Last Friday, our news feature (which I wrote) said “the fate of the NRA would hang in the balance” when the New York State case against the organization began on January 8, 2024.
That’s not correct.
On March 22, 2023, a New York Supreme Court justice (Joel M. Cohen) struck down Attorney General Letitia James’ attempts to dissolve the organization. In his opinion, Justice Cohen wrote the effort to shut down the Association “ran afoul of common sense, New York law, and the First Amendment.” Getting wrapped up in rhetoric can lead to hyperbole-permissible, even in news writing. Factual inaccuracy, however, is not.
So….the dissolution of the National Rifle Association is not at issue. What will be tried on January 8, 2024 are the charges alleging that the NRA’s four top officials, including longtime head Wayne LaPierre, violated the state’s nonprofit laws by illegally diverting tens of millions of dollars from the group via excessive expenses and contracts that benefitted relatives or close associates.
It’s not the death penalty for the organization, but it may be the last gasp of a long-established board of directors and the organization’s longtime “face.” Before you write to express your irritation over that characterization, realize it’s always a reach between making allegations and proving them. Proven allegations aren’t an indication of persecution, they’re the proof of guilt. Until verdicts are returned, it’s essentially conjecture.
While the legal wrangling has occupied most of members’ attention, there are still annual meetings ahead in 2024. Set for Dallas, Texas, May 16-19, 2024, the annual meetings will still feature exhibits, seminars, and more, including the NRA-ILA’s Annual Leadership Forum.
That segues me directly into another calendar note. In observance of Veteran’s Day, we will not be publishing wires this Friday, November 10. If you have news to distribute in this week’s editions, it must get to us on Wednesday to make Thursday’s final weekly editions.
Speaking of notable calendar events…the NSSF’s “Adjusted” October 2023 National Instant Criminal Backgound Check System (NICS) was up 8.3 percent compared to October 2022’s numbers. The 2022 number, FYI, was up 11.4 percent from 2021.
Spotting a trend? You bet. October’s numbers represent a fifty-first consecutive month of more than one million background checks per month. The NSSF’s Mark Oliva says it demonstrates “the value Americans place on their Second Amendment right” - and the tragedy in Maine and the terrorist attacks in Israel likely motivated some buyers. Oliva says the “horrific attacks on Israel followed by the escalating hate speech toward Jewish Americans, coupled with the tragic murders in Maine, are reminders that every American has the right to legally purchase a firearm to provide for their own defense.”
Oliva’s observation likely isn’t being received well by the ATF’s director. During a discussion called “Gun Violence in America” Director Steven Dettelbach called for strict gun control. That’s a shift from the reluctance to express a position on gun ownership -specifically AR-style “Modern Sporting Rifles - during his Senate confirmation hearings. During the discussion, Dettelbach also said “the president says, and I agree, that we should consider and reinstate a ban on certain types of assault weapons” along with a call for universal background checks.
Last week there were also good news items for our Californian readers. A federal judge has blocked California’s law prohibiting gun shows at county fairs. That ruling by U.S. District Judge Mark Holcomb repeals the 2022 law that banned “any firearm, firearm precursor part, or ammunition” on property within the Orange County Fair. “California’s interest in stopping crimes committed with illegal weapons, as important as it is, cannot justify prohibiting the complete sale of lawful firearms at gun shows,” Judge Holcomb wrote in his opinion. The law is “more extensive than is necessary to serve that interest.”
And in Washington, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments for and against the federal bump stock ban. On Friday, the SCOTUS granted a certiorari petition regarding the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit’s ruling on the BATFE’s Final Rule that banned bump stocks. As has been pointed out, it’s not the only lower court ruling against the ATF’s course reversal on the issue. The Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit also struck down the federal ban in its ruling on Hardin v ATF.
It’s likely there are other surprises out there for all of us this week. And, as always, we’ll keep you posted.
— JIm Shepherd