Oliver North, left, and Wayne LaPierre.

Bob Brehl: A good ol’ shootout at the NRA corral

  • May 5, 2019

A power struggle at the top of the U.S. National Rifle Association ‘pert near turned its annual convention into a Gunfight at the O.K. Corral last weekend.

You’d be hard-pressed to get a Spaghetti Western movie director to believe this NRA script, especially because all them thar’ characters seemed to be wearing black hats.

But that’s not surprising for an organization afeared of even the most rational gun control laws. The NRA relentlessly resists any change, while so many innocent lives are ended by guns. In the last 50 years, more Americans have died on home soil from domestic guns than all Americans have died in all the wars the country has ever fought.

The two main characters in this shootout were long-time NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre and Lt. Col. Oliver North, an integral player in one of the most famous gun-running schemes in history back in the 1980s called the Iran-Contra Affair. North was made president of the NRA last year, a volunteer position.

There was even a cameo appearance at the Indianapolis convention by President Donald Trump who gave a speech to assure the gun lobby he’s their “champion” and he’ll fight for their gun-toting rights in the 2020 presidential election.

And for good measure, Trump said he “will never” ratify the Arms Trade Treaty, which seeks to discourage the sale of guns to countries that don’t protect human rights. (On one hand, Trump will try to roll back abortions, but on the other hand he’ll ignore human rights. His supporters don’t see any contradictions there.)

Anyway, back to the NRA internal shootin’ match.

You may remember LaPierre, dubbed by New York media as the “Craziest Man on Earth” when only days after 20 school children aged six and seven (and six teachers) were slaughtered in Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., LaPierre said gun-free school zones are easy targets and attract killers.

He said teachers should teachers carry guns in school to protect children.

That was almost seven years ago and the NRA has obstinately continued its fight against gun control after each mass shooting: Las Vegas, Orlando, San Bernardino, Pittsburgh, Parkland, Fla., and so many more. The latest was a deadly shooting in a San Diego synagogue April 27.

U.S. Catholic bishops have urged rational gun controls for decades, including: a total ban on assault weapons, universal background checks, limitations on civilian access to high-capacity weapons and ammunition magazines, limitations on the purchase of handguns and more.

LaPierre has been a paid employee of the NRA for decades. North, still a darling to much of the right, was a National Security Council staff member during the Iran-Contra Affair.

That scandal was about the illegal sale of weapons to Iran to help free U.S. hostages then held in Lebanon. North devised a plan to also divert money from the arms sales to help fund the U.S.-backed Contra rebels in Nicaragua. He received limited immunity from prosecution in exchange for testifying before Congress.

But that is ancient history. So, you may ask, why were LaPierre and North in this fight over guns? As is so often the case, it’s ultimately about money. There is much speculation donations to the NRA are slowing down in recent years.

At the beginning of the NRA’s 148th annual meeting, LaPierre and North got into dust-up over allegations of financial improprieties and possible overpayments to Ackerman McQueen, the public relations firm that has been paid tens of millions of dollars or more in the decades since it began shaping the aggressively fierce NRA messages. In 2017 alone, the NRA paid the firm $40 million, according to the Associated Press.

LaPierre’s camp hurled accusations of conflict of interest at North, who was being paid gobs of money by Ackerman McQueen, while his camp lobbed back grenades that LaPierre’s mismanagement threatens the NRA’s nonprofit status.

I can just imagine what happened at the NRA board meeting after North stormed in to take over.

“Hands up,” he says. “This here six-shooter is loaded and I ain’t afraid to use it.”

To which, LaPierre turned around with an AR-15 in his hands.

“Six-shooter? This here thing fires off 400 rounds per minute, even 600 when I add the bump stock I bought for $40 from gunbroker.com,” LaPierre says. “I suggest you and your boy scout friends run along now.”

And that was the end of Ollie’s NRA coup attempt. For those who love to holler “fake news,” the above encounter is meant to be satire.

In fact, and not surprisingly, the NRA board did side with LaPierre, the so-called “Craziest Man on Earth,” and told North he would no longer be NRA president.

It’s rare for the NRA to air such dirty laundry. The leaders look like the Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight.

And that’s potentially very good for gun control advocates and anyone wanting fewer mass shootings at churches and synagogues, schools, nightclubs, concerts and workplaces.

(Brehl is an writer and author of many books.)

Comments (1)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

"I can just imagine what happened at the NRA board meeting after North stormed in to take over."

Robert, it sounds to me that you don't have a grasp on the accusations against a 28 year incumbent. You're articles reads like a c- Hollywood script...

"I can just imagine what happened at the NRA board meeting after North stormed in to take over."

Robert, it sounds to me that you don't have a grasp on the accusations against a 28 year incumbent. You're articles reads like a c- Hollywood script completely with a wildly fictional and illogical use of those dangerous guns I know nothing about but will now educate you on.

Seriously, wouldn't it be more fitting to report on the allegations on the catholic register instead of working on your next failed Hollywood triller?

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Comment was last edited about 11 months ago by Erik C Ron Carter
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