Bob Barr elected to lead NRA

Gun Rights

Former Georgia Rep. Bob Barr was elected on Monday to head the National Rifle Association as the beleaguered gun-rights group struggles to find footing after its top leaders were found liable in February for engaging in financial misconduct and corruption. 

Barr beat out Owen Mills, who has been critical of the NRA’s leadership, Stephen Gutowski, founder of the Reload, reported.

Barr, who worked for the CIA and Department of Justice before becoming a congressman, received 37 votes, while Mills got 30. 

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Barr was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1994, representing Georgia’s 7th Congressional District. 

It will be up to him to turn around the NRA’s fortunes after a Manhattan jury found the organization and former CEO Wayne LaPierre engaged in corrupt practices. Jurors agreed LaPierre had “violated his statutory obligation to discharge the duties of his position in good faith” and that his actions cost the organization $5.4 million.  

“The NRA is little more than a shell of itself after hemorrhaging hundreds of millions in legal fees,” Joshua Powell, a former top NRA official who settled with the state before the seven-week civil showdown, told the New York Times.

The NRA was the most powerful gun rights group in the nation for decades but lost hundreds of thousands of members following allegations of fraud and abuse. To deal with the mass exodus, the organization cut programs that were popular with its members, such as gun training, which led to more people leaving.

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There was also a time when the NRA’s blessing or opposition meant passage or defeat for gun legislation. The once-powerful lobbying group was both feared and revered in Washington and had been championing Second Amendment rights since 1871.

Between 2003 and 2013, the organization scored 230 legislative victories, including passing six state laws that forbid municipalities from limiting gun rights.

Despite those wins, the NRA was unable to secure the expansion of concealed carry, as well as a change to laws restricting gun silencers when the GOP had full control of the House, Senate, and the White House in 2017 and 2018.

As mass shootings piled up, public pressure on lawmakers to find a compromise grew, and the core members of the NRA started looking elsewhere for representation.

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According to Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a nonprofit government ethics watchdog, the NRA raised only $213 million in 2022.

While that may seem like a lot, it marked a 52% drop in overall revenue for the organization.

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