The current splintering of the NRA has its roots,The Washington Post reports, in the aftermath of the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre of 20 small children in Newtown, Connecticut.
There were leaders in the gun rights group who were horrified, “laid low by images of sobbing parents planning their children’s funerals rather than tucking presents under Christmas trees.” They believed that the organization shouldn’t take its usual loud and antagonistic stance against gun reform. “Several senior officials and longtime leaders thought the killing of children required the group to alter its normally defiant response to mass shootings and keep a low profile—at least in the immediate aftermath, said people familiar with internal discussions.” They believed that this tragedy was so horrific that Congress would be sure to respond with gun restrictions.
They clearly underestimated the fealty of Republicans in Congress to their worst instincts, embodied in NRA President Wayne LaPierre, who saw it as an opportunity to argue for more guns in schools and “who decided to go on the offensive.” While other NRA officials were questioning, “Are we doing the right thing here?” one former employee says, LaPierre went on offense. He held a press conference announcing his plan to arm school security guards. He debuted his new mantra: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
One of those who disagreed with the approach, reportedly, was longtime NRA lobbyist Christopher W. Cox. Cox resigned from the NRA last week, amid accusations that he has been part of a plot to get rid of LaPierre. He didn’t respond to the Post’s request for comment. And he clearly was on the losing side.