A former top executive at the National Rifle Association (NRA) argues in a new book that the U.S. should adopt universal background checks and so-called “red flag” laws, which allow police to confiscate guns from individuals a judge deems to be a threat to themselves or others.
On Thursday The New York Times reported that Josh Powell, the group’s former chief of staff, writes in “Inside the NRA” that while he doesn’t personally believe that universal background check laws would be effective in preventing criminals from obtaining guns, he believes the NRA is out of step with the majority of gun owners on the issue.
He also indicated support for laws allowing a judge to block individuals from owning or purchasing a gun if friends or relatives raise concerns to law enforcement “as long as there is a process” that “involves both medical doctors and psychiatrists, and some sort of bipartisan oversight,” according to the Times.
Such provisions have not yet passed in Congress and many state legislatures due to the NRA’s “toxic” rhetoric that poisons legitimate conversation on the issue of gun violence, Powell continues in the book.
“The N.R.A. fueled a toxic debate by appealing to the paranoia and darkest side of our members, in a way that has torn at the very fabric of America,” he wrote, according to the Times.
Powell was ousted from the organization in December, and NRA officials said last month that his upcoming memoir was an attempt to discredit the organization and salvage his own image. The NRA is currently facing a legal challenge from New York’s attorney general, who is seeking to break up the group and alleges that its leaders diverted millions from charitable causes for their own personal benefit.
Powell has made claims similar to the AG’s allegations in his book, writing that the NRA’s Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre grossly mismanaged the NRA’s funds.
“It’s not surprising Mr. Powell would try to save his failing career by peddling fiction about the NRA,” Carolyn Meadows, the NRA’s president, responded in August. “I doubt this is a book people will read, much less believe.”