There's a shake-up happening within the National Rifle Association (NRA). According to multiple reports, NRA president Oliver North announced on Saturday, April 27 that he will not seek a second term as the leader of the gun rights group. Elite Daily reached out to the NRA for comment on his resignation, but did not hear back by the time of publication. It's a move that people can't stop talking about, from anti-gun-violence activists to school-shooting survivors, and many of the tweets about Oliver North resigning as NRA president are going in about how this turmoil could be a bad sign for gun rights organization.
But first, let's talk more about North's resignation, which comes amid a reported internal struggle over the direction of the NRA. North is widely known as the prominent figure of the 1986 Iran-contra affair (He was convicted of "destroying government documents, accepting an illegal gratuity, and aiding and abetting in the obstruction of Congress" in 1989 but had them overturned two years later in 1991, per The New York Times). Since then, he's had close to ties to the NRA but had been apparently having some issues with NRA CEO and Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, according to an April 26 report from The New York Times. LaPierre reportedly wrote in a letter to the NRA, which was obtained by the Times, that North had been extorting him, accusing North of trying to force his resignation over allegations of financial misdeeds. North, on the other hand, said he had the NRA's "best interests" in mind and was creating a crisis committee to look into the NRA's financial matters, per The Hill. The NRA did not respond to Elite Daily's request for comment on LaPierre's letter.
But something happened between then and April 27. That morning, NRA first vice president Richard Childress took the stage at the NRA annual meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana, where he revealed that North, who has spent more than two decades serving on the board and was installed as president in May 2018, would not be returning to his post. He read a letter from North that said in part, "Please know I hoped to be with you today as NRA president endorsed for reelection. I’m now informed that that will not happen." The NRA did not immediately respond to Elite Daily's request for comment on North's letter and his allegations of the NRA reportedly mishandling finances.
According to The New York Times, New York attorney general Letitia James sent letters to the NRA on Friday, April 26, instructing the group and its "affiliated entities" to "preserve relevant financial records." Per NYT, a lawyer for the NRA confirmed the investigation into the organization's tax-exempt status, and on Saturday, April 27, William A. Brewer III, outside counsel for the NRA, said in a statement:
The NRA will fully cooperate with any inquiry into its finances. The NRA is prepared for this, and has full confidence in its accounting practices and commitment to good governance.
The New York Attorney General's office did not respond to Elite Daily's inquiry regarding the investigation.
This is all happening at a pretty vulnerable time. According to the Times, NRA donations have dropped and the group has become a target of the "well-financed" gun control movement, which is the result of a series of school shootings. The NRA did not immediately respond to Elite Daily's request for comment on the reports of lower donation numbers. Three of the five deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history have happened in the past three years alone, per CNN, and the United States Naval Postgraduate School found that 2018 saw a record-breaking number of school shootings, per Vox. As a result, gun control advocates have been pushing for tighter gun legislation, including universal background checks, but the NRA has said that the problem isn't guns, instead placing blame on things like mental health, school security, and video games, per The Associated Press.
To some internet users, it's almost like the NRA is imploding, and these tweets about North's resignation seem to see nothing but more trouble ahead. And considering the organization's response to mass shootings, it looks like those affected by the deadly massacres aren't too sad to see the reported trouble for the organization.
Survivors of the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on Feb. 14, 2018 are front and center.
Former student Emma Gonzalez seemed to praise the resignation.
Her old classmate David Hogg also weighed on the news.
Jaclyn Corin, another survivor of the Parkland shooting and an organizer of March For Our Lives, a gun reform movement born out of the tragedy, tweeted that the resignation is the "beginning of the end."
"#ByeByeNRA," she added.
And Fred Guttenberg, who lost his 14-year-old daughter Jaime in the shooting, slammed what he called "nasty, dishonest behavior" by the NRA.
The tweets are seriously going in.
"What a train wreck of an organization," one person wrote.
Not all of the tweets are striking the same tone, though. Some are wondering what must be reportedly going wrong internally for North to feel the need to resign.
Political commentator Bakari Sellers tweeted, "If Oliver North believes your organization is dysfunctional....whoa."
And others... well, not so much.
Some people brought out the sarcasm, extending their "thoughts and prayers" to North. (The NRA has often used those words in response to gun violence, which has earned it strong criticism.)
"Oh how sad, the @NRA is imploding. Send your thoughts and prayers," teased activist and author Amy Siskind.
It's unclear what happens from here, and the NRA did not immediately return Elite Daily's request for comment on the subject. So we'll just have to see how this continues to play out.