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Turmoil Among the NRA’s Top Ranks
NRA Annual Meeting: Amid Palace Intrigue, The President Vows To Be Second Amendment 'Champion'
The National Rifle Association’s (NRA) 76-member board convenes Monday in Indianapolis, a day after the 148th four-day NRA Annual Meeting concluded Sunday amid palace intrigue within the organization’s leadership, yet still resonating from Friday’s fiery guns-rights speech by President Donald Trump.
NRA officials announced Saturday that Oliver North had stepped down as the organization’s president with a resignation letter that said there is “a clear crisis” in NRA leadership.
A rift inside NRA leadership over allegations of financial misconduct pit NRA Chief Executive Wayne LaPierre against North in a very public feud.
LaPierre claimed in a letter to board members that he was being both pressured to give up his post and extorted by North, named president of the NRA last May.
According to The Wall Street Journal, LaPierre warned in his letter that Ackerman McQueen, the NRA’s largest advertising firm, was prepared to send a document to the group’s board at the direction of North that contained “a devastating account of our financial status, sexual harassment charges against a staff member, accusations of wardrobe expenses and excessive staff travel expenses.”
Despite the high-profile battle between LaPierre and North, which is likely to spill into Monday’s NRA Board meeting, the convention did offer highlights, most notably a fiery Friday speech by President Donald Trump, who vowed to fight for gun rights in addressing the NRA for the third straight year.
Trump said he was a "champion for the Second Amendment” and that gun rights are “under assault” during a speech frequently paused by ovation.
"But not while we're here,” Trump said to raucous applause. "You better get out there and vote, [the 2020 election] seems like it's a long ways away. It's not."
Trump announced he would withdraw the U.S. from the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty that the NRA and other civil rights groups have opposed since it was proposed under the Obama Administration in 2012, calling it “badly misguided.”
Trump told the NRA convention that he was officially revoking the United Sates’ status as a signatory of the treaty, which regulates international trade in conventional weapons, from small arms to battle tanks, combat aircraft and warships. Obama signed the pact in 2013 but it has never been ratified by Congress.
“Under my administration, we will never surrender American sovereignty to anyone,” Trump said. “We will never allow foreign diplomats to trample on your Second Amendment freedom. I hope you’re happy.”
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Wallethub Study Examines What U.S. States Most Benefit From Firearms Manufacturing
According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation [NSSF], in 2018, the firearms industry contributed more than $52 billion in economic activity to all 50 states and gun manufacturers employed nearly 150,000 people, who paid more than $6.82 billion in taxes.
According to a WalletHub.com report released this month, among all the states, Idaho’s economy is most impacted by the firearms manufacturing industry.
In 2018, the firearms industry contributed to nearly $1.2 billion in economic activity to Idaho, employing more than 3,600 people, according to the report. The state also ranked in the top five in terms of “gun-friendliness” and the prevalence of guns.
Idaho began ramping efforts to attract the firearms industry in 2008 by touting its low wages, gun-friendly culture, and business climate, according to the Idaho Business Review. Employment by the firearms industry in Idaho has grew 40 percent between 2012 and 2017.
The Wallethub.com study—which ranked all 50 states based on how the firearms industry contributed to the economic development of the state from jobs to sales, how prevalent guns were, and how far the state supported gun rights—found that Idaho was the state that was the most dependent on the gun industry.
Alaska came in second place, followed by South Dakota, Wyoming, and Arkansas.
"Most states in the top ten have state law immunity to the gun industry, which means that the state provides immunity from bringing lawsuits against certain gun industry defendants,” WalletHub,com analyst Jill Gonzalez told Yahoo Finance. “They also have more lenient age restrictions to purchase and possess firearms. Senators from the top ten states voted to either loosen gun restrictions or against a measure adding restrictions.”
New Jersey ranked last, followed by Rhode Island, New York, Massachusetts and Delaware.
“Another interesting takeaway from the study,” Yahoo Finance Writer Aarthi Swaminathan writes, “is that while Texas had the highest number of registered firearms at 637,612 in 2018, it was only ranked no. 22 on the list.”
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Colorado Supreme Court will Hear High-Cap Mag Ban Challenge
The Colorado Supreme Court will hear Rocky Mountain Gun Owners’ and the National Association for Gun Rights’ challenge of the state’s 2013 ban on “high-capacity” magazines in September.
According to Derek Draplin of Colorado Watchdog News, the court announced on Friday that it would hear the lawsuit filed by Rocky Mountain Gun Owners [RMGO] and the National Association for Gun Rights [NAFGR] in Denver County District Court seeking to overturn the law, which bans the sale or transfer of magazines that hold more than 15 rounds.
“There’s no doubt in our minds that the magazine ban is unconstitutional and that’s why we’ve been fighting against the law in the legislature and the courts,” RMGO executive director Dudley Brown said in a statement.
The law was adopted as an alleged anti-crime measure but, Brown said, crime has not gone down since the ban went into effect in 2013.
“We’re glad that the Colorado Supreme Court has decided to hear our case, and we hope that the Court will make the correct decision and overturn the 2013 law which we’ve been fighting against tooth and nail,” he said. “Law-abiding Coloradans deserve to have their rights restored, and the arbitrary ban on standard capacity magazines has done nothing to lower crime rates or keep Coloradans safe.”
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IN THE COURTS
Federal Appeals Court Upholds Massachusetts' 'Assault Weapons' Ban
On April 26, a federal appeals court upheld Massachusetts’ “assault weapons” ban, saying the law's impact to Second Amendment self-defense rights is "minimal.”
In doing so, the appellate court tossed out a challenge by the Gun Owners Action League of Massachusetts [GOAL-M], which contended that Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s 2016 broadened classifications of “assault weapons” banned under 1998 state law to include "copies or duplicates" of AR-15s and other semi-automatic weapons is unconstitutional.
But the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed.
"This case concerns an issue of paramount importance,” the ruling reads. “In the wake of increasingly frequent acts of mass violence committed with semiautomatic assault weapons and [large-capacity magazines], the interests of state and local governments in regulating the possession and use of such weapons are entitled to great weight."
GOAL-M and firearms retailers argued in the lawsuit that the AR-15 is not fully automatic, so it should not be classified as a “military-style assault weapon.”
Last year, a federal judge threw out the lawsuit, rejecting claims that it violated Second Amendment rights.
Healey praised the ruling on Twitter, calling it "a victory for families" and "a defeat for the gun lobby."
Democratic Presidential candidate and Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren praised the ruling and lauded Healey for her "courageous work to stand up to the gun lobby & keep weapons of war off our streets."
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