 minute interview below.


Don't Shoot The Messenger, Part 2


Just like Chinese water torture, I think we are in for a series of NRA articles from The New Yorker detailing self-dealing, lavish spending, accounting irregularities, nepotism, and sweetheart deals at the National Rifle Association. The latest episode was released yesterday and is entitled, "An Internal Memo Raises New Questions About Self-Dealing At The N.R.A."

The article starts off describing a one and a half page memo from the NRA's accountants to the Audit Committee of the Board of Directors. The memo details a range of "questionable transactions and business arrangement" involving several of the NRA's top vendors and executives. This memo, unlike earlier leaks, does not go into the Ackerman McQueen issues but rather deals with other items that were found to be irregular. These include reportedly payments made to former CFO Woody Phillips' "significant other", cumulative rent of $1.8 million paid for a house to be used by Associated Television International and owned by ATI's president, and to their fund-raising contractor Membership Marketing Partners.

The memo goes on to question management overrides and approval of housing expenses for certain upper executives.
In addition, the memo drew attention to “senior management override of internal controls,” which led to violations of “accounts payable procedures” and “HR policy,” including “hiring of staff without HR knowledge.” It names four executives who, at the time, were receiving “reimbursement of expenses relating to apartments and living expenses beyond HR Policy Manual stipulations and on a permanent basis.” The N.R.A.’s accountants added that there was “no contract to support the reimbursement request,” which the four individuals continued to claim as a “relocation expense.” The executives named include Doug Hamlin, the N.R.A.’s executive director of publications; Eric Frohardt, the director of education and training; Joe DeBergalis, the executive director of general operations; and Josh Powell, LaPierre’s chief of staff.

Andrew Arulanandam, the N.R.A.’s managing director of public affairs, said that the organization “has, at times, made such accommodations for employees who travel extensively for their jobs.” He added, “The practice of providing such accommodations is approved by N.R.A. leadership and is not uncommon for an organization the size of the N.R.A.”
Powell is the person responsible for bringing in CarryGuard while Eric Frohardt is the former Navy SEAL whom Powell installed as director of education and training and director of training for CarryGuard. Frohardt still lives in Colorado where he owns a range and other businesses according to his LinkedIn page. It is my understanding from those who would know that Frohardt is flown in at the NRA's expense to work 3-7 days a month. While I have the utmost respect for Frohardt's service to the nation, 12 years as a Navy SEAL does not make one an expert in training civilians in the legal use of a firearm.

As to Josh Powell, the memo to the Audit Committee mentions his multiple conflicts of interest including the hiring of his dad to do photography for the NRA and his wife, Colleen Gallagher, was hired by a top NRA fund-raising vendor McKenna and Associates. It gets worse.
The N.R.A.’s accountants completed their memo in mid-July. Around this period, the N.R.A.’s new C.F.O., Craig Spray, had to temporarily step away from his role at the organization to deal with a health matter. Someone would need to take his place as the organization’s chief manager of financial activities. According to an internal N.R.A. communication, in July, 2018, Powell was appointed acting C.F.O. for about three weeks, placing him in charge of the accountants who documented his conflicts of interest.
I won't get into the other issues with regard to Powell other than to say his departure from the NRA would help the organization. Placing him as the senior strategist to work with outside counsel William Brewer on New York litigation is a disaster in the making.

I would be remiss if I didn't note that a lot of the research on the NRA's problems come from Bloomberg's The Trace and they did help with The New Yorker articles. I have a theory as to how they are gathering this information. I think Michael Bloomberg and his associates have hired a corps of private investigators whose job it is to find former NRA employees who have left because they were disgusted with the self-dealing and other financial issues. I can't think of any other way that they could be gathering this inside information unless it was being funneled to them by Ack-Mac.

One way or another the NRA will get its house in order. It can be done either by the Board of Directors or it will be done for them by the State of New York, the Internal Revenue Service, and other outside agencies. Far better that the changes come from within than from without. It can be controlled and managed to make the organization stronger, bigger, and more diverse.

My fear is that new officers of the NRA - Carolyn Meadows, Charles Cotton, and Willes Lee - and much of the Board are such stalwart Wayne LaPierre supporters that they will go along with the status quo (ante bellum) to the NRA's detriment. Ignoring it is not going to make it go away and will only make matters worse. That, however, is the most probable outcome as things stand now.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Sorry, Spartacus, But I Don't Need A License For An Enumerated Right


Sen. Cory "Spartacus" Booker (D-NJ), erstwhile presidential candidate, unveiled a proposal today that would warm the hearts of authoritarians like the late Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro. Booker's proposal would require a license to purchase a firearm. The license would only be good for five years, would require fingerprints, would require an in-person interview with the licensing authority, and would require a class in "gun safety" before issue.

As the New York Times reports, the gun control industry has glowing reviews of Booker's proposal.
“Senator Booker’s plan is bold and thoughtful,” said Peter Ambler, the executive director of Giffords, the gun violence prevention organization led by former Representative Gabrielle Giffords. He added that it was a “positive sign” that presidential candidates were “coming to the table with serious policy proposals to make our country safer.”...

John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety, an advocacy organization that seeks to end gun violence, said he had seen a “seismic shift” from past campaigns, when the issue of gun violence was considered the “third rail” of American politics.

“Today what we’re seeing is people coming out muscularly for gun safety,” Mr. Feinblatt said. “We’re early on in the 2020 cycle, and I think you’re going to see more and more of this.”
 The gun owner licensing proposal is only one part of his 14-part gun control platform. The platform includes things like microstamping, an IRS investigation of the NRA, and the rest of the usual claptrap. The full platform is not on his campaign website but can be found here.

Given that Spartacus is polling at only 2% - down from 5% in late 2018 - it is no wonder that he is grasping at straws to improve his position. With gun control being the one thing that it seems the Democrats running for President agree on, it looks to me like a desperate plea for attention. That it is of dubious constitutionality seems not to bother the Rhodes Scholar and Yale Law graduate.

Gun Control With My Music? No Thanks


I'm on the mailing list of the gun control organizations. I get the emails from Everytown and Brady and Giffords and the list goes on. I do it so I can read what they are up to in their own words. I'd encourage you to do so as well. It is important to know what the enemies of freedom are doing in advance rather than finding out after they've just passed another gun control law.

Anyway, in the Weekly Update from the Brady Campaign was this tidbit:
Brady Will be at Bonnaroo this June!

For the second year in a row, Brady is among a small group of nonprofits selected to partner with the annual Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, taking place June 13-16 in Tennessee. We’re excited to introduce the 50,000 concert-goers to Brady and the fight to end gun violence. Our Team ENOUGH leaders will serve on a panel discussion about gun violence prevention, we’ll host an activist-oriented DJ set, and we’ll run a booth throughout the festival. If you’re at Roo, be sure to say hi!
Most people my age don't have a clue what Bonnaroo is but impressionable Millennials do. Bonnaroo is a four-day music festival held in Manchester, Tennessee which attracts upwards of 100,000 festival goers for music, art, camping, and "changing the world." Think Woodstock without the mud and with a dose of social justice.

I've looked over the list of bands and my age shows. With few exceptions, I don't have a clue about the performers. Yes, I've heard of John Prine, Phish, and Cardi B but I couldn't tell you a thing about Space Jesus or Trampled By Turtles.

Tickets are not cheap. The prices range from $279 to over $3,000. In other words, you are getting festival goers with deep pockets. It is no wonder that the Brady Campaign wants to be there.

The Brady Campaign knows they are in a culture war and the best way to attract more followers, informed or otherwise, is to go to these festivals. It is their equivalent to the NRA or Grass Roots North Carolina recruiting at gun shows. The problem for us in the gun culture is that there are a lot more people going to Bonnaroo than will be attending my local gun show and they are younger and much more impressionable.

Friday, May 3, 2019

It's Not Just Legislatures That Are Targeted


We've long said that if you want to make sure you get pro-gun politicians elected to Congress and the various state houses, we have to start pushing candidates at the local level. It is the rare candidate that starts out running for office at the state or national level. For every Donald Trump, there are thousands and thousands of other politicians that started with the school board, town council, or even just a town or county appointed committee.

Everytown has just made endorsements for three candidates at the school board or city council level. The fact that they are pushing gun prohibitionists at this level says a number of things. First, they are actually using Bloomberg's money to start building an actual grassroots. Second, they recognize that candidates start local and then move up from there. Third, it is an expansion of their efforts from the state level to the local level since they have no had success (so far) at the nation level. Finally, getting anti-gun politicians elected to school boards will help in their efforts to make schools less safe (gun free zones) and to encourage hoplophobia in the curriculum.

From their press release:

NEW YORK – Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund today endorsed three Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America volunteers, two of whom are also survivors of gun violence. The endorsements include Rhonda Hart, a survivor of gun violence and a volunteer with the Texas chapter of Moms Demand Action; DeAndra Yates-Dycus, a survivor of gun violence and a volunteer with the Indiana chapter of Moms Demand Action; and Christine McGrath, a volunteer with the New Jersey chapter of Moms Demand Action.

“As leaders in the gun safety movement, these candidates have proven that they will never stop fighting to protect their neighbors,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “Everytown is proud to endorse Rhonda Hart and DeAndra Yates-Dycus — gun violence survivors who are turning their pain into action — and Christine McGrath, a Moms Demand Action volunteer leader who is working hard to keep her community safe.”

“These volunteers and survivors, some of whom have experienced firsthand the toll of our nation’s gun violence crisis, are running for elected office to enact change in their communities,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “Our volunteers have the courage and fortitude to do whatever it takes to make their communities safer, including moving from shaping policy as volunteers to actually making it as lawmakers.”

More on the volunteers and survivors endorsed today and their elections:

*Rhonda Hart, Dickinson, Texas School Board
Hart’s 14-year-old daughter, Kimberly Vaughan, was killed in the shooting at Santa Fe High school almost a year ago. Before the shooting, Hart was a school bus driver in Santa Fe, Texas. Hart is a volunteer leader with the Texas chapter of Moms Demand Action and an Everytown Survivor Fellow. Her general election for Dickinson School Board in Texas is on May 4.

*DeAndra Yates-Dycus, Indianapolis City-Council District 13
Yates-Dycus’ 13-year-old son, Dre, was wounded by a stray bullet in Indianapolis on February 1, 2014. Yates-Dycus is a volunteer leader with the Indiana chapter of Moms Demand Action and an Everytown Survivor Fellow. Her primary election for Indianapolis City-Council District 13 is on May 7.

*Christine McGrath, Verona, New Jersey Town Council
McGrath has been a volunteer leader with the New Jersey chapter of Moms Demand Action in Essex County for the past two years. She’s running for Verona Town Council and her general election is on May 14.

UPDATE:  The endorsement of Rhonda Hart by Everytown doesn't seem to have impressed the voters in Dickinson. According to unofficial results, she lost to Corey Magliolo who received 67% of the vote to her 33%.

The endorsement from New York City based Everytown reminds me of this.


Taurus Job Fair Next Week


Many of you know by now that Taurus is moving their US operations from metro Miami, Florida to Bainbridge, Georgia. They are in the process of building a new plant there in southwest Georgia and plan to be ready to go in December.

Taurus will be holding a job fair in Bainbridge next week on the 7th and 8th of May. While a number of employees will be relocating from south Florida, a number will not. The announcement below gives an indication of who isn't making the move for whatever reason. Bainbridge, by the way, is less than an hour north of Tallahassee, Florida.

Here is there job fair announcement courtesy of the Outdoor Wire:


Job Fair May 7 – 8 located Charles H. Kirbo Regional Center
May 2019 (Miami, FL) – Taurus®, manufacturer of quality handguns for personal defense, hunting, and recreational shooting, is participating in the Charles H. Kirbo Regional Center job fair and will be looking to fill numerous positions for its new Bainbridge, Georgia, headquarters and manufacturing facility.
Operations for the new Taurus facility in Bainbridge will commence in 2019, providing exceptional career opportunities in several occupational areas, such as skilled labor, administrative, accounting, customer service, engineering, manufacturing, and management. In addition to becoming part of a forward-thinking community with a mission of building feature-driven and affordable firearms, Taurus offers a competitive pay structure with health and retirement benefits for its employees.
Join us at the Charles H. Kirbo Regional Center, Southern Regional Technical College – Bainbridge Campus located at 2500 E. Shotwell Street, Bainbridge Georgia on Tuesday, May 7th and Wednesday, May 8th from 10:00am until 7:00pm.
Following are the current job openings for which Taurus seeks to recruit successful applicants:
  • Product Design Engineers
  • Sales Analyst
  • Controller
  • Accounting Manager
  • Staff Accountant
  • Inventory Accountant
  • Accounts Receivables Clerk
  • Accounts Payables Clerk
  • Accounting Clerk
  • Administrative Support Staff
  • Network Administration Manager
  • Help Desk Engineer
  • Quality Control Inspectors
  • Quality Control Analyst
  • Document Control Specialist
  • Inventory Control Clerks
  • Materials Manager
  • Production Planners
  • MRO Buyer/Tool Room Planner
  • Manufacturing Engineers
  • Process Technicians
  • Tool Maintenance Technician
  • Shipping and Receiving Supervisor
  • Shipping and Receiving Clerks
  • Firearm Gunsmiths
  • Firearm Inspectors
  • Manufacturing Helpers
  • Production Helpers
  • Assemblers
  • Janitors
All job candidates must be US Persons (Citizens or Permanent Residents) and be able to successfully pass a background and drug test screening.
Interested candidates should also submit their resume directly at resume@taurusholdings.net.
To learn more about Taurus firearms, click here.

Asheville Gun Show Needs Volunteers


Grass Roots North Carolina issued this alert on Wednesday and I'm late putting it up. If you live in Western North Carolina or will be visiting the weekend of May 11th and 12th, you should come to the Asheville Gun Show. If you could donate a couple hours of your time to help work the GRNC booth, I know a guy who get you into the show for free.

Go to a decent gun show, help out gun rights, save some money on admission. It works.



ASHEVILLE GUN SHOW
NEEDS VOLUNTEERS


Volunteers are needed to help man the GRNC table at the upcoming Asheville Gun & Knife Show, in Asheville, on May 11 and 12, 2019. The show will be held at WNC Agricultural Center, located at 1301 Fanning Bridge Road, Fletcher, NC, 28732.

Help defend Second Amendment freedom and join GRNC in expanding North Carolina gun rights!

Potential Volunteers should contact John Richardson at 828-768-3520 or by email at jpr9954@gmail.com.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

We Don't Know Much But We Are Going To Call For More Gun Control


I got an email today from North Carolinians Against Gun Violence (sic), a wholly owned subsidiary of Everytown, regarding the murders on the campus of UNC-Charlotte yesterday. The email epitomizes their "call to action" strategy even when we know next to nothing about the murderer, the victims, etc.
Yesterday, two people lost their lives and four were injured by a mass shooter at UNC Charlotte. North Carolinians Against Gun Violence mourns with their families, friends, and communities.

“Every shooting is a human tragedy and my prayers are with the victims and their families,” said Becky Ceartas, Executive Director of North Carolinians Against Gun Violence. “Today’s awful events are yet another urgent call to action to prevent this from happening again.”

While this story is still developing and we do not have much information about the shooter, including how he got his gun, we do know that certain gun reforms need to happen in our state. Specifically, we need to keep our college campuses and K-12 schools free of guns, retain our background check system on all handgun sales (pistol purchase permitting system), and preserve our concealed-carry weapons permitting system.

“We ask North Carolinians to join us in mourning those lost in this horrific act. And we ask North Carolinians to act with us to help prevent this from happening again,” said Ceartas.
For those that are not North Carolinians you might not know that university campuses are officially gun-free zones. North Carolina General Statute § 14-269.2. deals with this and makes it a Class I felony to carry openly or concealed any firearm on campus. Firing the gun is a Class F felony.

I have written extensively about the racist roots of the North Carolina's pistol purchase permit system. It was instituted in 1919 as a means to keep African-Americans and especially those that were veterans returning from World War I disarmed. I can think of few other laws that were conceived in racism that still command the devotion and loyalty of progressives as do gun control laws.

About the only things about this heinous crime is the shooter's name, his age (22), that he was a former UNC-C student, his victim's names and ages, and that he was taken alive. We don't know how the murderer obtained his firearm, his motive, or virtually anything else other than a statement from his grandfather that said he'd never shown any interest in firearms before and one from campus police saying he wasn't on their radar.

So you have two murders (illegal), four attempted murders (illegal), and a total disregard for state law on carrying on campus (illegal) but yet we need to act so as to "prevent this from happening again." Other than legalizing campus carry which is anathema to NCGV, I don't see how any new law is going to prevent such crimes. Can you?

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

NRA Attendance And Voting Statistics


The official attendance at the NRA Annual Meeting in Indianapolis was approximately 81,000. This is about 6,000 less than last year's meeting in Dallas. I will say I had no trouble getting about on the floor nor in the hallways of the Indiana Convention Center.

Now to more important statistics.

At the Meeting of Members on Saturday, William Satterfield, chairman of the Elections Committee announced the statistics for the 2019 NRA Board of Directors election.

2,452,893 ballots were bound in the official magazines of the NRA 
145,920 ballots received back 
141,101 ballot were valid 
4,819 were invalid
Ballots that were deemed invalid for a variety of reasons. Among the reasons enumerated by Mr. Satterfield were arrival after the April 7th cutoff date, more than 25 candidates marked, no candidates marked, and some were actually prior year ballots. I think he said there was even one ballot from 2009.

When you do the math, you are left with the conclusion that most members eligible to vote - Life members and 5-year continuous members - don't give a big rat's ass who serves on the Board. The response rate for just returning the ballot was 5.94% and the response rate for a valid ballot was 5.75%.

That is pathetic. Moreover, it is scary. Think what could happen to gun rights if Michael Bloomberg just spent a few million bucks on advertising to run a slate of stealth (or Manchurian) candidates. With the proper slate and modern ad targeting, it would be possible to take over the organization in as little as two years. Whether it could be kept secret for that long is another matter.

Picture Of The Day


Today marks the 44th anniversary of the Fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975. The poignant picture below shows the evacuation of Americans and South Vietnamese staff from the roof top of the US Embassy in Saigon.


HUGH VAN ES/UPI/NEWSCOM


Newsweek had this on the scale of the airlift:
It was the biggest helicopter lift of its kind in history—an 18-hour operation that carried 1,373 Americans and 5,595 Vietnamese to safety. Yet in sheer numbers, the feat was overshadowed by the incredible impromptu flight of perhaps another 65,000 South Vietnamese. In fishing boats and barges, homemade rafts and sampans, they sailed by the thousands out to sea, hoping to make it to the 40 U.S. warships beckoning on the horizon. Many were taken aboard the American vessels, while others joined a convoy of 27 South Vietnamese Navy ships that limped slowly—without adequate food or water—toward an uncertain welcome in the Philippine Islands. Hundreds of South Vietnamese also fled by military plane and helicopter, landing at airfields in Thailand or ditching their craft alongside American ships.
My father who was drafted into the US Army in December 1940 for "the Hawaiian Department" was to serve two tours of duty in South Vietnam. His first tour was in Cam Rahn Bay from October 1967 until October 1968 and then again from April 1970 until the end of March 1971 in Lai Khe an Bao Loc. He was thus in Vietnam for two of the more momentous events of the war - the Tet Offensive and the Cambodian Invasion.

A Tale Of Two Letters - Part 2


The second open letter addressed to the member of the NRA and to Board of Directors comes from Steve Hoback. Like Andy Lander, Mr. Hoback also worked in the Training and Education Division.

Here is his letter:
April 29, 2019

An Open letter to the NRA MEMBERSHIP and their elected SERVANTS, the NRA Board of Directors.

I hope these words don't fall on deaf ears, as I am just another Bozo on the bus, a small fish in a big - and currently fetid pond: a mere NRA Member. I have, however, an insight on the current situation at the NRA that has developed from both my time as a PROUD NRA staff member, shunned heretic after my departure, and current disgusted yet DEVOTED Member.

I was blessed to have served as the Training Department's Senior Training Program Coordinator, a position that I was incredibly humbled to be created to bring me on board. I served as part of a Team that was passionate, relentless, vigilant, and tireless in our continuing improvement and protection of the training programs, which are the HEART of the NRA's mission statement. We had a Director who had our backs, a Manager who bled the NRA, and a Team that wasn't afraid - even supported in - telling the Emperor when he was naked. I was naive at the time about Ackerman-McQueen. I heard "Ack-Mac" mentioned occasionally with a shrug, but that was it.

What I did notice and was uncomfortable with was the cult of personality that some of the Executive Staff had. The Director of General Operations, a stuffed shirt, self-interested bully in my eyes (whose, I must admit, basically being told to shut up and sit down at the 2019 Meeting of Members seemed like karma at its best), and the Executive Director both always seemed to be placed FAR above their roles and NOT at the helm of a not for profit Association. In fact, the ONLY member of the Executive Staff at the time, Secretary Major James Land, was the MOST deserving of admiration: he worked FOR the Association, not the Association working for him.

I began to sense something was rotten in Denmark shortly after I was tasked with creating the Instructor Sales Program, a program through which Trainers would have access to reduced pricing on items which they could use in their training courses: a "win-win-win" for students and trainers, manufacturers, and the Training Programs. The "win" for the programs was that all of the revenue generated to the NRA had to go into the Education and Training Endowment to help the Training Programs be remain self-perpetuating. My guidelines were pretty clear: quality products, ZERO exclusivity, and no "buy in" on the part of manufacturers. The "contracts" were basically handshake agreements, reviewed by General Counsel, which were welcomed by manufacturers as a pleasant change from the Office of Advancement's hard- sell licensing agreements, which I have NO doubt were blueprinted by Ack-Mac. The program was a moderate success.

However, shortly after, i approached a major optics manufacturer who was more than happy to become involved. Details were worked out, General Counsel approved of the details, but just before launching, I was pulled into the Office of the GO Director and told to stand down temporarily because another optics manufacturer who had NOT responded to my offer to be included, "may not be comfortable with their competition being in the program". This was my first hint that "perks" to senior staff could be driving decisions, later substantiated when a senior staff member went on to a position for the protected manufacturer.

Closer to home for me was the idea of web based training. The Training Department staff had been tasked with vigilantly ensuring that NRA credentials were in no way associated with online training. This determination was made based on three of the keystones could not exist in a web-based course: TPI, Total Participant Involvement; evaluation of the Knowledge, Skills, and ATTITUDE of the student by the trainer; and - most importantly- safety, as the students' safe gun handling could NOT be observed and unsafe acts not be identified, remediated, and corrected, or - failing that course of action - the student being identified as not passing because of Attitude.

Just prior to my leaving Staff, there began to be inklings of the development of web based NRA Basic Firearms Courses, specifically, the Basics of Pistol Marksmanship Course. My peers were adamantly against this, and we were amazed that it was even being considered. After I left, the whole debacle of "blended learning" went ahead full steam, without the consideration of the input from trainers in the trenches being asked for input. This was, in NO doubt, a result of the ever growing Ackerman-McQueen power within the NRA. We all know the farce that the launching of Blended Learning was, and the offshoot of this rape of the integrity of the Programs was the introduction of Carry Guard, an Ack-Mac inspired program that, it must be noted, is the HEART of the New York lawsuit that the "Old Guard" on the Board who voiced the need for secrecy at the Meeting of Members referenced.

This blatant ramrodding of a non-NRA developed course also resulted in the appointment of a new Education and Training Director who was, unbelievable, a major player in the CarryGuard program and who, for all intents and purposes, was given the equivalent of a "no show union job" that organized crime would be proud of.

I have left many names out. A little research can fill in blanks.

Again, I am PROUD to be a MEMBER of the National Rifle Association of America. I am PROUD to have worked with Bill Poole, the late Charles Mitchell, Andy Lander, Mark Richardson, Sean Thornton, Samantha Olsen, and the many other, under payed, overworked, and dedicated staff members in the trenches during my time there. I am saddened and - at times - angered by the few who have apparently turned to "the dark side" and sold out in the name of job security or - often worse, personal gain or power, after preaching "you gotta be here for the passion not the paycheck".

In closing, MY Association is at a crossroads. It has become the swamp that many have lashed out against in our Federal government. The "not for profit" status of the Association, if kept to its charter, bylaws, and mission statement is NOT in jeopardy. The FOR PERSONAL PROFIT actions of the "Old Guard" Board Members, certain of the Executive Staff and Directors and Deputy Directors, and Ackerman-McQueen influence have not only endangered the not for profit status but the INTEGRITY of the Association. In addition, the heedless, unbridled hero worship of many Members and their antipathy toward holding the Old Guard accountable has helped to create the monster that is destroying rhe Association from within. This PROUD member of the "unwashed masses" that the Old Guard looks down on and feels deserve secrecy from the inner workings has had enough and will no longer tolerate the foxes keeping watch over the hen house.

Respectfully,

Steve Hoback
NRA Life Member
NRA Training Counselor
Former NRA Training Department Staff Member

I asked Mr. Hoback if the GO (General Operations) Director was Josh Powell and he confirmed it.

It is obvious that both Lander and Hoback want the NRA to be reformed and both want the influence of Ack-Mac removed. I agree with both of them.

A Tale Of Two Letters - Part 1


There were two open letters published on Facebook within the last couple of days addressed to the NRA Board of Directors. They both come from former NRA employees who were employed in the Training and Education Division. You have often heard the refrain that the NRA is the largest gun safety organization in the world due to the number of people it trains. Well, these guys were part of the reason.

These are long letters so I will publish them in two posts. The first is from Andy Lander who ended his career with the NRA as the Training Counselor Program Coordinator. Training Counselors, for those that don't know, are the folks who train the trainers. In other words, they are the instructor's instructors.


April 29, 2019

An Open letter to the NRA Board of Directors.

First off, I would like to congratulate all the newly elected NRA board members, I’m sure your reason for running for the NRA Board of Directors (BOD) was driven by patriotism, pride ,and selfless service to millions of law abiding gun owners. This letter is not for you. I would like to say a sincerer thank you for your willingness to sacrifice your own personal health and sanity to try and guide the NRA through its most turbulent times. As for the incumbents who are on the NRA Board this letter is for you. I’m sorry to say that I’ve lost all faith in you as leaders. I’m also unsure if any of you actually understand what leadership is. Many of you have been on the board for many years and even decades, and continue to remain an elected member of the NRA BOD, in what appears to those of us who have worked at the NRA as nothing more than a shill or yes man/woman. I’m not just speaking to those on the Finance Committee, or Nomination Committees, I’m speaking to all incumbents including those working on committees that have nothing to do politically and operate only in the realm of the programs side of the Association. I request that you remove highly overpaid executives particularly NRA’s Executive Vice President Mr. Wayne Lapierre, Josh Powell, along with cutting all business ties to Ackerman and McQueen (Ack Mack) and anyone that has ever worked with Ack Mack. For some of you, it appears that you are nothing more than a paid vote to ensure the longevity of Mr. Lapierre or elected to ensure that Ack Mack can leech off the NRA thus receiving compensation from Ack Mack itself. I can only draw one of the two following conclusions, the first one is that you’re incompetent in your duties as an NRA Board member, or two you’re part of the actual problem.

I worked at the Association for over 13 years ending my time as the Training Counselor Program Coordinator. My job was to coordinate and conduct the NRA Training Counselor Workshops, or the folks who trained NRA Certified instructors. When I started in the training department in 2005 there where 42,000 NRA instructors, when I left the NRA there were over 120,000 instructors. My entire time at the NRA I worked 2-4 job at any given time to pay the bills. There are quite a few employees that still do this at the NRA to make ends meet.

That being said, I can think of no other non-profit organization that compensates their Executive Vice President the kind of salary and benefits that Mr. Lapierre gets relative to how much employees receive. I also cannot understand how a person like Mr. Lapierre treats the people that work for him like his own personal indentured servants, unless you know the secret handshake, then you’re compensated very handsomely as long as you follow along blindly providing no resistance to the people running the organization. Those BOD’s that OBEY, are rewarded with NRATV contracts provided by Ackerman and McQueen, or are paid handsomely for speaking arrangements. The things that are taking place within the organization, I feel are things that corrupt Congressmen would be doing not the leaders of oldest civil rights organization in the country. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but it is to my understanding that the BOD knew a year in advance of how NRA Employees retirements were going to be frozen and run the risk of not existing at all. Yet before employees received the letter notifying them of the possibility of having little to no retirement. Mr. Lapierre and a few other executives cashed out their retirements so they wouldn’t loose any money. I’m not an attorney but this appears very fishy and has the appearance of what in the business world is referred to as insider trading. This is not just a moral violation but one would wonder if it would follow into the realm of possible criminal behavior? When I started at NRA, I was still eligible to be in the NRA retirement program, I was hired in 2004 as a membership specialist at starting salary of $28,000 a year working in one the richest counties in America. The retirement was stopped, (IIRC by the BOD) in 2007 for all new employees. The letter shows exponential drops in percentages as well as 13.3 million dollar funding short fall for 2018, a 4.5 million dollar funding short fall for 2017, and $0.00 shortfall for 2016 for non NRA executives retirement funds. This letter was dated April 15, 2019 and was from Ms. Shawn Soto from NRA Human Resources.

It is interesting to note that all the short falls started around the time in which Josh Powell took over as the Executive Director of NRA General Operations. The individual or individuals that came up with the idea to put Josh Powell, a man who has had shady dealings, lawsuits, and what appears to have led multiple failed businesses, in charge of the most important organization pertaining to individual rights in this country is either pure BOD’s incompetence or are possibly somehow involved in these dealings themselves. If you’re a board member who helped to put Mr. Powell in charge, you’re part of the problem. If you’re a board member who knew about this and did nothing to stop it you’re part of the problem. If you’re a board member and knew nothing about Mr. Powell’s shady dealings until the articles started to come out you’re part of the problem. If you’re a board member and you’re being paid by Ackerman and McQueen than you’re part of the problem. If you’re not actively seeking the removal of Mr. Lapierre you are the problem.

I have heard numerous excuses for Mr. Lapierre from board members, including speeches at the recent NRA members meeting on how Mr. Lapierre has taken the Association through the tough times and should trust him since he has been at the helm for the last 40 years. If I speed through a neighborhood for 10 years only to get pulled over with the excuse of “I’ve been doing this all along therefore you should let me continue to do so Officer” my excuse is a poor one at best. Mr. Lapierre and his colleagues have demonstrated what appears to be a great deal of impropriety as it pertains to running what is supposed to be the brightest beacon of freedom we have left in this country. The leaders of NRA should not be lining their own pockets, creating never-ending retirements for themselves, and conducting shady under the table dealings with ad agencies that their family members work at or have financial dealings. A perfect example of this is allowing Mr. Josh Powell to pay his father what is suggested of being in the 10’s of thousands of dollars to photograph the 2017 NRA World Shooting Championship for one single day. This is highly unusual and I don’t understand why he would have needed to hire any outside photographer, especially since NRA publications had already sent their own photographers to that event.

Despite the fact that current employees continue to be underpaid, fired, used as scape goats such as in the recent termination of Mark Richardson ( a loyal employee of 10 plus years and former army veteran) in some cases are ordered to travel, only to find their NRA credit card has been canceled and have to use their own credit cards to finance their business expenditures is direct result of Mr. Lapierre’s lack of leadership. This means they must put their personal bills on hold because of NRA’s financial shortcomings. I had this happen to me personally a few times during my time at NRA. In the mean time NRA executives continue to accumulate astronomical compensations not seen in any other non profit 501(c3).

Then there is the case of the Director of NRA Competitive Shooting Division Cole Mcculough who I believe is currently involved in litigation to shut down a neighboring shooting range to his family owned personal for profit shooting range. The name of the range is Shadow Hawk located in West Virginia. Shadow Hawk is privately owned and operated shooting range which is highly respected and loved by the local competitive shooters in the area. Another riddle I have yet to answer is, how does the NRA Competitions Director get paid a handsome salary, and draw a large profit estimated in the in the 100’s of thousands of dollars from the NRA’s World Shooting Championship? The Director of Competitions is the same individual that decides where the World Shooting Championship is held every year. Let’s not forget how Cole forgot to report the winnings from the World Shooting championship in 2016/17, only to have NRA Human resources take 2016 taxes out of 2017 pay checks two days after Christmas. I was on vacation at the time and received a pay check of less around $300 dollars. Another employee didn’t even receive a paycheck. I also believe what the NRA did was actually a violation of IRS tax code. Then there is the issue of possible cronyism going on in the Competitive Shooting Division, yet I digress. This made me ask the question to myself, why is a current NRA Staff member trying to actively shut down a shooting range?

I always thought the NRA stood as a barrier fighting the good fight. I remember a long conversation with my late friend Pat Rogers (editor from SWAT magazine) who supported the NRA, but said, “I don’t always agree with what the NRA, then again I didn’t always agree with what my mother said, but she was right most of the time”. I felt the same way until the motive of the NRA shifted from fighting for freedom, to fighting for money. I personally sat in on meetings in which the discussion was to put USCCA out of business because they were taking what should be ours. I’ll be honest I was a little to shocked to hear the NRA was in the business of trying to put pro gun companies out of business?

I could go on and on, but to be honest I have better things to do. Service as an employee to the NRA is behind me now. I personally have moved on to other things, yet still maintain deep friendships with people at NRA HQ. I hear their pain, I can see their suffering, and at what expense? So Wayne Lapierre, Josh Powell, and friends can make another million? The only people that can stop this is you! The NRA’s survival is at stake, the soul of the organization, the NRA employees that sacrifices a good paying job, gets treated like dirt by folks at Ack Mack, and are forced to loose the most important thing to anyone, time away from their families, will one day come into work and find out they are working for free. The history of the NRA is being written as we speak, I wonder will that history be a relatively short one, causing a collapse in the ability to protect the Constitution particularly the second Amendment. Thus writing your name in the history books as the last BOD’s of the National Rifle Association? Or will you do the right thing and ensure the NRA remains strong for decades to come. I pray that in the future my follow up letter to this will be thanking you for doing the right thing, rather than writing to all you, see I told you so.

Andrew Lander
NRA Life Member
NRA Senior Training Counselor
NRA Staff alumni 2004-2018

Please forgive all the misspellings and typos.

There will come a time in every bodies life to choose between what is right, and what is easy.

The Josh Powell mentioned in this letter is the Chief of Staff to Wayne LaPierre and served for a time as Executive Director of General Operations. His business background was spotty and he was described to me by a board member as "an idiot" who needs to go. According to the last report filed with the State of New York Charities Bureau, he earned over $700,000 as of the end of 2017.