U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)- First it was the departure of legendary Detroit rocker and devoted hunter Ted Nugent—the “Motor City Madman’—after serving on the National Rifle Association’s Board of Directors for more than a quarter-century and being one of its highest-profile advocates.
Now Owen “Buz” Mills and longtime NRA stalwart actress Susan Howard have also stepped down, both indicating sorrow and disappointment at NRA leadership.
Nugent’s resignation was officially said to be “due to ongoing schedule conflicts.”
All of this is happening as the NRA’s 150th anniversary looms with the annual members’ meeting and exhibits scheduled in Houston, Texas over the Labor Day weekend. NRA was incorporated in New York state in 1871.
Because of the departures from the board, there is the natural curiosity about what is going on, especially after the resignation announcements from Mills and Howard appeared on social media.
In his message, posted on Facebook, Mills stated, “I find myself in continuous turmoil trying to continue the good work we have accomplished and working to convince fellow board members to stand up for our membership and exercise the principals of good governance. In June, I asked our leadership if we had been noticed by our insurer that our Directors and Officers Insurance would not be renewed, I got no answer, they all simply looked at their… shoes? Why so much trouble with candor? We had the same issue back in January with the vote to approve the ‘reorganization’ authority.”
Howard’s message to her colleagues was written in all capital letters. In it, she states, “DEAR BOARD, SEVERAL OF YOU HAVE ASKED IF MY RESIGNATION FROM THE BOARD IS BECAUSE OF ILLNESS—THE ANSWER IS YES!! BUT, IT IS A SICKNESS OF HEART AT WHAT I HAVE DISCOVERED REGARDING THE LACK OF LEADERSHIP IN OUR LEADERS—THEY HAVE FAILED NOT ONLY THE BOARD, BUT THE ENTIRE MEMBERSHIP OF MILLIONS OF FAITHFUL CONTRIBUTORS.”
One major issue appears to be non-renewal of liability insurance for officers and directors of the 5-million-member gun rights organization. A $5 million fund was reportedly established, but as noted by the blog “NRAindanger,” that amount of money “won’t go very far” in the event all 76 directors face some form of legal action over liability for the troubles now facing the NRA.
There is a report that NRA leadership has secured some type of insurance for directors, but it is not clear what that entails.
According to Bloomberg News, reporting July 30 on Nugent’s resignation from the board, “Representatives for Nugent and the NRA didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment. An outdoor group called Hunter Nation announced earlier this month that Nugent was going to become its national spokesperson.”
Nugent served on the NRA Board since 1995. Howard has been on the board for more than two decades and Mills has been a director for at least “a dozen years,” according to a copy of his letter to NRA Secretary John Frazer that was posted on Facebook.
NRA has been in turmoil since the annual meeting of members in Indianapolis when then-NRA President Oliver North clashed with NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre. North departed the convention and did not even preside at the annual members’ meeting. At the time, the clash was considered a failed attempted coup.
Last August, NRA was sued by New York State Attorney General Letitia James, who had promised during her campaign for office to take on the association. Since taking office, James had conducted a 15-month investigation of the association prior to filing the lawsuit, which seeks the dissolution of the NRA.
The lawsuit alleged NRA executives had misused association funds over the course of several years. This past winter, LaPierre announced a plan to move the organization out of New York and reincorporate in Texas. The association filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as part of the plan. That message was no longer found on the NRA website when AmmoLand News checked.
But in May, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Harlin Hale in Dallas ruled against NRA and threw out the bankruptcy effort. The judge said NRA had not filed for Chapter 11 in good faith. As Reuters reported at the time, the bankruptcy claim was “filed to avoid oversight by New York Attorney General Letitia James and gain an ‘unfair litigation advantage’ over her.”
Here’s an excerpt of what Judge Hale wrote: “(T)he Court finds there is cause to dismiss this bankruptcy case as not having been filed in good faith both because it was filed to gain an unfair litigation advantage and because it was filed to avoid a state regulatory scheme.”
The 38-page ruling was a blow to NRA’s effort, and according to the New York Times’ report on the decision back on May 11, “An appeal could be difficult.” However, the newspaper also noted, “Gun control groups cheered the news, though it is unlikely to fundamentally shift the gun debate…”
That debate is continuing on its own, with veteran anti-gunner Joe Biden in the White House and equally anti-gun Kamala Harris waiting in the wings with her own threat to take executive action on guns, should she ever become president. Capitol Hill Democrats are pushing new gun control schemes that have already passed in the House. Biden has nominated retired ATF agent-turned-gun-control-advocate David Chipman to head the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Now, with the NRA preparing for its annual meeting in Houston on Labor Day Weekend (Sept. 3-5), there could be more intrigue looming. Some are predicting a low turnout due to the holiday weekend when so many families have other plans.
And The Daily Beast reported NRA’s popular “Eddie Eagle” gun safety program for youngsters is also experiencing hard times. The article said NRA has slashed its training and education budget by “more than a third.” The Eddie Eagle program had reportedly reached more than 1 million children annually since it was created more than three decades ago, and the Daily Beast report suggests the Eddie Eagle program has “imploded.”
However, according to a report in TheGunMag.com, the Daily Beast article is at best jaded.
Will there be more board departures? If so, it will be hard to ignore such developments while the organization is perceived to be fighting for its very existence.
(Full Disclosure: Author Dave Workman served on the NRA Board between the years 1992 and 2002.)
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