A Power Struggle Within The NRA Just Boiled Over Into Public View As The Organization ‘Plummets’

NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre
Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

An increasingly-public dispute within the leadership of the National Rifle Association described recently as having undertones worthy of Game of Thrones just boiled over into public view, as The Associated Press reports. Opponents of top NRA executive Wayne LaPierre have attempted to oust him, even after he has largely been the face of the organization for years. LaPierre sent a letter to the NRA board this week claiming that the organization’s president, Lt. Col. Oliver North, was trying to push LaPierre out by threatening to release damaging information about him to the NRA’s board of directors.

Even so, several prominent and long-serving board members have expressed their commitment to stand by LaPierre in the face of the attacks.

“Wayne has the confidence of a strong majority of the board,” said Todd Rathner, a board member from Arizona who as served since the 1990s. “They trust him. They know that he’s the face of the NRA. And quite frankly I think that anybody that wants to remove him, they’re going to have to get through this board first.”

The events have unfolded as the NRA holds its 148th annual meetings in Indianapolis, and in the wake of a lawsuit that the NRA filed against Ackerman McQueen, the group’s longstanding public relations firm, who has shaped the NRA’s pro-gun messaging and rhetoric for decades. North is aligned with Ackerman McQueen, whereas the board and LaPierre have recently argued that the organization’s media operations have continued to stray from their original priorities of outdoor life and gun safety. These concerns are particularly clear when it comes to NRATV, the increasingly controversial media arm of the group which has recently veered into racially-charged territory that doesn’t align obviously with second amendment advocacy.

Although LaPierre has frequently drawn the ire of gun control advocates over the years, he has been a reliably uncontroversial figure within the second amendment community, in general, and the NRA in particular. Of the several NRA board members with whom The Associated Press spoke, each one indicated that they fully support him and have no intent to remove him from his role.

As far as North is concerned, most NRA presidents serve two one-year terms, with him currently coming to the end of his first.

No board members were willing to state on the record what they thought would happen at the end of that term.

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The controversy comes as the NRA faces decreased revenue from donations and a shifting national attitude on gun safety.

“The evidence of the NRA’s mismanagement and dysfunction is mounting by the day, and now its leaders are playing the blame game as to who’s at fault,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “The bottom line is this: As the NRA plummets, the gun safety movement just keeps growing.”