NRA, Now More than Ever!

By Jeff Knox : Opinion

I am the Gun Lobby
NRA, Now More than Ever!
Jeff Knox
Jeff Knox

Buckeye, AZ –-( Whether you like it or not, the National Rifle Association is absolutely our most important defender of our constitutional right to arms, and you need to be a member.

Many of us are angry with the NRA for the foolish statement put out by Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox in response to the atrocity in Las Vegas, and others are angry with me for publicly criticizing that foolish statement, and calling on the NRA Board of Directors to repudiate it.

Strategy disagreements aside, NRA is the big dog of the gun rights fight.  Without them we cannot win, and people who are not members have very little influence with the organization.

I began purchasing a Life Membership in NRA with my first check out of Army Basic Training back in 1978.  Even though my father was the Executive Director of NRA-ILA at the time, and even though I was only a couple of months too old to get in at the half-price, Junior rate, I got no discount or special pricing.  I’ve never regretted that decision, and I certainly don’t regret it now.

For most of the past century the NRA has suffered from leadership that was too often out of touch with the members.  Originally the organization’s leaders were former military officers, including General Ulysses S. Grant.  That tradition continued through most of NRA’s history.  NRA staff once wryly called the NRA Board the “Colonels’ Club.”  Retired military officers, and more recently, retired law enforcement chiefs filled key positions at the head table, and among paid staff.  While military officers and career bureaucrats often have a good grasp on how things work in the nation’s capitol, they are also conditioned to follow orders from politicians and higher-ups within the Executive Branch.

That’s been an ongoing problem.

Many years ago, before the Annual Meeting became such a big deal, the meetings were always held in Washington, D.C. close to headquarters.  It was not unusual for NRA members to turn the pilgrimage to the meeting into a family vacation, often taking the opportunity to do some sightseeing, and also to stop in and visit their congressional delegation.  This casual grassroots involvement became so popular among the members, that NRA leaders began hearing complaints from politicians about their active lobbying efforts.  Distraught that their organization was being accused of trying to influence politicians, NRA leaders decided it would be better to hold the Annual Meeting of Members in locations other than the nation’s capitol.  So began the current tradition of moving the event around the country each year – and staying out of Washington.

By 1975, NRA leaders were so determined to avoid being called “the gun lobby,” that they made plans to sell their Washington headquarters and move the offices to Colorado Springs.  That plan was quashed by members at the Annual Meeting in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1977, where an empowered membership exercised its authority under the law to direct their Association.  The assembled members provided new ways to govern the organization and put a new leadership team in place.  Soon after that night, newly-elected Executive Vice President Harlon Carter told Neal Knox, one of the leaders of the revolt, that the losing side was already working to undo what was accomplished.  In the 40 years since, most of the reforms of Cincinnati have disappeared, and the legal openings that allowed the membership revolt have been nailed shut.

The current NRA leadership now embraces the “gun lobby” label, but it does so because they are serving a market.  Today’s NRA does not exist primarily to defend the Second Amendment.  It is primarily a fundraising operation that has found it can monetize defense of the Second Amendment.  Paid NRA staff members take home million-dollar paychecks, and key vendors, notably its advertising and public relations firms, walk away with even more.

If you are angry with something NRA or its executives have done, withholding funds that you might have contributed is very reasonable, and can make a difference.

But canceling, or choosing not to renew your membership, is self-defeating.  We need you in the NRA.

We need your vote in NRA elections, and we need you to bolster the total membership numbers, to garner more influence with your elected politicians.  If you are an Annual Member, and let your membership lapse, that means you won’t be eligible to vote in NRA elections for another 5 years, unless you pony up for a Life Membership.  Realistically, $40 a year is not much, especially considering the potential return on that investment.

If you want to influence the NRA’s actions, but want to minimize how much of your money goes into the pockets of NRA executives and vendors, the best deal is to purchase a discounted Life Membership at an NRA Annual Meeting.  It’s not uncommon for them to offer Life Member packages with added perks at well below half-price at the Annual Meeting.  You can sign up for a payment plan, and once you have your Life Membership, you don’t have to ever give the NRA another dime, but you have a voice for life.

You can also give directly to the NRA-ILA which operates separate from NRAHQ and their Advertising and Marketing Division. All money going to NRA-ILA is use for political efforts.

The Annual Meeting and Exhibits will be held next year in Dallas, and the following year it is scheduled to be in Indianapolis, then Nashville, then Houston.  Start planning now to attend the one closest to you, and start putting a couple of bucks a day in a jar so you’ll have the cash to become a permanent NRA Voting Member.

The only way we’ll ever get NRA on the right track – and keep it there – is by having a strong majority of dedicated rights supporters willing and able to vote in NRA elections, so we can get the best possible candidates elected as directors, and the best people leading the staff.

NRA absolutely has some serious flaws, and gun owners are facing some very serious challenges, but the answer is not to abandon our most powerful asset.  Instead we must take control and steer it in the right direction.  We can only do that from the inside, as card-carrying members.

AmmoLand Join the NRA Banner
AmmoLand says Join the NRA

There are few people in the world with a more thorough knowledge of the NRA and its shortcomings than we Knoxes.  We’ve certainly had our issues with NRA leadership, and we’ve never been shy about confronting those disagreements when and where appropriate, but there are also few who have worked as hard as we have to build up the organization and move it toward a principled defense of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  That’s why we urge all gun owners to join the NRA, renew your membership, and if you can, upgrade to Life Membership, then get active and involved in NRA politics.  Elect directors who will stand up to the tests and move the organization forward, then lobby those directors to keep the staff in line and working for all of our rights.

Our friends over at the Gun Collective news site have developed a tool for NRA members to reach out to their directors.  Just go to and enter your member information to send messages to your NRA Board of Directors.  We’ve been asking the NRA to create a service like this for at least 10 years, and finally it’s being offered, not by NRA, but by a group of independent members.  Take advantage of it.  Stay in the fight, and lobby your elected NRA representatives, just as you would lobby Congress.

Your rights are under fire.  Now more than ever, you need to be a member of the NRA.

Neal Knox - The Gun Rights War
Neal Knox – The Gun Rights War

About Jeff Knox:

Jeff Knox is a second-generation political activist and director of The Firearms Coalition. His father Neal Knox led many of the early gun rights battles for your right to keep and bear arms. Read Neal Knox – The Gun Rights War.

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 has offices in Buckeye, Arizona and Manassas, VA. Visit:

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American Patriot

The NRA is starting to get way too Political internally witch translates into “Money” however they can get it regardless who it hurts.
All I can say is Be Careful while you still have a base that’s still following & supporting because Once you get stabbed in the back
Trust takes a very Long time to reaquire!


I will remain a member of the NRA for now, but I have to agree with most of these remarks. I remember when the NRA announced some concession on Obamacare which prompted conservative talk radio host Lars Larson to relinquish his NRA lifetime membership. That didn’t affect the 2A, but Obamacare was unconstitutional. Now agreeing with the left to ban bump stocks because of one incident, again puts the NRA in agreement with the left’s anti-2A crowd. The NRA does need to listen to their membership’s wishes, or they will go the way of the MSM.

James Andrews

Good post Aardvark…..


I’m anra member and GOAand JPFO (not Jewish myself) but agree with their strong shall not be infringed stance. Frank is right those four words need to be a priority and enforced by all 2A organizations. Just think if the laws and regulations placed on gun owners were placed on car owners- cars maiming and killing scores and scores of people every month,year. Not the drivers ;but the cars just as the blame is always shifted from the criminal to the tool by the media and devilrats wanting to disarm the country, destroy the 2nd amendment as a start to… Read more »

Dale Single

I have been considerating recending my life membership… the GOA has been a better org. to hold our rights intact, and closer to the founders ideals. NRA not so much!!!!!!!!!

James Andrews

I am not a life member, but I am a member……starting to agree with you! The NRA is getting weak, instead of standing their ground for us.


While I agree the NRA does a lot of good things, but defending our right to keep and bear arms is not one of them. Oh BTW we don’t have Constitutional “rights” (that is an ignorant statement) we have Constitutionally protected rights. Our rights come from our Creator. The latest cave by the NRA “Leadership” to ask the ATF (which BTW does not exist Constitutionally) to have another look at Bump Stocks wrongly assumes FedGov has the authority to so. The NRA has a long history of compromising and going along with and supporting Unconstitutional Gun Control, starting with the… Read more »

James Higginbotham

you’re right Tim.

James Andrews

Good post Tim!

Frank Clarke

(a) NRA leadership has neutered the power of the membership to effect change
(b) Join NRA so you can vote in their elections

This is your sales pitch for membership?



I agree the NRA is the best we have working for us today, but they are more interested in fund raising on the back of 2A issues than restoring 2A rights. I think its healthy that we have 2 serious organizations working for us and I am liking the GOA. The numbers I hear thrown around say 3-5% of firearm owners have joined the NRA. If we could get another 3-5% to join the GOA we would have some serious muscle in this fight. I know many people are turned off with Wayne in the NRA, their non stop fund… Read more »

Green Mtn. Boy

There needs to be a wholesale change of leadership and staff at the NRA headquarters,drain the Virginia headquarters swamp.
For Mr. Wayne LaChamberlin/Mr.Cox to have even contemplated of taking the stand,making the statement they did on Bump Fire stocks,supposedly on behalf of NRA members proves there is a disconnect with there management/care taking of the organization.

I’m tired of supporting gun control by subsidizing the NRA by selling members Constitutional rights cheaply.
From now on all of my money will go to Gun Owners of America.

Wild Bill

I think that Ammoland’s program is still not refreshing. I am not able to read the comments from our erudite, knowledgeable, and thoughtful assemblage.

joe martin

I cannot support an organization that operates at the top level like some Wall Street corporation where the money is squandered on executive salaries (millions per person) instead of being used to support and defend the 2nd Amendment. Wayne LaPierre apparently has his job for life and runs the NRA like his private fiefdom and getting richer every year. Fire his ass, and I guarantee the membership will multiply.


I must agree to disagree. NRA CEO making more than 5 million dollars a year yet I still get these emails crying for more money. I am reminded of Saturday morning wrestling filled with bluster and fanfare all the while the game is rigged. The making of back room deals were we give up more than we gain is getting old. Old saying: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”

Wild Bill

@Rocky, You get what you pay for. Wayne LaPierre is directly responsible for the defeat of Hillary Clinton. Rinos are dropping out like dead flies. We have a real chance at sending uncorrupted nonparty favorite Repubs to the general elections. The dems, still spouting gun control, are spiraling down. All attributable to LaPierre and the NRA. I would do his job, at the NRA, for a dollar a year, but you will not get the same results.


5 million a year? I don’t know if that’s right but why does the ceo need to make that kind of money.?
Kind of like unions, just business right. I’m not saying the NRA is bad, I just have a prodlem knowing that my hard earned money is lineing the pocket of the ceo and should be used better. My 2

VE Veteran - Old Man's Club

@ WB … Uhhhhhhhh I think you are off in left field on your statement about LaPierre being directly responsible for Hillary’s defeat. Hillary was directly responsible for Hillary’s defeat. Remember Benghazi? 4 Dead Americans and her flippant “What difference at this point does it make?” Remember her email scandal, and the sketchy past she has. Remember how she thought she was the smartest person in the room during the Presidential debates. I could go on, but you should be getting the idea by now. She was toxic from the get go and only the committed leftists and hard core… Read more »

Wild Bill

@VE, Maybe, but just before the election, the NRA put out many very effective TV advertisements. Remember the “I am the NRA” series of commercials? Those ads got everybody I know to vote against Hillary. I have two useful idiot sisters that even voted against Hillary, admittedly because of the NRA commercials.
LaPierre caused those TV ads to be seen all over America. Maybe I am in left field, but I am in the ball park!

VE Veteran - Old Man's Club

WB – I was against Hillary the first time she ran in 2008, and against her even when she was the FBOTUS (First B*tch of the United States). She is, was, and always will be unpalatable to anyone with morals. Just knowing two people who changed their vote on account of an ad, doesn’t make it the only reason.

Hillary, to know her is to despise her! Just ask Vince Foster – Oh wait, I’m sorry but he can’t answer due to being DEAD under mysterious circumstances.

moe mensale

Directly responsible? You’re giving the NRA far more credit than it deserves. While a good portion of the membership may have voted for Trump, some may have voted for Clinton. And some may not have voted at all. I’m pretty sure Trump’s overall strategy had a lot to do with his victory.


It’s not 5 million, it’s 1 million plus half million in benefits plus a car. That’s still quite an increase over the 200 thousand he was making before Ackerman-McQween.

Wild Bill

Bill Clinton got five million, from the Saudis, for a speech.

moe mensale

I’m sure LaPierre would love to bring down that salary but if you read their annual Form 990 you’ll see that he grosses about 1 million annually. Still not shabby by any means.


Excellent column Jeff. Although I’ve been extremely critical of Wayne, Chris, Ackerman-McQueen et al I completely agree with you.

moe mensale

I agree. The present NRA leadership may be lacking in certain areas but you can’t help to fix something by just abandoning it to the wolves. I’ll continue to support several other gun rights groups but I’ll continue to vote for NRA directors that more fully represent the NRA grassroots.

Silence Dogood

Strategy disagreements aside…NO, NO, NO, NO. You’re not getting away with that flippant throw-away line. STRATEGY is everything. That’s always been the “problem” with the NRA. Elephant in the room? Well, Elephants get old and die…younger more vibrant Elephants take over the herd.


We need people to join the GOA. I am not paid anything to say that and I dont work for them.

Silence Dogood

Strategy disagreements aside…NO, NO, NO, NO. You’re not getting away with that flippant throw away line. STRATEGY is everything. That’s always been the “problem” with the NRA. Elephant in the room? Well, Elephants get old and die…younger more vibrant Elephants take over the herd.


No Jeff, you were right the first time. We are tired of the NRA trading away our rights when it suits them. I’m not going to renew with them. I’m going to double-down on Gun Owners of America. You know where they stand. And I don’t have to like bump stocks to respect other people’s right to have them. NRA goes along to get along. Who needs that? Preach one thing, then an incident happens and they’re ready to blame the object instead of the individual committing the act. Don’t need it. Not falling for it anymore. They compromised our… Read more »

James Andrews

I have to be an NRA member in order to be a member of my local gun range, as it is an NRA affiliated range. Which is kind of a bummer, if they continue to drop the ball!

VE Veteran - Old Man's Club

Not so fast, GOA is probably the best Gun Rights Organization out there because it doesn’t compromise our 2nd Amendment at all. It takes to heart the phrase “shall not be infringed.”

David Gregory

Way to go, Jeff Knox, great article. Please do repost, remind, repeat the email for If this is an actual way to contact the board members then that is a good thing. Is there a way to tell which ones are from Texas or my part of Texas and is that relevant? Somehow my Endowment Life membership was suspended as was my fathers’ (life) after my father passed in 2013. None too sure about when but it was a while before I began receiving First Freedom magazine, again. However, I have not received a ballot, or at least not… Read more »


Yeah, I tried that link to board. Life member and nothing, not a peep. They have no power, just figureheads to draw in more money. Also GOA member and they actually get some of my money. Until Shall Not Be Infringed is back to the foundation of NRA, nothing from but scorn.

David Gregory

Greetings Frank, Not a peep here either but I did get a call to donate, again. Oh well.. 😉