NRA Meets Good Guy with a Gavel

Terry H. Schwadron

May 12, 2021

Oh, poor NRA.

This is that quiet bedtime story about the little non-profit that gets stepped on by the Goliath government, squashing its soul by telling the little guy that no, it can’t manipulate the bankruptcy laws to turn around again tomorrow and promote guns.

It turns out that Harlin D. Hale, the chief judge in federal bankruptcy court in Dallas was the good guy with a gavel to stop a sneaky escape from accountability by a renegade National Rifle Association, hardly an innocent little guy in this tale.

But it is good to know that only a good guy with a weapon — in this case The Law — can stop a bad actor, as the NRA has taught us repeatedly. But hey, we can send our thoughts and prayers.

That means that New York Atty. Gen. Letitia James actually is the new sheriff in town, and she now has a clear path to corner the NRA and its sniveling chief executive Wayne LaPierre with the aim of dissolving the group. James had pursued an 18-month investigation to nail down millions of dollars’ worth of fraud and deceit by the NRA. The lawsuit said LaPierre and several top lieutenants engaged in a decades-long pattern of fraud to raid the coffers of the powerful gun rights group for personal gain.

The Ruling

Specifically, the judge said he agreed with the attorney general’s office “that the N.R.A. is using this bankruptcy case to address a regulatory enforcement problem, not a financial one.” He added that he did not believe the bankruptcy courts were meant to be used this way and that the NRA had been sneaky by not even telling its board of directors about the bankruptcy proceeding.

LaPierre had tried to declare bankruptcy and move to Texas, where he felt state officials would be a lot more welcoming than the bad people of New York.

Texas likes guns, and perhaps New York has seen just too many mass shootings for its tastes. The NRA never sees a problem in making, selling, owning, carrying or even in shooting guns, pistols, rifles, semi-automated weapons, citing protections in the Constitutions over militia groups that until these last decades had never been applied to individual gunslingers.

It was 150 years ago that the NRA was chartered in New York, but it filed for bankruptcy in federal court in Dallas as it sought to move its charter to Texas, where it has far more political support.

The trial that resulted unearthed a lot of personal spending — $64 million worth in three years — by and for LaPierre of NRA money, and there was an aborted attempt within the NRA to throw LaPierre overboard. During the proceedings, lawyers for the NRA acknowledged what one described as “cringeworthy” activities by NRA officials in the past but argued that management improvements had been instituted effectively, The Post reported.

The lawsuit opens LaPierre to a variety of fraud and tax charges, would gut the NRA, and bar its officers from running charities again.

The Man

Outside the organization, LaPierre has become an unwelcome beacon on the horizon after every mass shooting, to once again rise on his hind feet and bay at the moon about the unassailable rights of Americans to carry guns.

As a result, we have more guns than people, and a constant of shooting deaths and injuries that puts guns among the biggest causes of deaths nationwide year after year. More gun deaths are suicides, but our national record is replete with children mistakenly shooting each other while playing with what they think of as toys, and people who should be under mental care able to buy guns and semi-automatic weapons with ease.

The NRA’s general response has been to lobby for gun owners to carry weapons even without permits in schools, bars and churches, and to insist that the only antidote to a Bad Guy with A Gun is a Good Guy with a Gun.

Indeed, one could easily say that the NRA fund-raising and lobbying has successfully used guns to hold Congress politically hostage over considering any limits at all on gun ownership, even for safety reasons. LaPierre has had the ear of Donald Trump, and kept him from acting on gun controls even when Trump said he was considering some.

No one is going to cry for LaPierre and the NRA, elite and autocratic national symbols for uncaring concern for anyone but their gun owners.

There likely will be an attempt to appeal, but this loss is big deal for the NRA. It has made them a target for accountability.


Journalist, musician, community volunteer