Pro-gun outlets turn on Wayne LaPierre over “dumpster fire” at the NRA

Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

Armed American Radio referred to the National Rifle Association’s financial troubles as a “self-inflicted wound” and joined a chorus of other pro-gun media outlets calling for the resignation of the organization’s executive vice president and CEO, Wayne LaPierre. 

Over the past several months, the NRA has taken blow after blow following the ouster of then-President Oliver North, the termination of the organization’s nearly 40-year relationship with the advertising agency Ackerman McQueen, reports of LaPierre’s “lavish” spending at the NRA’s expense, and the end of their online broadcast platform NRATV. Since then, NRA members have called on the organization to make sweeping structural changes in response to allegations of mismanagement, while some board members say they have been stripped of committee assignments after speaking out against LaPierre. 

Armed American Radio is the official radio program of the United States Concealed Carry Association, “a membership organization that provides self-defense education, training and legal protection to responsibly armed Americans.” USCCA is frequently promoted by Fox News’ Sean HannityArmed American Radio has been airing for more than 10 years and reaches more then 200 terrestrial radio stations, including major markets such as Washington, D.C., Tampa, FL, and Atlanta, GA. The program has a three-hour Sunday broadcast and one-hour broadcasts during weekdays. Well-known pro-gun guests that have appeared on the show include John Lott and AWR Hawkins, Dave Workman, Curt Schilling, and Alan Gottlieb.

During the program’s July 21 edition, host Mark Walters and pro-gun advocate David Codrea discussed the NRA’s situation and a July 18 column written by pro-gun radio host Tom Gresham, stating, “It’s time for Wayne LaPierre to retire.” Walters said LaPierre should resign because “America needs a very strong National Rifle Association moving into 2020.” Codrea went one step further, calling on the NRA to fire LaPierre and adding that the “dumpster fire” at the pro-gun organization may never be put out.

MARK WALTERS (HOST): Let’s start with your thoughts on what came from Tom. You know Tom, and you’ve been on his show a number of times. What did you think? 

DAVID CODREA: Yes, I know Tom very well. He has always been very kind to me that the times that I’ve been on Gun Talk Radio. And like you, I have a lot of respect for Tom and a lot of respect for what Tom does. It just so happens that this afternoon, I am writing my own piece on the NRA and what’s going on for Firearms News, and I begin with Tom’s piece where he recommends that Wayne step down for the good of all. And basically though, the way that I begin is that -- first of all quoting him, but then admitting that he’s a much nicer person than I am, as are you, because I do not call on Wayne LaPierre to retire. I call on NRA to fire him, OK? And I don't believe that NRA, that Wayne LaPierre is going to voluntarily step down. And let me just preface that: No one has a crystal ball. No knows what pressures are going on right now and no one knows what story will break, you know, tomorrow, OK? But it just -- it is what it is. But I don’t think that Wayne LaPierre can let go. I think that Wayne LaPierre is riding a tiger. I think Wayne LaPierre knows that he has the attorney general of state of New York and now Washington, D.C., trying to go after NRA and him and the reason that they’re going to do that is because they’re trying to pin criminal charges. And I think that for Wayne LaPierre right now to let go of the reigns of the NRA and to let go of the ability to control the legal mechanism that goes on within that would mean that he would fall off that tiger and be ripped to shreds. I don’t think that Wayne LaPierre is going to go gentle into that good night. 

WALTERS: That’s a poem we all read back in college. And I agree with you on that. I’ll tell you why -- because you’ve said a number of things here. This is a conversation that I’ve had multiple times on the program and [INAUDIBLE] my piece about Wayne going was not nice in fact. I had -- as I said -- a number of people, who will go unmentioned, of some very, let’s just say well-known folks within the industry call me and say that was pretty hardcore going after Wayne like that, singling him out, and my response was, “I don’t care,” on those private calls, is what I said. Because we’re talking about what has to happen for the NRA to be successful. This coming -- I think you’ll agree with me. If you disagree, let me know, you always do, if you do -- but I believe that America needs a very strong National Rifle Association moving into 2020, do you?

CODREA: I do. However, I think that with this dumpster fire, it’s going to be a while if ever before we see it put out. Particularly with the circling of the wagons that we’ve seen, and particularly with news that’s coming out of directors who aren’t, you know, 100% in lockstep saluting to the, you know, to the LaPierre march being taken off of committees. And I think that what we’re seeing is we’re seeing them digging in and getting ready for the big fight, and I think that it is going to have severe repercussions, particularly on the upcoming election.

Walters opened the July 22 show by inviting Codrea back to finish up the conversation and referring to the NRA’s scandal-ridden situation as a “self-inflicted wound.” Codrea reiterated that he’d like to see LaPierre fired but the NRA executive vice president is “surrounded by his loyalists” and “the wagons have been circled” out of a “desperation for survival.”

Armed American Radio joins a host of other pro-gun outlets and figures who have criticized the NRA and called for LaPierre’s resignation. In a recent editorial, pro-gun blog The Truth About Guns urged NRA members to starve the organization of funds and flood their phone lines “to let them know they’re not happy with the current state of affairs.” The piece went on to say, “If LaPierre has any regard for the NRA, its membership, and the cause of gun rights, he’ll resign.” The editorial echoed an article in the gun blog Ammoland asking LaPierre to “retire as our hero,” and a popular gun YouTube page that announced it will no longer support the NRA after reports of financial mismanagement.

Several NRA members created a “Save the Second” campaign to reform the NRA. Among other proposals, the group wants “to shrink the number of directors [on the NRA board] by more than half, institute attendance requirements for meetings,” encourage more members to vote in board elections, and refocus the organization “away from its current broad reactionary politics to a stricter focus on Second Amendment advocacy.”