Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Efforts Uniting to Muzzle Advocates of Gun Rights


The August 2023 edition of NRA’s America’s First Freedom magazine carried several narratives on attempts to suppress the NRA's voice. Indeed, these narratives contain fragments of truth. However, they don't paint the full picture. The lawsuit brought against the NRA and four of its top executives by the New York Attorney General (NY AG) Letitia James, seen by the NRA as an extension of broader political assaults on gun rights and gun owners, revealed deep-seated organizational issues.

James' politically-charged probe unearthed alarming issues with the NRA's operations. The investigators found a far-from-perfect organization marked by greed, nepotism, favoritism, and subterfuge, contradicting the expectations of NRA's members for a transparent, well-managed organization. The NRA's careless conduct has dealt a severe blow to its rightful First Amendment claim in its lawsuit against Governor Cuomo and NY bureaucrats.

The NRA's CEO was discovered to have been living lavishly at the association's expense, engaging in luxury vacations on private jets with family and friends, spending exorbitant amounts on personal clothing, approving significant deals with preferred vendors, receiving luxurious personal gifts, going on NRA-funded trips, vacations, and safaris with his wife and friends, all while bypassing association bylaws meant to control such behaviors. His egregious actions, coupled with his multimillion-dollar annual compensation, annihilated his credibility and that of the association.

The PR firm of the NRA, for more than 30 years, had been creating a persona around Wayne LaPierre, making him the representative face of the NRA. As his wrongdoings were exposed, LaPierre retreated from public sight, refusing media appearances and interviews. This move created a leadership vacuum, with no credible figure to represent the NRA.

Potential replacements like Chris Cox, the NRA-ILA Director, former NRA President and FOX News personality Oliver North, and other well-known figures like Dana Loesch and Colion Noir, were either dismissed from their positions or entangled in scandals. The NRA ended up settling a lawsuit with its PR company, Ackerman McQueen, by paying $12 million.

This ongoing saga plays a significant role in the broader effort to silence not just the NRA, but gun owners in general. The lack of a credible spokesperson has left a gap in the national discussion about firearms. Other prominent figures in the gun rights community, such as Alan Gottlieb of the Second Amendment Foundation, Erich Pratt of Gun Owners of America, and a few others have tried to step in, but they don't command the same authority as the NRA leader.

While the NRA continues to struggle, opponents of gun rights have been working diligently to silence another influential voice in our community, economist and researcher John Lott. However, attempts to tarnish Lott's reputation have mostly been unsuccessful, though they've managed to sow seeds of doubt and have effectively marginalized him from mainstream media.

Lott has attempted to counteract this marginalization by increasing his presence on social media. His organization, the Crime Prevention Research Center, is seeking financial support to help with this endeavor. While the NRA has been losing members, other gun rights organizations have seen growth, albeit not at the rate the NRA has declined.

Our advocacy is losing traction, particularly among young people and city residents, even amidst an unprecedented rise in new gun owners. With growing campaigns to silence and cancel gun rights voices, the self-inflicted wounds of the NRA, and the escalating efforts by media and politicians to demonize us, we are losing ground. We may be gaining victories in the courts, but we're losing in the court of public opinion.

Reversing these trends is a collective responsibility. It's up to each one of us to educate those around us, to share accurate information, and to challenge false narratives wherever they appear. Supporting those who work for our cause is vital. You are the Gun Lobby, and we must all do our part to overcome these challenges.

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