Lawyers Argue NRA and Members Are the Victims

As the civil trial against Wayne LaPierre continues, no one will be surprised to learn that many people can’t really differentiate between LaPierre and the NRA itself.

The media has leaned into this for years and, to be fair, LaPierre has been one of the faces of the organization for quite some time.

Now, as the civil trial continues, attorneys for the NRA are trying to get one very important thing across: Not only is the organization not responsible for LaPierre’s alleged actions, they and their membership are actually the victims.

A National Rifle Association lawyer acknowledged in court Tuesday that some former executives and outside vendors may have ripped off the influential gun rights group with lavish spending and self-dealing.
But, in an opening statement at a New York civil trial scrutinizing the organization’s leadership and finances, Sarah Rogers questioned why the NRA is being forced to defend itself when it’s also a victim and could end up reaping millions of dollars in restitution.
“There can be no question that some individuals, some executives — an ad agency, a travel agent — betrayed (the NRA’s) mission,” Rogers told jurors in the first of several opening statements by lawyers representing the NRA and defendants including its longtime head, Wayne LaPierre, who is resigning Jan. 31.
“The one question is: Why the NRA, the victim, is a defendant in this case?” Rogers asked.
New York Attorney General Letitia James sued the NRA, LaPierre and two of his top lieutenants, in 2020, accusing them of violating the trust of the nonprofit charity’s 5 million members by spending tens of millions of dollars raised through dues and other means on extravagant, unnecessary expenses.
One quirk of the case is that while the NRA is a defendant, the Democratic attorney general is seeking punishment that includes requiring that LaPierre and the two other men pay the organization back.

LaPierre’s attorney obviously defended him, and we’ll see how the trial shakes out, but if the allegations are in fact true, then Rogers is completely correct. The NRA is a victim, as are its millions of members, because they were the ones essentially defrauded by LaPierre and his alleged cronies.

James is suing the NRA simply because she wants to punish the organization simply for daring to disagree with her and other anti-gun voices. Money spent defending themselves from this is money that can’t be used to advocate for gun rights.

Yet even she seems to realize that while she has them as a defendant, the organization really is the victim here.

Does that mean the ones in charge are blameless?

Assuming the allegations are correct, the NRA somehow allowed itself into a position where someone could take advantage of it like this. There should have been measures in place to prevent anyone from spending like that and wasting the organization’s money in such a way.

But we don’t punish victims for simply allowing themselves to be taken advantage of.

The flip side here is that some will probably see this as the NRA throwing LaPierre under the bus despite years of service to the organization. I can understand where they’re coming from, too. After all, they’re putting the blame on him (at least to some degree) as he’s on his way out the door.

If the allegations are accurate, though–and while it’s entirely likely they are, they’re still just allegations–then why would the NRA defend the man who essentially took advantage of it? People who defend their abusers have a pathological problem and that wouldn’t change if it’s a group versus an individual.

Granted, if the allegations are unfounded, a lot of people are going to owe LaPierre an apology. Chief among those would be Letitia James, though I doubt the New York attorney general is even capable of uttering such a thing.

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