Pete Brownell – On NRA DNA

Pete Bronwell is up for election to the 2016 NRA board of Directors. AmmoLand readers have asked for more feedback on what board member to vote for so we thought we would sit down with Pete for a short Q&A.

Pete Brownell
Pete Brownell – picture by Bill Konway
AmmoLand Gun News
AmmoLand Gun News

USA –  -( Hello Pete, can you tell AmmoLand’s readers why the NRA is so important to you?

Honestly, I was basically born an NRA member. Within just a couple weeks of my birth, my dad purchased a life membership for me.

The NRA really is a part of my DNA. My grandfather Bob, who founded Brownells, Inc. in 1939, was a contributing writer for The American Rifleman, now American Rifleman, and was always promoting the firearm culture and the values that go along with it.

Brownells founder, and Pete's grandfather, Bob Brownell in the 1950's.
Brownells founder, and Pete’s grandfather, Bob Brownell in the 1950’s.

In fact, Bob helped pioneer what I call the decentralization of gunsmithing. He helped turn what was regarded as an unofficial occupation or even a hobby – at that time – into a professional trade by making and selling products to gunsmiths who were located on small town streets, and not in firearm factories. For his work, he was recognized with the NRA’s Public Service Award in the 1980s.

Then, of course, my father Frank has played a critical role in the NRA for decades. He was essential in funding and founding what was initially called the NRA Youth Foundation, which later broadened itself into the NRA Foundation. The NRA Foundation is an immensely successful program that supports gun safety and education programs throughout the NRA. Actually, Frank just stepped down as the NRA Foundation’s Chairman last year. He’s also serves on the Board of the NRA’s Whittington Center in Raton, New Mexico. Most recently, Dad received NRA Publications’ Golden Bullseye Pioneer Award for his contributions to the NRA and the firearm industry.

The NRA is a huge part of my family. Having been around this organization my entire life, I’ve come to understand the importance of standing up for individual liberties. Of course, I want all law-abiding gun owners to maintain their individual rights, and to handle firearms in a safe and respectable way, but the NRA reaches far beyond guns.

The NRA is about protecting freedoms and the culture of independence. In the end, that’s why it’s important to me.

Pete Brownell talking with a student gunsmith at a recent Gunsmith Career Fair
Pete Brownell taking a time-out to talk with a student gunsmith at a recent Gunsmith Career Fair.

What are the key challenges facing the NRA in the next 10 years?

A key challenge for the NRA is the urbanization of America. That’s not to say there is anything wrong with living in our nation’s cities. It is, however, saying that traditional NRA members grew up in a rural setting and lived an outdoor lifestyle where shooting, hunting and fishing was the norm.

Today, we’re seeing a migration of the American populous to the cities, combined with the spread of urban areas. There are obviously far less opportunities in the cities to enjoy the traditional outdoor sporting activities. Furthermore, younger generations are growing up with parents who’ve never been exposed to those activities.

So, I’d say the real challenge is attracting young people through new programs designed to get them outdoors – or even indoors to shooting ranges, etc.

Pete Brownell with former Texas Governor Rick Perry, during his recent visit to Brownells. Inc.
Pete Brownell with former Texas Governor Rick Perry, during his recent visit to Brownells. Inc.

We also tend to face more resistance to firearms in the cities. So there’s certainly a significant education element involved in this challenge; education for both urban residents and the politicians who govern them. It shouldn’t matter where you live; every law-abiding American who is old enough to own and carry a firearm should be able to protect his or herself.

Another challenge is breaking through the rhetoric and owning the national conversation when it comes to firearm safety, education and training. Our ILA (Institute for Legislative Action) division has done great work in tackling the tough political issues that challenge Second Amendment rights. I’d like to see our NRA training and education programs continue to grow, as they have for 145 years. This will continue to show that the NRA is leading on all fronts when it comes to individual firearm ownership, civil liberties and public safety.

In your view, what is the NRA’s role in public safety?

First, let me say that protecting the public is the public’s responsibility. Don’t get me wrong, our nation’s law enforcement officers are doing incredible and dangerous work each and every day and for that I am beyond grateful. However, the police cannot be everywhere at every time.

Therefore, the NRA’s role in public safety is to ensure that law-abiding citizens maintain their rights to protect themselves and their families anywhere – at home, in the office, or out in public. This means we must continue for to push for a Shall-Issue requirement for those who wish to get a concealed carry permit in all 50 states.

It’s also means we continue to fight for Castle Doctrine legislation in all 50 states.

Once we have people’s rights secured, then we have to help them train and prepare themselves to handle situations.

Lastly, it’s critical that we as a society – not just the NRA – see to it that bad people are punished accordingly. Too many times gun crimes are committed and too many times offenders walk free. Moral of the story: we don’t need more laws; we need to enforce the ones already on the books.

What, specifically, will you contribute to the NRA Board? And, why should AmmoLand readers and vote for Pete Brownell?

I’ve been around gun owners, gunsmiths, media members, manufacturers, hunters, law enforcement officers, service members, politicians, business people and gun rights advocates all of my life. Of course, that means I’ve had plenty of exposure to gun rights opponents, too. That’s a lot of perspective over 40-plus years.

Pete and Frank Brownell spending a day hunting with Bob Redfern.
Pete and (Dad)Frank Brownell spending a day hunting with Bob Redfern.

All of that exposure has provided me with tremendous knowledge and wisdom that I can use to help guide and govern the NRA’s executive team. I think ultimately that’s my greatest and most unique value to the NRA board.

A vote for Pete Brownell is a vote for an NRA that seeks out opportunities to reach new members in new areas of the country, but keeps to our core values of championing the Second Amendment and individual freedoms and liberties of every American.

I am asking for your readers for their support; I ask them to vote Pete Brownell for NRA Board.