The NRA is dead, and it’s going to be an ugly death

Op-Ed: D.A. Gascón: Yes, I’m ‘with the Blacks’

By DAVID MOSES, Special to the New York Times

Published: December 29, 2004

TOMORROW will be the day of reckoning for the National Rifle Association, of all American organizations. When it comes to defending life and liberty in the United States, the NRA and its chief lobbyist, the late Jack Quinn, are an endangered species.

Mr. Quinn died in May 2003, four months before the shooting that opened the new year by killing 58 people and wounded hundreds more at the Virginia Tech University. A federal appeals court ruled that Virginia Tech had acted legally and a federal district court declared that the NRA’s challenge to the shooting was legally frivolous.

For the first time, the NRA, at least formally, is now being prosecuted for a terrorist act. And it was forced to take a hit on its lobbying efforts.

”The NRA is dead. And it’s going to be an ugly death,” John D. H. Henry Jr., the attorney who defended Virginia Tech plaintiffs in the NRA’s lawsuit against the organization, said shortly after the shooting. ”Jack Quinn was right: When you kill and maim and wound people to advance your cause, you are a terrorist.”

I spoke with Mr. Henry on Friday to see whether he was right. He is in his eighties and a retired lawyer from Boston. I came to him in late November to talk about the NRA and gun issues.

Mr. Henry was born in Boston but grew up in New York and graduated from Harvard. He has been a gun control advocate since the early 1970s, during the height of the assault weapons ban and a decade of gun control campaigns.

Mr. Quinn, as he was known, was one of the most popular and influential lobbyists in America. He was known as a man of action, a man who had mastered almost any legislative maneuver. His success came at a time when there were few national gun control advocates with Mr. Quinn’s skills. As he recalled in a biography written for

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