Wayne LaPierre

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Wayne LaPierre

Postby Wombaticus Rex » Thu Dec 03, 2015 6:58 pm

I have been working on a long-ass essay on guns and gun control and the American Experiment and in the past week, something has been bugging me. Basically, I don't understand how the fuck Wayne is still running the NRA. When I don't understand something that obvious, it gets me interested.

I've seen this man speak three times now - he is neither articulate nor charismatic. One of the times I watched him speak was downright uncomfortable and I was not the only person in the audience who felt that way. But...after that 2012 press conference...how was he not exiled? My working conclusion is two parallel bets: either Wayne has some kind of leverage that is esoteric and related to the Washington DC political blackmail establishment, or the NRA has no intentions of lasting another decade because they know there is a coming demographic shift that will render them powerless, or at least broken.

Contributions welcome, but please refrain from opinion pieces detailing what a turd-weasel this thick motherfucker is. We know.

First up, Frontline:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/artic ... -lapierre/

LaPierre wasn’t always a gun enthusiast.

In fact, when he first joined the NRA in 1978, he was more comfortable on K Street than in a duck blind.

“The safest place you could be with Wayne and a gun back then was in a different state, because he really did not know anything about guns,” former NRA spokesman John Aquilino tells FRONTLINE. “Politics, yes; guns, no.”


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Internal Culture

Postby Wombaticus Rex » Thu Dec 03, 2015 7:12 pm

Via: http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015 ... e-lapierre

'The NRA didn't tolerate dissent well': how the gun lobby stays on-message

A few days after the murder of nine people at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, Mike Rosen joined the National Rifle Association.

Rosen, an elected member of the Portland public schools board, has never so much as fired a real gun let alone owned one. But he was frustrated that, for all the talk of tighter gun control after each mass killing in the US, nothing changed because of the power of the NRA.

“I was really impressed by what Obama said in his address to the nation. That this has got to be a single voter issue. Only vote for people that are for gun control,” he said.

“I keep hearing that there are people in the NRA who want gun control and I have friends that are NRA members who own guns and want gun control. So why not get people to join the NRA and change it from within?”

The first obstacle to Rosen’s strategy was the reaction of liberal friends.

“It was like I had gone to the enemy camp. My $25 membership from their perspective had now funded all of the anti-gun control legislation that was to come,” he said. “Frankly, the feedback I’ve gotten has been dismal from ‘That’s an interesting idea but I don’t think it’ll work’ to ‘You’re an asshole, you just joined the NRA’.”


Public opinion is divided. A Gallup poll this week confirmed a long-term trend of support for the NRA, with 58% saying they have a favourable view of the organisation. But a Pew poll in August also showed that 85% of Americans would like to see gun control measures, such as wider background checks on buyers, which the NRA opposes.

Rosen soon discovered a much greater impediment to reform of the organisation from within.

For a start, only life members and those who have been in the NRA for five years or more can vote in its elections.

The NRA claims to be a grassroots organisation driven by the popular will of its 4 million-plus members. But real power lies in the hands of a few executives, a shadowy committee which tightly controls elections to the NRA’s board of directors and a public relations company that for three decades has driven the organisation’s uncompromising opposition to any form of gun control.

NRA officials and members who challenge this power structure say they have been driven out or marginalised.


There's a good chance that their three decade reign of success has do to with money. This is either a hugely successful fundraising approach -- quite possible -- or there are other, less opaque spigots of money coming into the NRA -- equally possible. Both could be true, too.

The illusion of choice
The face of the NRA is Wayne LaPierre, its executive vice-president for the past 24 years who sharply divides America with his unyielding defence of gun rights even in the aftermath of tragedies such as the massacre of 20 children at Sandy Hook elementary school three years ago. He is surrounded by a clutch of key executives with budgets of tens of millions of dollars to run political campaigns, strong-arm Congress and influence elections.

LaPierre is also supported by gun makers, who help give the NRA its financial clout with large donations and hold seats on the organisation’s board of directors.

The axis of power at the top of the NRA is shored up by an internal electoral structure that has had the effect of stalling change.

In theory, policy is decided by the NRA’s membership through its election of representatives to the organisation’s board of directors. But grassroots power is limited. And less than 10% of those eligible cast a ballot.

Candidates for the board must be approved by a nine-member “nominations committee”. The committee is appointed by the NRA’s president in consultation with LaPierre and his executives.

Each year it strikes down dozens of potential contenders to put fewer than 30 names on the ballot for the 25 seats up for election each year. The 75 board members serve a three-year term. A 76th is appointed annually by popular vote at the national conference.

“The nominating committee is very, very important,” said Richard Feldman, a former Reagan administration commerce department official who went on to work as an NRA regional political director. “If you don’t control the nominating committee you lose control of your own board.”

...

Ackerman McQueen, an Oklahoma public relations firm, has run the NRA’s confrontational publicity campaigns and driven many of its political victories for more than 30 years. In that time, the firm has forged a symbiotic relationship that has kept LaPierre unchallenged in power and Ackerman McQueen in lucrative contracts.

Feldman, who said he regards Knox’s criticisms as fair, credits Ackerman McQueen with the NRA’s metamorphosis from a sporting organisation to a gun rights group and the remaking of LaPierre into an aggressive defender of the second amendment.

Feldman, author of Ricochet, Confessions of a Gun Lobbyist, said that when LaPierre was appointed he showed little personal interest in guns or hunting. Other former colleagues characterised him as a policy wonk and an “absent-minded professor”.

“Ackerman McQueen, back in the early 90s when Wayne LaPierre wasn’t nearly as secure, when it was less clear he would survive, Ackerman McQueen protected him in a multitude of ways. With advertising, they made him a rock star within the gun community,” said Feldman. “Now nobody’s out to get his job. He’ll have the job until he’s ready to leave.”


And the real meat:

The PR agency had already established itself inside the NRA before LaPierre’s rise to power. By the late 1980s, it had overseen the scrapping of the group’s in-house public relations team and planted executives in the organisation’s headquarters.

From there it forged a series of hugely successful recruitment campaigns which dug the NRA out of debt.


Leveraged buyout, meet hostile takeover.
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NRA as business

Postby Wombaticus Rex » Thu Dec 03, 2015 7:22 pm

I haven't really parsed these two yet, could be a political attack, seems like a simple business analysis from a fairly disgusted observer. Feel free to attack whatever.

Via: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-nr ... 2015-10-02

The Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Connecticut almost three years ago did nothing to restrict access to guns, as the students of Umpqua Community College in Oregon learned to their cost yesterday.

But it did a huge amount for the National Rifle Association.

As the rest of America mourns yet another murderous gun spree on campus, a review of financial filings shows just how far the mammoth gun organization has been able to cash in, big time, on the fallout that followed Sandy Hook in December 2012.

Membership dues jumped as supporters rallied to the cause. So did profits. And executive pay ran into the millions. Not bad for a charity that is exempt from taxes.

...

NRA membership dues skyrocketed by a staggering 62% in the year after Sandy Hook, from $108 million to $176 million. Total revenue in 2013 hit a third of a billion dollars.

As a result, the massive organization saw profits — excuse me, “surpluses” — rocket 2,750% to $57 million.

Of course, that’s before taxes. But, then, it didn’t pay any taxes, for it is a nonprofit charity.

The NRA estimates it was also helped by 150,000 volunteers. How many corporations could boast as much?

The NRA top executives shared that year in a treasure chest of more than $8 million in salary, bonuses, nontaxable benefits, deferred pay and other compensation — a nice payout for an organization that enjoys charitable exemption from U.S. taxes. LaPierre alone made a million bucks a year, which is, ironically, equal to about $100 for every man, woman and child murdered with a gun in America.


At least someone is monetizing it, right?

Via: http://www.businessinsider.com/gun-indu ... nra-2013-1

How The Gun Industry Funnels Tens Of Millions Of Dollars To The NRA

...

One of the most interesting aspects of all is how an association for sportsmen became the prime defenders of assault weaponry.

In its early days, the National Rifle Association was a grassroots social club that prided itself on independence from corporate influence.

While that is still part of the organization's core function, today less than half of the NRA's revenues come from program fees and membership dues.

The bulk of the group's money now comes in the form of contributions, grants, royalty income, and advertising, much of it originating from gun industry sources.

Since 2005, the gun industry and its corporate allies have given between $20 million and $52.6 million to it through the NRA Ring of Freedom sponsor program. Donors include firearm companies like Midway USA, Springfield Armory Inc, Pierce Bullet Seal Target Systems, and Beretta USA Corporation. Other supporters from the gun industry include Cabala's, Sturm Rugar & Co, and Smith & Wesson.

The NRA also made $20.9 million — about 10 percent of its revenue — from selling advertising to industry companies marketing products in its many publications in 2010, according to the IRS Form 990.

Additionally, some companies donate portions of sales directly to the NRA. Crimson Trace, which makes laser sights, donates 10 percent of each sale to the NRA. Taurus buys an NRA membership for everyone who buys one of their guns. Sturm Rugar gives $1 to the NRA for each gun sold, which amounts to millions. The NRA's revenues are intrinsically linked to the success of the gun business.

The NRA Foundation also collects hundreds of thousands of dollars from the industry, which it then gives to local-level organizations for training and equipment purchases.

This shift is key to understanding why a coalition of hunters, collectors and firearm enthusiasts takes the heat for incidents of gun violence, like the shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, rather than the companies that manufacture and market assault weapons.

The chief trade association for gun manufacturers is the National Shooting Sports Federation, which is, incidentally, located in Newtown, Conn. But the NRA takes front and center after each and every shooting.

"Today's NRA is a virtual subsidiary of the gun industry," said Josh Sugarmann, executive director of the Violence Policy Center. "While the NRA portrays itself as protecting the 'freedom' of individual gun owners, it's actually working to protect the freedom of the gun industry to manufacture and sell virtually any weapon or accessory."

There are two reasons for the industry support for the NRA. The first is that the organization develops and maintains a market for their products. The second, less direct function, is to absorb criticism in the event of PR crises for the gun industry.

It's possible that without the NRA, people would be protesting outside of Glock, SIG Sauer and Freedom Group — the makers of the guns used in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre — and dragging the CEOs in front of cameras and Congress. That is certainly what happened to tobacco executives when their products continued killing people.

Notoriously, tobacco executives even attempted to form their own version of the NRA in 1993, seeing the inherent benefit to the industry that such an effort would have. Philip Morris bankrolled the National Smokers Alliance, a group that never quite had the groundswell of support the industry wanted.

Notably, the tide has shifted slightly in the wake of Sandy Hook, with Cerberus Capital Management's decision to sell Freedom Group, the company that makes the Bushmaster rifle.

But if history is any indication, the NRA will be front and center of the new gun control debate, while gun manufacturers remain safely out of the spotlight.
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Re: Wayne LaPierre

Postby Wombaticus Rex » Thu Dec 03, 2015 7:46 pm

Wombaticus Rex » Thu Dec 03, 2015 5:58 pm wrote:I have been working on a long-ass essay on guns and gun control and the American Experiment and in the past week, something has been bugging me. Basically, I don't understand how the fuck Wayne is still running the NRA. When I don't understand something that obvious, it gets me interested.


Note to future self: address the concern that is bugging you rather than the "obvious" path of building up top-level datasets and sketching out "questions" that are obviously based on the conclusions you wanted to find.

I would have worked out a few things way faster by digging up rudimentary reading on Wayne vs. trying to figure out who has the least polluted .xls downloads.
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2015 Seismic Shifts

Postby Wombaticus Rex » Thu Dec 03, 2015 8:39 pm

The homie Adam Weinstein with the update:
http://www.thetrace.org/2015/10/nra-mas ... -lapierre/

The Silent Season of Wayne LaPierre
What is the National Rifle Association, if its leader no longer bothers to publicly address or try to redefine the mass shootings that shock the nation?

October 21 - 2015

After the massacre at Columbine High School in 1999, the National Rifle Association’s Wayne LaPierre responded by telling Congress that his group favored “mandatory instant criminal background checks for every sale at every gun show. No loopholes anywhere for anyone.” After mass shootings at a Tucson, Arizona, strip mall, the Washington Navy Yard, and a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, LaPierre and his representatives offered statements of condolence to the victims and exhorted Americans to permit more “good guys with guns.” After 20 children and six instructors lost their lives at Sandy Hook Elementary School, LaPierre famously held a press conference to call for armed guards in schools, advocate rigorous mental health checks for gun-buyers, and blame video games and rap music for creating a culture of violence.

The urge to do something in the wake of mass murders with firearms is so natural and widespread that the NRA has historically felt it, in its way. This year, that national interest in doing something has returned, over and again. There was the shootout between armed bikers last May at a Waco, Texas, restaurant that killed nine and injured 18. In June, there was Dylann Roof’s racially motivated murder of nine black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina. There was the Chattanooga, Tennessee, recruiting-center shooting and the Lafayette, Louisiana, movie theater shooting and the late August killing of two Roanoke, Virginia, TV reporters by an ex-colleague, posted online for all to see. There was the Umpqua Community College shooting earlier this month, the deadliest in Oregon’s history, and the deadliest in America since 2013.

Amid this relentless carnage and a growing call for action, LaPierre has said…nothing.

Certainly, other, lesser outposts of the empire have chimed in: A member of the lobby’s board blamed the Charleston victims for being unarmed; after Chattanooga, a spokesman argued that military recruiters should be carrying. NRA News has made cursory mentions of the Umpqua massacre to the organization’s faithful, among them a mercurial video segment, a week after the shooting, titled “Heroism in the Age of the Beta Male.” And the NRA’s Twitter feed has been a fire hose of agitated partisanship since last week’s Democratic debate, culminating in its excited painting of Hillary Clinton as a gun-confiscating fascist after she suggested that Australia’s post-massacre gun buyback model could be worth looking into.


Perhaps -- probably not, but perhaps -- I was wrong about assuming 2012 had no effect on him. I'll have to dig and verify he's really been silent, seems dubious.

...

Something has changed this year. In terms of speaking to a broader American audience, the organization that also calls itself “a major political force” and “America’s foremost defender of Second Amendment rights” has been uncharacteristically silent. Its absence from the stage raises real questions about the organization’s identity and potency. What is the National Rifle Association’s place in American culture and politics, if it no longer bothers to address or define a national event like this?


First question that springs to mind: what if everyone involved on an operational level knows for a fact they don't even have to? Seems likely.

There is a school of thought in crisis communications that says you don’t feed a story with unnecessary public comment when you have nothing new to say. It’s possible this is the situation the NRA finds itself in today: Having gone from agreeing to close background-check loopholes to proposing more, not fewer, guns in schools in the span of two decades, the gun lobby may have reached the terminus of its product pipeline. Its policy position now seems so extreme that there’s nowhere else to go.

Meanwhile, the NRA finds itself challenged from the right, where more radical groups such as Gun Owners of America and the National Association for Gun Rights have emerged to compete for the affection and dollars of “gunnies.” On this farther fringe, LaPierre’s calls to entrust school safety to designated armed personnel is apostasy, an unacceptable infringement on the individual’s right to bear whatever arms he wants, wherever he wants to bear them. After the NRA’s Sandy Hook press conference, Philip Van Cleave, a representative of another of those fringe groups, the Virginia Citizens Defense League, vented his frustration with LaPierre’s call for an armed elite. “Utah allows everybody with a permit to carry in a school,” Van Cleave told a local TV station. “How many school shootings have you heard of in Utah?”

To such Second Amendment absolutists, unfettered firearms possession is an intrinsic good, an end in itself, rather than a means to an end. These activists can brook no restrictions, however small. And if they sense the NRA is not advancing that agenda, they can be sure the insurgents will.


Aye, and in several directions besides. More at original link.
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Re: Wayne LaPierre

Postby tapitsbo » Tue Dec 08, 2015 12:01 pm

Seems like part of his job would be convincing owners they were about to lose their guns, if only to help boost sales.

Silence seems like a powerful way to induce anxiety and doubt in a demographic that has everything to gain from horizontal co-ordination.

I feel there's more to this riddle that my eyes have yet to uncover, however.
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