cover image Misfire: Inside the Downfall of the NRA

Misfire: Inside the Downfall of the NRA

Tim Mak. Dutton, $29 (384p) ISBN 978-1-524746-45-2

NPR reporter Mak debuts with a disturbing look into the recent history of the National Rifle Association. He notes that the organization was founded in 1871 to promote marksmanship and supported the regulation of firearms until 1977, when activists staged a revolt at the group’s annual meeting and replaced the existing leadership “with a much more aggressive regime focused on fighting gun control laws.” Soon thereafter, the NRA began working with the advertising firm Ackerman McQueen, a partnership that helped turn the gun lobby into “an identity, a way of living, a secular religion,” but eventually led to internal discord over allegations of corruption by CEO Wayne LaPierre and a 2020 lawsuit filed by New York state attorney general Letitia James seeking to dissolve the organization for misappropriating funds. Mak presents a particularly damaging portrait of LaPierre, “a remarkably weak-willed man” whose tone-deaf responses to school shootings brought intense scrutiny of the NRA. He also reveals that the group provided a lifeline to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in the wake of the Access Hollywood tape scandal, and that Russian agents have used the NRA to gain access to Republican political circles. The book’s convoluted timeline is somewhat difficult to follow, but Mak’s access to NRA insiders impresses. Readers will be astonished by the levels of corruption and incompetence this sweeping investigation uncovers. (Nov.)