Media Makes Most of Manhattan Verdict Against LaPierre, NRA


Former NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre has been ordered to pay back more than $4 million to the organization. (Dave Workman)

As news broke across the landscape that a six-person Manhattan jury had found against the National Rifle Association in a lawsuit filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James, one story in the New Yorker may have best explained why the establishment media has had such disdain for the organization.

Former NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre was ordered to repay more than $4.3 million back to the association, noted CNN.

The jury verdict, Fox News reported, said LaPierre had over “decades misspent millions of dollars of the group’s money on luxury personal purchases.”

But it was near the end of the New Yorker piece, which was “published in partnership with The Trace, a non-profit news organization covering guns in America,” where perhaps an explanation surfaced unintentionally about media animosity toward LaPierre and the NRA surfaced. Author Mike Spies said LaPierre—who stepped down from NRA prior to the five-week trial, citing health reasons—and NRA had transformed the country. The article was brutally unflattering to LaPierre.

The Trace is backed by anti-gun billionaire and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Spies wrote that concealed carry permits had become “easy to get.” He complained how “Firearms continued their encroachment into public spaces” and that “Stand Your Ground laws swept the nation.”

NRA had been a force behind congressional passage of legislation to prevent liability lawsuits against the firearms industry. It has worked over the years by mobilizing its members into action, to block extremist gun control legislation which, in the wake of the 2022 Bruen ruling, would almost certainly be deemed unconstitutional. Editorial columnists have portrayed NRA as ultimately responsible for violent crime and accused the organization of having a “guns everywhere” policy.

“The Supreme Court,” the article said, “affirmed the individual right to own a firearm, and directed lower courts to ignore public-safety considerations when reviewing regulations.”

And Republicans, Spies wrote, “took an absolutist position on the Second Amendment.”

All of this happened on LaPierre’s watch, and anti-gunners hate him for it. It happened while newspaper editorial boards routinely disdained what many in the firearms community have come to consider “restoration” of Second Amendment rights. While firearms might be considered an “encroachment” by the gun prohibition lobby, mountains of laws and local ordinances and municipal regulations had, for generations, encroached on the right to keep and bear arms until it became little more than a government regulated privilege.

While the establishment media—sometimes referred to as the “legacy” media—zealously defends the First Amendment and other tenets of the Bill of Rights, the Second Amendment has not fared well on editorial pages.

The trial revealed much about NRA’s financial mismanagement. The CNN article, spanning more than 1,400 words, provided the most detail about what had been revealed during the trial. It also noted that NRA attorney Sarah Rodgers argued the “misconduct” had been “concealed from the organization.” AG James had wanted to dissolve NRA, but the court would not allow that.

In addition to the verdict against LaPierre, who has already paid back $1 million, MSN noted that former chief financial officer Wilson “Woody” Phillips was ordered to reimburse the organization for $2 million.

Over the past couple of years, reports have surfaced that NRA has lost millions of dollars in revenue and more than a million members. There have also been staff losses. Social media has seen many posts from people claiming to have either left the organization or vowing not donate again until LaPierre was gone. Now, in the wake of the verdict, and weeks after LaPierre stepped down, only time will tell if the association will recover, and how long it will take.

Significantly, other gun rights organizations have risen in prominence while the NRA has struggled through the past few years. The Second Amendment Foundation has become the national leader in gun rights litigation. Gun Owners of America is also busier in the legal and lobbying arenas. The National Shooting Sports Foundation is more in the spotlight, as are other organizations, including the Firearms Policy Coalition. In the states, there is much more activity involving the California Rifle & Pistol Association, Florida Carry, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Illinois State Rifle Association, Massachusetts Gun Owners Action League, and others, often in tandem with SAF or the NRA.

Now there is much speculation about who will succeed LaPierre. As noted by The Outdoor Wire’s Jim Shepherd back on Feb.15, “Two most frequently mentioned are former NRA figures: longtime NRA-ILA head Chris Cox and former Executive Director of General Operations Joe DeBergalis. Both were purged by LaPierre.”

Shepherd, a veteran journalist, has been in the courtroom frequently during the trial.

He also mentioned NRA President Charles Cotton. Other names mentioned in the Shepherd column were SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb, Safari Club International and Safari Club International Foundation CEO W. Laird Hamberlin, and Larry Keane, senior vice president and general counsel at the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

Whether any of these names will wind up at the helm of NRA remains purely speculative. But one thing is clear: With a crucial election coming in November, tens of millions of firearms owners will be looking for leadership and guidance, not just at the national level but also for local legislative races, because it is in several state capitals where gun rights have been under withering attack by anti-gun Democrats who have not been oblivious to NRA’s troubles.

With the trial over and LaPierre in retirement, things may begin happening fast.


About Dave Workman

Dave Workman is a senior editor at TheGunMag.com and Liberty Park Press, author of multiple books on the Right to Keep & Bear Arms, and formerly an NRA-certified firearms instructor.

Dave WorkmanDave Workman


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