One of the NRA’s favorite tropes is that only a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun. But what happens when the NRA’s top lawyer—an engineer of that very narrative—turns out to be the latter?
Dave Gilson of Mother Jones has just released an extensive investigative report uncovering the forgotten history of Robert Dowult, the General Counsel of the NRA, who was convicted of murder at age 19 and sentenced to life in prison. Six years into his prison sentence, however, Dowult was released due to a mishandled investigation. His case was thrown out, he became a promising lawyer and then rose through the ranks of the NRA.
Although Dowult’s exact role in the murder of Anna Marie Yocum in 1963 remains unclear, his role in the rise of the NRA over the past three decades has been instrumental. “As the NRA’s top lawyer, he has been a key architect of the gun lobby’s campaign to define the legal interpretation of the Second Amendment,” writes Gilson. Dowult’s legal input was critical to Supreme Court cases such as Heller and McDonald.
While he’s had tremendous influence on gun policy, Dowult has tried to stay inconspicuous throughout his tenure at the NRA. But it’s now clear that his adamant defense of gun rights is not unrelated to his own murky history with firearms. And with the case of Yocum’s death still open and unsolved, we may soon learn more about this powerful man’s concerning past.
Read Mother Jones’ entire investigative report here.