Guest: Kelly Sampson of the Brady Center; Also: Biden, Trump clinch noms; Judge nixes 6 counts in Trump's GA conspiracy indictment...
By Brad Friedman on 3/13/2024, 6:50pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The most powerful pro-gun lobbying group in the nation --- along with its wildly corrupt leadership --- has finally been held to account for years of massive fraud. So what comes next for the NRA, for the firearms industry's ironclad death grip on the Republican Party, and for the continuing battle to enact popular gun safety reforms in the U.S.? [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

We've got some answers to those questions but, first up, a bit of news today...

Both the disgraced former President Donald Trump and the current President Joe Biden each notched the number of delegates needed in their respective parties to clinch the 2024 nominations for President as of Tuesday's primaries and caucuses in Georgia, Mississippi, Washington state, Hawaii and the Northern Mariana Islands. (And, of course, there was some trouble on Tuesday regarding GA's unverifiable, computerized touchscreen voting system.) Based on the results in each state last night, Biden is clearly favored by more of his party's primary voters than Trump. Though we have a few noteworthy observations today.

And, also in Georgia, where Trump and 18 co-conspirators are facing criminal indictment in Fulton County for their multiple failed attempts to steal the state's 2020 election, the judge overseeing the case tossed six of the 41 felony counts brought against, though he allowed 35 others to move forward. In his 9-page order [PDF] on Wednesday, Judge Scott McAfee wrote that Fulton County D.A. Fani Willis will be able refile those six charges, though she'll have to add additional specificity if she does. Refiling the charges would also likely further delay the state's currently scheduled August trial date. Of course, many court watchers are on pins and needles this week waiting for McAfee's ruling, expected by Friday, on whether Willis, accused by one of Trump's co-defendants of inappropriately hiring one of her prosecutors, will be allowed to remain on the case.

Then, we're joined by KELLY SAMPSON Senior Counsel at the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the nation's oldest gun violence prevention organization, to discuss the fate of the beleaguered National Rifle Association, the group that began as a non-profit gun safety organization 150 years ago in New York City, only to become the nation's most powerful firearms industry lobbying group, opposing any and all gun safety reforms.

Late last month, a New York jury determined the NRA's longtime leader, Wayne LaPierre, had unlawfully misallocated millions of dollars of member money for years on his extravagant personal lifestyle, which included private plane travel and exotic vacations for himself and his family, among with many other luxuries. He also authorized hundreds of millions of dollars in NRA contracts in exchange for free trips and access to a 108-foot superyacht. In addition, the jury also ruled that the NRA engaged in years of fraudulent tax filings and violated whistleblower protections under NY law. LaPierre, who resigned in disgrace on the eve of the trial late last year --- brought by state A.G. Letitia James --- was ordered to repay nearly $5.5 million to the NRA. The group had attempted, after James' filing, to seek federal bankruptcy protection, but was blocked after a federal court determined it was only doing so in hopes of moving the organization to Texas to avoid accountability in NY.

So, what now? "Wayne LaPierre is indicative of a particular type of corruption, taking advantage of people and basically grifting," Sampson explains today. "He's not concerned with people's safety. He's concerned with enriching himself. This is a win in terms of accountability for that."

But, she says, there are other pro-gun groups that are now filling the gaps left by the faltering NRA in blocking gun safety reforms at both the state and federal level, despite support from broad, bipartisan majorities of Americans --- if not from Republican lawmakers captured by the gun lobby. "There are organizations like the National Shooting Sports Foundation, or NSSF, which is the gun industry's almost corporate wing," she warns. "Regardless of what happens with the NRA, we still have to deal with the rhetoric, the false information, and the fact that, yes, there are some politicians who feel beholden to what the NRA wants."

We discuss the broad popularity of policies such as universal background checks for gun purchases, which GOP lawmakers have long stymied, as well as cases now before the corrupted U.S. Supreme Court which seek to block the ban on bumpstocks that turn semi-automatic weapons into machine guns, and on a federal law designed to help keep guns out of the hands of those under domestic violence restraining orders.

Also, Sampson discusses a number of landmark initiatives by the Biden-Harris Administration to address the nation's ever-worsening gun violence epidemic, including "the first White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention, which is really using the power of the Executive to have a 'whole of government' approach" to the continuing scourge.

There is much to discuss, as you may imagine, in our conversation today with Sampson, the Brady Center's Director of Racial Justice and co-host of their Red, Blue and Brady podcast. Happily, today's discussion does not take place, for a change, just hours after another high-profile gun massacre...


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