Rights and Wrongs at the 139th NRA Annual Meeting

Rights and Wrongs at the 139th NRA Annual Meeting
By Jeff Knox


Manassas, VA –-(Ammoland.com)- The 139th NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits was held last weekend in Charlotte, North Carolina and it was a record-setter with over 70,000 in attendance, including three representatives of The Firearms Coalition, my brother Chris, sister Shan, and myself.

Due to scheduling conflicts and airline delays the three of us converged on Charlotte at about 4:30 Friday afternoon, just in time to get cleaned up for the Grass Roots North Carolina “Gala for Gun Rights and Second Amendment Symposium.” The event was held at the Marriott, Charlotte City Center and I was one of the speakers along with Joe Tartaro of GunWeek and the Second Amendment Foundation; John Lott, author of More Guns, Less Crime; US Senator Richard Burr; and Alan Gura, lead attorney in both the Heller and McDonald cases. GRNC was kind enough to allow Chris to set up a table in the back of the room where sales of his book, Neal Knox – The Gun Rights War, were brisk. Chris donated a portion of the proceeds to GRNC.

The event was a rousing success and an inspiration to all those lucky enough to attend, but we later found out that there was a problem. While we were celebrating progress in the battle to restore and protect the right to arms and discussing strategies for furthering that right, the hotel management was downstairs trampling on those rights and making criminals of many of the people in attendance as well as potentially hundreds of other hotel guests. The way they were doing this was by simply taping a piece of paper to the front door declaring that guns were not allowed on the premises. Under North Carolina law, carrying a firearm on a property which has been posted as “gun free” is a Class 2 misdemeanor.

The manager of the hotel ducked and dodged and dissembled when challenged about the sneak attack, but the bottom line remains that while the Marriott was welcoming our patronage – and our money – they were simultaneously thumbing their nose at us and placing us at risk from both criminals and authorities. Several of the “Gun Rights Examiners,” a collection of on-line journalists at www.Examiner.com, have joined Charlotte Gun Rights Examiner and President of Grass Roots North Carolina, Paul Valone, in calls for boycotts of Marriott hotels and a phone, mail, and email campaign to educate the chain’s management about their insulting and unreasonable actions.

Beyond that little bit of excitement, which is still playing out, the convention was pretty typical. In recent years the NRA has done more and more to involve politicians and celebrities while member participation in the actual business of their association has been reduced to little more than rubber-stamping staff and Board decisions and desires. All of the hard-won reforms enacted during the members’ revolt at Cincinnati in 1977 have been slowly done away with to the point that members barely have any voice in the organization at all any more. During this year’s members’ meeting the reports of officers ran long and the call for adjournment came early so if there were members wishing to ask questions, express concerns, or offer resolutions, they had no opportunity to do so.

Members do still vote for Board of Director candidates, but with so many candidates, so many eligible voters, and so little information about the candidates – with the staff and PR company controlling the publications containing the ballots – it has been clearly demonstrated that the current leadership can dictate their desires and there are enough “good sheep” to provide the votes needed to keep their “winning team” in total control.

The few votes needed to ensure that control should be a serious source of shame to every member. This year the association sent ballots to 1,574,096 members eligible to vote, but only 109,381 ballots were returned and only 105,040 were judged to be valid. That’s a valid return rate of less than 7% – from the oldest, most powerful civil rights organization in the country! NRA prides itself on its ability to turn out voters and shift the outcome of elections and yet they get less than 7% participation in Board of Director elections!?!

That is beyond appalling; it is downright scary.

The results of this year’s election turned out much as I’d expected, but there were a few surprises. As I had predicted, the celebrities and politicians mostly skated to easy victories and as I had hoped, the few incumbents I endorsed all won with comfortable margins. Several of the new candidates I had endorsed also made the cut and a couple I had thought shouldn’t have run and couldn’t win, Joaquin Jackson and Larry Craig did manage to retain their seats. Donn DiBiasio, the incumbent I most ardently opposed, did not make the cut, but he slipped back onto the Board for one more year by getting himself elected to the 76th Director position during the convention. That means he’ll probably take another shot at it next year. Rest assured I’ll have more candidate information and my picks posted early at www.GunVoter.org.

The Firearms Coalition is a loose-knit coalition of individual Second Amendment activists, clubs and civil rights organizations. Founded by Neal Knox in 1984, the organization provides support to grassroots activists in the form of education, analysis of current issues, and with a historical perspective of the gun rights movement. The Firearms Coalition is a project of Neal Knox Associates, Manassas, VA. Visit: www.FirearmsCoalition.org