The man who pushed for a resolution calling on National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre to resign at the group’s annual convention last weekend says he’ll keep demanding changes even though Mr. LaPierre has emerged victorious.
“We fired a shot. It was not meant to be a one-and-done,” Frank Tait told The Washington Times. “To me, the resolution was more about ‘let’s get this thing dealt with.'”
Mr. Tait was part of a group of members demanding a shakeup as the NRA faces mounting questions about its finances and business dealings.
They fought for changes at the NRA’s annual meetings last week, only to see the big decisions kicked to the NRA’s 76-member board of directors, which voted unanimously to keep Mr. LaPierre on the job, effectively backing him in a dispute with ousted NRA President Oliver North.
The board voted to install Carolyn D. Meadows, a longtime board member, as the new president to replace Mr. North.
Mr. Tait said he had suggested his resolution partly to start conversations about the NRA’s slipping finances and a rash of legal battles.
Rob Pincus, who also spoke up at the members meeting, said there could have been downsides to nixing Mr. LaPierre, who has been among the most vocal voices defending gun rights amid this decade’s shooting sprees, without broader changes.
“At this point, removing Wayne LaPierre would be a symbolic gesture that would be seen as potentially appeasing people in the gun community and outside, to see somebody sacrificed for the cause from either side,” said Mr. Pincus, the executive vice president of Second Amendment Organization, a nonprofit advocacy and education group.
Both Mr. Tait and Mr. Pincus said a priority for the NRA should be ending its relationship with Ackerman McQueen, the group’s longtime advertising firm.
The NRA recently sued the firm, saying it was dragging its feet on producing documents it needed to comply with its legal obligations, including a side deal with Mr. North that Mr. LaPierre said was worth “millions” per year.
“They ought to be fired,” Mr. Tait said. “But then, how do you replace all the things that they’re doing? And I think that’s part of the board’s job as well, is to look at the succession plan.”
Joshua Prince, a lawyer from Pennsylvania who also spoke up at the members’ meeting, said he would like to see an independent panel investigate some of the concerns Mr. Tait included in his resolution.
Mr. Prince said it was “extremely disconcerting” that the board reelected Mr. LaPierre in a “putative ‘unanimous vote,'” apparently while in executive session.
“While I continue to proceed with an open mind that all the allegations may be false, the continued actions by the board cause me grave concern that the allegations may be true,” Mr. Prince said in an email.
Mr. Pincus lamented that the board decided this week to impose a new requirement that candidates generally have been NRA “life members” for at least five years.
He said that move could sap energy from reformers.
“The true outsiders — either they’ve resigned their memberships in protest, or they’ve never gotten to the level of life membership because they didn’t want to support what they see as a dysfunctional and possibly corrupt system,” he said.
Mr. Tait predicted the NRA will survive the tumult because of the strength of members, and he hoped people who openly express their concerns, such as Mr. Pincus and Mr. Prince, will continue.
“It’s just going to take time and pressure to get things where they need to be, and I will say the people that I know are willing to invest the time and to put the pressure on to get things the way they need to be,” Mr. Tait said.
Mr. LaPierre, meanwhile, said he was “humbled” by the board’s vote of confidence in him.
“United we stand,” he said. “The NRA board of directors, our leadership team, and our more than 5 million members will come together as never before in support of our country’s constitutional freedoms.”
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