The National Rifle Association is in complete shambles as major members of the board are being shoved out after questioning chief Wayne LaPierre on his reported spending on his own wardrobe at a Beverly Hills boutique, his wife’s hair, and demanding the NRA fund a $6 million mansion for him to live in. Three members were driven out of the board initially, and another major celebrity member quit very publicly last week.
As the organization struggles, Politico noted other groups are riding in for a different path.
“The groups say they’re attracting new members and raking in donations,” reported Politico. “They’re hiring additional staff to work on grassroots advocacy and lobbying. One is going so far as to discuss at a conference in September how to fill the void left by the NRA, which has struggled to address internal squabbles and accusations of financial mismanagement.”
It also lends itself to a unique opportunity for a pro-gun group that doesn’t support lavish spending on a wardrobe.
“There are a lot of NRA members that don’t like the infighting, don’t like all the lawsuits, don’t like some of the spending that’s been talked about in the press,” said Second Amendment Foundation founder Alan Gottlieb. “A lot of them — they want to defend gun rights, they’re not going to stop defending gun rights, they’re just looking at other places to do it.”
“As an organization, we don’t use Gucci-loafered lobbyists in Washington, D.C. in $200,000 wardrobes to grease the palms of weak-kneed politicians to vote right,” said National Association for Gun Rights President Dudley Brown. “Instead, we activate our members to do that lobbying for us and for them. That’s the power in a grassroots lobby and NRA lost that a long time ago.”
But the infighting could also provide an opportunity for gun safety groups to make their move. After a weekend of protests, and a growing fear of domestic terrorism, a growing percentage of Americans is demanding action on background checks and an assault weapons ban. It isn’t likely to happen because Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is in control of the Senate, but it could happen more and more at the state level.
“There’s no doubt that an NRA that is somewhat distracted with internal issues is a less effective advocate,” said veteran Republican pollster Chris Wilson. “Various other groups are trying to step up, but it takes years to build the kinds of lists and member relationships that the NRA has. So no one else is going to be able to mobilize the kind of effort that the NRA normally would.”