NRA Members Gather in Dallas, Promise to Continue Supporting Its Gun Rights Mission

Gun Rights

DALLAS—The National Rifle Association is hosting its 153rd Annual Meeting and Exhibits in Dallas. It’s the first annual meeting in more than 30 years without longtime leader Wayne LaPierre.

Members interviewed by The Epoch Times express less concern about Mr. LaPierre’s resignation last January and more about remaining focused on the Second Amendment.

Last February, a New York court ordered Mr. LaPierre to pay $4.3 million in damages for the mismanagement and misuse of charitable funds. A Manhattan jury found that Mr. LaPierre had misused millions of dollars from the NRA accounts over 30 years.

The expenditures included private jet travel, island vacations, and other luxuries.

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Andrew Arulanandam, an executive and head of general operations for the NRA, stepped in as interim CEO and executive vice president after Mr. LaPierre’s resignation.

But this wasn’t the first scandal to hit the NRA in the past decade.

In 2019, retired Lt. Col. Oliver North resigned as NRA president. He claimed the NRA’s board of directors forced him out for attempting to open the NRA’s books to its membership.

During its 2024 elections, NRA members approved a new position, chief compliance officer, to be filled by the board of directors.

Attendees who spoke with The Epoch Times at the Dallas gathering said they knew little about the details of the case against Mr. LaPierre. They claimed to be focused on maintaining their Second Amendment rights and wanted the NRA focused on that as well.

Mike Runnels, of Big Sandy, Texas, has been a life member of the NRA for more than 15 years. He joined the organization to support its work in preserving the Second Amendment. From his perspective, the NRA is still strong.

“I still believe in what its intention is, and that’s to preserve our Second Amendment rights,” Mr. Runnels told The Epoch Times.

The Rubio family came to Dallas from the Central Valley of California. Zeke Rubio, the group’s patriarch, said that support for the Second Amendment is strong where they live.

“We’re not from Los Angeles, and we’re not from San Francisco,” Mr. Rubio told The Epoch Times. “We’re from the Central Valley, the conservative part of California.”

Mr. Rubio has been an NRA member for 10 years, and his daughter, Laura Rubio, joined in the past year.

They said Californians are seeing firsthand why citizens need to be able to defend themselves. From issues at the southern border to rising crime rates, Mr. Rubio said California is a cautionary tale.
Ms. Rubio agreed.

“I believe in what the NRA is trying to do, supporting our Second Amendment rights, and I think that’s important, especially nowadays,” she told The Epoch Times.

Dom Ford is a retired Marine colonel with 30 years of military service. He joined the NRA in 2020 because he wanted to help defend his Second Amendment rights. Mr. Ford said some of his friends are skeptical of the NRA because of its recent problems and what they see as a cozy relationship with the firearms industry.

But he said the organization’s history of defending Constitutional rights convinced him to give it the chance to prove itself.

“I believe in the NRA brand,” Mr. Ford told The Epoch Times. “I will stand by them until I can’t.”

Mr. Ford said his military career taught him what it takes to run an effective organization, and he would like to see the NRA adopt the principles he was taught.

“You have to be transparent. You explain your decisions . . . and they have to move the organization in the right direction,” Mr. Ford said.

While Mr. Runnels said he had no advice for NRA leadership, he also has no illusions about the challenges they face. He pointed out that there are plenty of gun control groups hoping the NRA is on its last legs.

“I think it’s gonna be tough. I think it’s gonna be an uphill battle from here on. There’s a lot of forces completely contrary to what NRA stands for,” he said.

From The Epoch Times

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