Nick McNamara, owner of a lodge and hunting guide business in St. Lawrence County, said the National Rifle Association is the only real voice for responsible gun owners, coming after a lawsuit seeking to dissolve the organization was filed by the state attorney general this week.
Mr. McNamara owns Basswood Lodge in Canton. The outfitter and lodge has been guiding hunting trips for more than 20 years, and he has owned it for eight.
Every year Mr. McNamara attends the Great American Outdoors Show, a nine-day event put on by the NRA, showcasing not only guns but just about anything to do with the outdoors.
At last year’s show, Mr. McNamara said he spoke with the executive vice president of the NRA, Wayne LaPierre. During their conversation, the vice president referenced a possible lawsuit coming by the attorney general, indicating that he had an idea it would be coming.
“Turns out he was right,” he said.
Attorney General Letitia A. James filed the civil suit after an 18-month investigation, alleging leaders of the NRA misused funds. The 169-page lawsuit claims Mr. LaPierre, 70, used NRA funds for personal expenditures, including hair and makeup for his wife, eight trips for his family to the Bahamas over three years and a $17 million post-employment contract for himself. The lawsuit also names Corporate Secretary and General Counsel John Frazer, retired Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer Wilson “Woody” H. Phillips, and Mr. LaPierre’s former Chief of Staff Joshua L. Powell.
Mr. McNamara said he doesn’t take the lawsuit seriously — he thinks it’s a joke, but he does take the notion of ending the NRA seriously.
“Without the NRA, we wouldn’t have a voice,” he said. “The NRA is our only real voice.”
The NRA is about protecting the Second Amendment for safe, law-abiding gun owners, he said. “Every time we give them an inch, they’re going to keep pushing,” Mr. McNamara said. “And right now, with the divisiveness in this country, the next 20 years are going to be interesting.”
Peter Crump, who owns Pete’s Guns and Sporting Goods in Carthage, said the NRA isn’t perfect, but that doesn’t mean the solution is dissolving it.
“The NRA as a whole has dabbled in things they never should have been involved with,” he said. “It should restructure and get back to the basics, but restructuring doesn’t mean it’s not illegal activity.”
Mr. Crump said the lawsuit is a politically-charged move by the Democratic Party.
“They have taken it to a monetary situation so they can fabricate some kind of guilt out of nothing,” he said. “She (Ms. James) is trying to fulfill a campaign promise that she would take down the NRA. That’s all this is.”