In a letter to the National Rifle Association that was also forwarded to KSDK Channel 5 News reporter Leisa Zigman, one of the heirs to the Anhesuer-Busch fortune took a surprising stand against the powerful gun-rights organization.
Adolphus Busch IV, eldest son of August "Gussie" Busch Jr., was apparently reacting to the Senate's failure to move forward a slew of gun-control measures earlier this week that would have included expanded background checks, a ban on assault weapons and a ban on high-capacity magazines. The NRA reportedly spent $500,000 in a single day on advertisements opposing the reform and pressuring senators to vote "no."
"This letter shall serve as formal resignation of my life membership in the NRA," Busch wrote yesterday. "I ask that you immediately remove my name from your membership roles [sic] and provide me an acknowledgement of this action."
Not only has Busch, a conservationist and avid hunter who lives in St. Charles, been a member of the NRA his whole life, he chairs an organization called the Great Rivers Habitat Alliance that has long partnered with the NRA. The NRA is listed as one of the group's sponsors and the NRA's legislative action website touts Busch's group as a resource. Considering the strength of Busch's rebuke of the NRA yesterday, that relationship may have curdled for good.
Here's the full text of Busch's letter, which was first sent to KSDK and was printed in full on the Post-Dispatch's website (emphasis ours):
April 18, 2013
Mr. David A. Keene President National Rifle Association of America 11250 Waples Mill Road Fairfax, VA 22030
This letter shall serve as formal resignation of my life membership in the NRA. I ask that you immediately remove my name from your membership roles [sic] and provide me an acknowledgement of this action.
As most in your organization would admit, I have historically been a staunch defender of the NRA purpose and tradition in representing the interests of gun owners. I have personally devoted countless financial resources and time to nurture an intelligent environmental policy that provided for the proud tradition of personal hunting for generations to come.
It disturbs me greatly to see this rigid new direction of the NRA. As a starting point, one only has to ask why the NRA reversed its original position on background checks. Was it not the NRA position to support background checks when Mr. LaPierre himself stated in 1999 that NRA saw checks as "reasonable"? Furthermore, I fail to see how the NRA can disregard the overwhelming will of its members who see background checks as reasonable. In fact, according to a Johns Hopkins University study, 74% say they support background checks.
I am simply unable to comprehend how assault weapons and large capacity magazines have a role in your vision. The NRA I see today has undermined the values upon which it was established. Your current strategic focus places a priority on the needs of gun and ammunition manufacturers while disregarding the opinions of your 4 million individual members.
One only has to look at the makeup of the 75-member board of directors, dominated by manufacturing interests, to confirm my point. The NRA appears to have evolved into the lobby for gun and ammunition manufacturers rather than gun owners.
In closing I find it important to extend my personal thanks to Chris Cox and David Lehman for their support of so many important environmental issues. I will miss that level of friendship and support, but must take this action based upon my personal feelings toward the distorted values I see emerging within the NRA.
Adolphus A. Busch, IV