by Allan D. Cors, President, National Rifle Association
Editors Note : Below is a message from Allan Cors, President of the National Rifle Association. In addition to the election for the Board of Directors, you will also have the opportunity to vote on changes to the bylaws. Please take the time to review and vote on these important changes modernizing the bylaws for your National Rifle Association.
Fairfax, VA – -(Ammoland.com)- If you’re a voting member of the National Rifle Association, you’ll soon receive your ballot for this year’s NRA elections.
As usual, you’ll have the chance to vote for candidates to fill one-third of the NRA Board’s 75 seats (and, sadly, one additional vacancy due to the death of Board member Buster Bachhuber). But you’ll also have the opportunity to vote on a comprehensive package of important NRA bylaw amendments that have been unanimously recommended by the NRA Board.
These proposals deserve your support and your “YES” vote.
To understand the importance of the proposed amendments, a little history is in order. In 1977, NRA members who wanted to ensure that the NRA would be an effective force in the fight for the Second Amendment, not just another gun club, took action at the NRA’s Annual Meeting of Members in my hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio.
In an epic meeting that lasted into the wee hours of the morning, we adopted a series of bylaw amendments that strengthened the members’ voice in the Association.
The centerpiece of the Cincinnati changes is a petition process that allows individuals to qualify as candidates for the NRA board by gathering signatures from 250 of their fellow members. The petition process has played a critical role in bringing fresh voices to the leadership of the NRA, and in making it the potent political force that it remains today. Also in Cincinnati, the members voted for a process under which some member-passed bylaw provisions are considered so important that they can only be changed by a later vote of the members – which is why these amendments are being submitted for your approval.
The following year, NRA members voted to further strengthen their role in the Association by creating a recall process. Similar to laws in many states, the NRA Bylaws now allow for a member petition, hearing, and vote to remove one or more officers or board members before the expiration of their terms in office.
A few years later, in 1985, another amendment enhanced member participation by allowing the Bylaws to be amended by mail—not just by the small minority with the time, money and commitment to attend the Annual Meeting of Members.
However, the old provision allowing amendments at the Members’ Meeting was also kept on the books.
I’m proud of my role in fighting for the reforms that started in Cincinnati, and they have been important in strengthening the role of NRA members in guiding our Association. But nearly 40 years have passed. We are due for some updates.
For starters, the NRA has grown enormously, and the petition requirements established in the 1970s haven’t kept pace with that growth, or with modern communications technology. Together, these developments may leave our Association vulnerable to the few, while not protecting the voices of the many.
Let’s look at the numbers. In 1977, when the members at Cincinnati voted to require 250 signatures for a candidate petition, the NRA had only one million members, and only about 200,000 voting members. And to gather signatures, candidates had to go out looking for them personally, at gun shows, club meetings, and competitions.
Today, we have five million members, with nearly half of them eligible to vote in our 2017 elections – and Internet forums and social media have made it far easier to gather signatures on both candidate and recall petitions.
The Board’s recommended package of bylaw amendments offers the same solution to both of these situations: a change to a percentage-based system, in which signature requirements are based on the number of valid ballots cast in the previous board election. It’s the same type of system used in many states for qualifying ballot initiatives, and will keep the signature requirements in sync with the NRA’s growth as we head toward six, eight, or 10 million members.
The Board also recommends petition thresholds that would increase the signature requirements based on typical turnout. The requirement would be somewhat higher for candidate petitions (at 0.5 percent of the previous board election vote), and significantly higher for recall petitions (at 5 percent of the previous vote). The reason for the difference is that a recall petition is an extreme measure that shouldn’t be undertaken lightly. After all, a successful recall can undo the members’ vote for a director, or the elected Board’s vote for an officer – even though the person targeted could be removed by ordinary means in one to three years, depending on his or her office.
(It’s also worth remembering that the NRA Bylaws already have a process for ethics complaints, which can be carried out faster and cheaper than the six-figure cost of holding a recall election.)
In addition, since the creation of the recall petition process in 1978, only one recall petition has been put to a member vote. That campaign – just last year – was fought hard and fairly, and although it was unsuccessful, it exposed a number of concerns about the administrative procedure and basic fairness of the current recall process. The proposed bylaw changes would address those issues by allowing the targeted individual, or the NRA itself, to seek dismissal of a future petition that might be frivolous, malicious, or disruptive, with fair appeals of those decisions by both sides.
Finally, the proposal would repeal the outdated process for bylaw amendments at the Members’ Meeting, specifying instead that all bylaw amendments voted on by the members could only be decided by mail ballot. Since 1985, this is the only way the members have actually voted on bylaw amendments – and it’s much fairer to the overwhelming majority of NRA members, who deserve a full voice in our Association regardless of their ability to travel.
On November 8 2016, NRA members and millions of other concerned Americans voted to preserve and restore freedom in America. But if you’re a voting member of the NRA, your work isn’t done, because these bylaw amendments are critically important for the long-term health of the organization. Please watch for your February issue of the NRA magazines (or for your first-class ballot mailing, if you don’t get a magazine); study the proposals carefully; and join me and your NRA Board in voting “YES” on the bylaw amendments.
Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the “lobbying” arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Visit: www.nra.org