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A Brief History of Wayne

I am not an expert on NRA history, but I’ve read a lot and talked to people who have been around for most of the history of the modern (post 1977) NRA.

Wayne succeeded Warren Cassidy, who I understand cost NRA significant sums in settled sexual harassment lawsuits, and was generally not well liked. Wayne was selected because he was boring, and not the type anyone figured would cause that kind of trouble for The Association. As best I can tell, Wayne is not a womanizer. While there’s accusations flying around about other top NRA folks, I think they made a good choice if they didn’t want a repeat of Cassidy.

However, Wayne was not without controversy, and he pretty immediately saw challenges from hard liners. Many of the accusations leveled against Wayne by that coalition weren’t always wrong. I don’t know too many people who would argue they didn’t have a lot of points. That pretty much set up the struggle in the NRA that would continue through to the early 2000s, between the pragmatic wing of the NRA and the hard liners.

Wayne was basically a policy nerd. He was not a charming figure. So he needed help, which came from Ackerman McQueen. The Wayne LaPierre everyone knows today was largely their creation. It was Ack-Mac who helped Wayne cultivate his public image and establish himself.

I don’t know whether Wayne could have survived all these years if it wasn’t for the widely held view that the alternative was the hard liners. Many NRA folks, myself included, viewed that a hard-line takeover of the NRA would result in the organization’s political irrelevance. You don’t always get a choice between winning and losing. Sometimes the choice is whether you get lube or not.

I don’t think Wayne has ever been an ideal leader, and he’s long past his expiration date. The financial malfeasance seems a lot worse than I realized, and I think many realized. We knew the relationship with Ack-Mac had become toxic. But I think everyone figured Wayne would retire and Chris Cox would move into the EVP role, and there would be some needed change. That’s not what happened, and NRA is now in heap big trouble.

The one thing I’d warn our opponents of is that NRA’s members haven’t disappeared. We are still out here and paying attention, and figuring out how to organize around this mess, and around the networks of censorship now established via unfriendly tech monopolies. NRA’s political power didn’t come from Wayne, or the NRA Board. It came from us, and you still have to get past us.

7 Responses to “A Brief History of Wayne”

  1. Skullz says:

    An anecdote:
    I am a Patron level life member of the NRA for the last 6 years. When Wayne’s behavior and the Mac-Ack crap became public I stopped donating any $ (Except for ILA). Every single email I get I reply and forward that when Wayne is out, I’ll reconsider any donations.

    While I have often supported SAF, JPFO, and GOA over the years, I have redirected every dollar that had previously been sent to the NRA across the other 3 groups as well as some local non-profits.

    Many of my close friends have done the same. I have to imagine there are many more folks doing something similar.

  2. Left Coast Conservative says:

    NRA Life Member, 5 years.

    I have done done something similar. Each fund raising appeal was sent back with the following written in:

    NOT ONE DIME UNTIL WAYNE RESIGNS.

    They have stopped sending fund raising mail.

    • Andy B. says:

      “They have stopped sending fund raising mail.”

      NRA Life Member, 47 years; NRA Member 57 years.

      I have circumstantial evidence, from experience, that they have maintained a shit-list long before Wayne became an issue. When I became an outspoken public critic of NRA support for gun-grabber Tom Ridge for PA governor back in 1994, I stopped getting mail from them except for that which was legally required. At that I was lucky, since they were launching negative rumor campaigns against other, higher-profile critics in the Pennsylvania pro-gun camp.

      Just one of my Old Stories: During Warren Cassidy’s tenure, some issue came up for which there was a grassroots campaign for members to write letters of protest to Cassidy. Possibly Neal Knox was instigating it, as I was supporting his efforts at the time. I forget the issue, but I’m pretty sure it had nothing to do with the sexual harassment issues that would follow and would ultimately undo Cassidy.

      Cassidy sent my letter back to me with some really insulting nastiness scrawled on it in felt-tipped pen. I wish I’d saved it for a personal collectors item of minor “movement” history, but I didn’t appreciate living history as much in those days.

      When Wayne came in, friends of mine on the NRA Technical Staff were fired to make room for his faction. When I saw factionalism entering, that reached down to the non-political level, I knew NRA’s future would not be good.

  3. Richard says:

    As you said in an earlier post, the alternatives are worse grifters. I exempt the SAF but they have a different role.

    When an organization melts down like this, the CEO has got to go.

  4. Andy B. says:

    I see it reported that the NRA is looking for real estate in Texas to house its headquarters.

    Now I’m going to have to search my memory (and wish I still had my cartons of old American Rifleman magazines) to remind me why the proposed move of NRA Headquarters to New Mexico was sufficient casus belli to bring about the Revolt in Cincinnati in 1977.

    Or is this more of the charade to churn money that will wind up in the pockets of the last insiders standing?

    “Certain executives are relocating to Texas, and will use this office space in connection with the NRA establishing a principal place of business in the state,” Patrick J. Neligan Jr., an attorney with Neligan LLP who is representing the NRA, said in his motion with the court. “At some later date, Colliers may also assist the Debtors in purchasing property in connection with an anticipated relocation of the NRA’s corporate headquarters.

    • Andy B. says:

      “…the proposed move of NRA Headquarters to New Mexico…”

      Forgive me. It was proposed to move NRA Headquarters to Colorado. New Mexico was to be the site of what became the Whittington Center.

      But, same question. What has changed in principle?

      • Dan Fortis says:

        How about: in the 1970s, the NRA board seriously proposed moving to Colorado. Now, an attorney,, without input from the board, puts out some BS to try to persuade a Texas court that NRA really has special ties to Texas so the court will keep the case.

        That there’s no sign the board’s permission, or even advice, was asked previous to saying this shows just how irrelevant the board has become to NRA’s management.

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