Are We Revising NRA History?


NRA Board of Directors
Are We Revising NRA History?

Buckeye, AZ –-( On January 15, 2018, Marion Hammer, NRA past president and a current member of both the NRA Board of Directors and Executive Council, published an editorial on Ammoland Shooting Sports News. The article warned of current and past threats to the NRA, and listing a slate of candidates she supports for the upcoming NRA Board of Directors election.

Mrs. Hammer is free to endorse any Board candidate she likes. But in her endorsement she can't rewrite history to suit herself, nor can she expect to cast aspersions on the motives of good people without challenge

In her comments, Ms. Hammer carefully avoids naming names, but anyone who has been paying any attention at all to NRA politics – past and present – knows exactly whom she is referring to.

She begins with muddy praise for the stalwart NRA members who staged a revolt at the NRA Members' Meeting in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1977. It was the night when the members wrested control of the NRA from a hidebound and self-perpetuating management and put the Association on the road to being the premier defender of the human right to armed self-defense. Then she jumps forward to 1997 to talk about an attempted “coup” by a group of “dissident malcontents,” but fails to mention that both actions were staged by many of the same people, and for many of the same reasons.

I put “coup” in quotes in the second instance because the group that she claims was staging the “coup” was the duly elected Officers and Directors attempting, unsuccessfully, to exercise their fiduciary responsibility against actions by paid staff and critical contractors with multimillion-dollar contracts.

The 1997 fight was not a coup; it was a mutiny.

In contrast to Cincinnati, the prize in 1977 was not the heart, soul, and destiny of the NRA, but control of the organization’s checkbook and prudent management of its resources. The goal in both instances was to give the members control over their NRA. The 1997 action included First Vice President Neal Knox, Second Vice President Albert Ross, and a majority of the NRA Board of Directors.

Neal Knox
Many on the Board wanted to fire Wayne for his duplicity. Neal Knox was not among those.

But, history is written by the victors, so the attempts of the Board of Directors to demand fiscal accountability from their hired staff was later reported as a “coup.”

The core issue was how the NRA's PR company, Ackerman McQueen, was drawing millions of dollars a year from the organization and improperly controlling NRA staff. The Board directed Wayne to sever ties with Ack-Mac, and Wayne promised to do so, then claimed to have done so, by bringing in a new PR company called Mercury Group. The “new” PR company turned out to be a wholly owned subsidiary of Ack-Mac, with all of the same players in all of the same positions, still bleeding the association of the same millions of dollars.

The Finance Committee responded to the charade by calling an emergency meeting to demand accountability, demand dismissal of Ack-Mac, and require the treasurer to pull NRA's meager remaining funds out of risky investments.

Marion Hammer, as President of the Board, used her power to push that meeting into executive session to quash the reports from the meeting, then at the subsequent Board meeting, used her power to suppress debate, spread disinformation, and bully members to her position.

Read her editorial. She brags about her use of heavy-handed tactics.

Many on the Board wanted to fire Wayne for his duplicity. Neal Knox was not among those. He merely wanted Wayne to obey the instructions of the Board, and he was willing to use the threat of firing Wayne as a lever to force him to comply, and he was ready to follow through on the threat if Wayne balked.

But Wayne, backed by Ack-Mac, other vendors, and allies on the Board, many of whom had business dealings with vendors, had sown enough confusion to keep the Board from forcing him out. The bylaws required a 2/3 majority vote to fire the EVP, and while a substantial majority was in favor of firing him, they couldn't muster the 2/3rds needed to do it.

Rather than taking my word for what happened in, and leading up to that meeting, you can get the story from one of Wayne and Marion's staunchest allies in that fight. Writer/director, and NRA Board member John Milius, who was interviewed by a reporter for the Washington Post in 2000, and provided a stunningly frank description of the machinations he and others engaged in.

John Milius
Director; John Milius

He also described the situation as a coup attempt, then said;

“So we used our best techniques: lying, cheating and disinformation. I didn’t tell the truth for weeks.”

The story goes on to explain how Milius and Ack-Mac manager Tony Makris invited a “Knox loyalist” out to dinner in LA and convinced him that Wayne would be willing to go quietly if he were provided with a large enough severance package.

As anticipated, the “Knox loyalist” spread the word that he had brokered a deal that would save face for everyone and began lobbying for Wayne’s severance. But when the meeting commenced, Wayne rose publicly to declare himself shocked that the Knox faction would stoop so low as to try and bribe him.

Milius reported that LaPierre gamed the moment perfectly, and, with Mrs. Hammer's help, was able to cling to his position as they headed into the Annual Meeting of Members in Seattle.

At that 1997 meeting, two unprecedented events took place:

Charlton Heston
Charlton Heston

First, a person who received write-in votes in the Board of Directors election was deemed to be qualified to run for the 76th Director seat that is elected at the Annual Meeting. The bylaws said that only people who were candidates in the election were eligible, and that had always been interpreted to mean people who had been nominated by the Nominating Committee or by petition of the members, but this year it suddenly included anyone who had received write-in votes. And by an amazing coincidence, one of Tony Makris' PR clients happened to get some write-in votes. That client was Charlton Heston.

The second unprecedented event at that meeting was the election of a brand new Board member to the leadership. In a surprise move – which in retrospect should have been no surprise at all – Mr. Heston was nominated for the office of First Vice President, to run head-to-head against Neal Knox.

Heston won that election by four votes, and immediately left the meeting to jet back to LA and appear on a radio talk show, during which he repeatedly stated that it was inappropriate or civilians to own AK47 type rifles. He eventually learned his script better, and the following year stepped up to become President of the NRA.

In her rewrite of history, Mrs. Hammer is correct that the fight was primarily about money, and that one side was trying to personally profit off of the NRA. I believe that's true, and here's the record on that.

As a result of the “Knox faction” raising a stink about the NRA's finances, the treasurer moved funds out of those risky investments right before the markets crashed. Over the next several years, NRA engaged in a barrage of cheesy sweepstakes, fire-sales on memberships, and heavy-handed direct-mail fundraising to rebuild their depleted coffers, eventually returning to solvency – and making Ack-Mac a huge pile of money in the process.

Marion Hammer, who has been paid by NRA to run the Unified Sportsmen of Florida since Neal Knox recruited her for the job back in 1979, saw her paycheck go up from $30k a year to $120k a year after she sided with Harlon Carter against Neal Knox in 1983. It has been reported that it is now between $250k and $300k per year. So far as I am aware, she is the only director of a state organization to ever receive direct or indirect payment from the NRA.

Harlon Carter
Harlon Carter

In 1997 Wayne LaPierre was being paid about $250k per year, up from the $186k that had been paid to his predecessor a dozen years prior.

After Neal Knox and his allies had been purged from the Board (with “Don't Vote For” lists published in full-page ads in NRA magazines – paid for by whom?), Wayne's compensation jumped to $400k. Then a couple of years later to $800k, leveled at around $900k for several years, and is now reported to be approximately $1.4 million, though a couple of years ago, due to some retirement pay-out, he received a cool 4 million dollars in one year.

Salaries of other top NRA officials have kept pace with Wayne's.

As First Vice President of NRA, Neal Knox never received a salary. He had a small travel and expense account, and at one point he and Marion Hammer joined forces to ask the Board to approve a small stipend for them and other officers who dedicated a significant amount of time and talent working for NRA, but that modest request was turned down by their fellow Board members.

During the five years Charlton Heston served as President, he traveled exclusively by private jet and limousine. NRA paid for that, along with Presidential Suite accommodations, and private security.

There are people with ulterior motives involved in NRA. Some accuse me of profiting because my organization, The Firearms Coalition, gets a slight bump in donations when I publish articles critical of NRA. That's probably true, but my annual salary from The Firearms Coalition is less than what Wayne LaPierre is paid every month, so it's a bit of a different ballpark.

Mrs. Hammer offered her list of candidates she encourages you to vote for, so here is my list:

  1. Adam Kraut.

  2. …….

That's it. While there are several other people, both incumbents and new candidates, whom I like and would be comfortable endorsing, this year I'm bullet-voting for Adam, and I encourage you to do the same. If there are others whom you know personally and appreciate, throw them a vote, but remember that if they are likely to be toward the bottom of the pile, a vote for them could bump Adam out of the running. There are even people on Mrs. Hammer's list that I like and have endorsed in the past, but it's probably a pretty safe bet to avoid voting for any long-term incumbent.

That's probably the best way to push out the “enemy within.”

Another good idea is to ask every candidate to comment on the editorial. Simple question: Do they agree with this version of NRA history, and do they think that people who are critical of the NRA leadership are trying to destroy the organization?

Go to Read his bylaw proposals. Take action.

Jeff Knox
Jeff Knox

It's your NRA. VOTE!

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:

  • 40 thoughts on “Are We Revising NRA History?

    1. The NRA is “effective” and so much larger than other 2A groups simply because its officers are swamp creatures. They know how to play the game, and use the same tactics as all the other denizens of Washington, D.C.. NRA’s lobbyists are part of the D.C./Left Coast good ol’ boy network, those of other 2A groups are not. Notice that NRA’s long term strategy, if it can be called that, results in as many losses of our rights as wins. Back and forth, gain ground last decade, lose ground in this one. That’s because if the matter is ever settled decisively, the gravy train ends. The money a perks only continue to flow as long as a large segment of the public feels threatened.

      This is true of every major “issue” in the country. There should be no real debate about most of them, as the Constitution is clearly written. But that’s how politicians function. It’s all about money and self-enrichment. The NRA’s antics perfectly illustrate the greatest threat America faces. It isn’t gun control or illegal immigration, those are symptoms. It is corruption, at all levels of government, and in the moneyed interests that have grown up around it. We can’t walk away from the NRA, even though its current leadership is part of the swamp. It’s the eight hundred pound gorilla in the room, and walking away just leaves the same people in charge who made such a mess in the first place, which is why I’m considering a life membership. It’s about a lot more than the NRA.

      Benjamin Netanyahu summed up our situation perfectly. “If you don’t have a seat at the table, you’re on the menu.” Politics only recognizes two forms of coin; gold, and blood. I’d rather try buying a seat, and a voice, at the table, as long as that option is still open.

    2. I worked with Neal and Weldon et al in 1998 to try to repair the damage done in 1997. I was there in Philadelphia when Marion shut off your father’s microphone, and when the members’ meeting was abruptly adjourned.

      I still have much of the material that many in the “Knox faction” sent me regarding the shenanigans of the self-named “Winning Team.” Everything you wrote here is true.

      I had the pleasure of breaking bread with your father and with Chris across the street from the Philly Convention Center after the meeting. Your father was indeed a fine man, and he is missed.

    3. this level of fear-mongering and pushing the old agenda is not what i expected to see – of course i never expected to see the old Neil Knox Report again….
      this stuff almost destroyed the NRA in the past- we are not talking about reform – we are talking about destruction.

      anyone who complains about how much money it takes to get things done when affecting law needs to take a course in politics and economics and then start counting how many people and salaries you need to pay to move a bill.

      I have been listening for years of people on the one hand whinging about the NRA and their solicitations and in the same breath state they are not a member- and yet are proudly carrying firearms. well heck people in the 70’s not many states just allowed you to get a carry permit- allowing that decision to be up to your local law enforcement officer. ( new jersey anyone?)

      a lot of the changes that occurred over the years came from initiatives from the evil boogie man you talk about – the NRA.

      1. Indeed it does take a lot of money to get things done today, but I’m betting if a lot more of it went towards the actual fight and less into Wayne and Marion etc’s hands we would see more results.

    4. For years I railed against the NRA because while I didn’t know these sordid details, the actions of these people that were visible to me led me to believe they were using the membership as a vehicle to enrich themselves and nothing else. I scoffed at the mailings and the constant drumming of “only your donation can prevent the next ban” and actively attempted to talk people out of joining the NRA.

      Until a good friend reminded me, that the other RKBA associations I was advocating for were small, ineffective, and unlikely to unseat the NRA as the premier force in protecting our rights, and if I wanted a national gun rights organization that effectively worked for us, rather than bucking the system entirely, I should try to help change it from within. He was right, and I became a life member solely to support board candidates like Adam Kraut.

      Thank you Jeff, for putting the truth out there for those of us who suspected but were not fully aware. I too, will be bullet voting for Adam.

      Drain the NRA swamp, one seat at a time.

      1. Bulls***. Without social media, patriots in the shadows, and young millennials (that everyone likes to bash) spreading the emails, the memes, etc, FHRC would be president.

        1. I have to agree with Bright, the NRA did NOTHING to get rid of Hillary, they supported the GOP candidates. Go back and look at who they were talking up and it sure wasnt Trump.

    5. Jeff, thank you for your help. I enrolled as a Life Member in July 2014 right after I received my CCL in May 2014. I asked for electronic copies of the NRA Magazine and have never received the first issue. I enrolled at a local shooting range; joined NRA; NRA-ILA; NRA-PVF; Florida Carry; Second Amendment Foundation; Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep & Bear Arms; and Gun Owners of Am. I have made calls to legislators; signed petitions; sent postcards; voted for pro Second Amendment candidates, etc. However, I was unaware of NRA’s history and had my eyes opened by your article. I am tired of being hounded by all these organizations for more money. I am starting to drop some of these groups because of this. It seems there is always an emergency that has to be addressed by sending money. I am retired and live on SS & my IRA. We are struggling to pay for our medicines at over $1,500/month. Which groups do the best job for the Second Amendment? Why haven’t we seen more friendly laws & pro-gun legislation? Reciprocity; Hearing Protection Act; Open Carry; abolishment of the NFA; Silencer Approval similar to Europe; etc. I hope you get this message and respond with your preferences. Once again, thank you very much for writing your article. [email protected]

      1. William, I always council people to only give what they can afford. Don’t stretch your budget, especially if you are actively taking direct action. You’re doing more than most and more than your share.
        I encourage people to become Life Members of NRA if it’s financially feasible, because then you can vote, and choose not to make any other contributions to them.
        Beyond that – or before – the best bang for your buck is always your local grass roots group, in you have a good one in your area. Florida Carry is a good one.
        Budget your contributions in advance, and avoid being guilted into pitching in for the latest emergency. If the pitch doesn’t actually give you good information – not just ranting that the sky is falling so send money now – then ignore it.
        When Dad was at ILA, he would send out a one or two page letter explaining what was happening in Congress, what he was hoping to do about it, and how he would spend your money if you could afford to pitch in. The response rate on those letters was always much higher than the over-hyped panic letters. The “experts” at NRA couldn’t understand it. That’s what he always did at The Firearms Coalition, and what I always try to do. We look at it that you care about this issue and want to know the real facts, not hype, and that if you see value in the information we provide and the work we’re doing, you’ll help out if you can.
        If a group is treating you like a fear-activated cash machine, instead of an intelligent, valued partner, don’t play their game. — Jeff

    6. I was a supporter of Neal. I have been a supporter of Adam and will support him again. The NRA has a long history of shenanigans in many aspects of things they run. If you want to meet another unhappy NRA group then go talk to competitive shooters

    7. One thing Jeff is probably too modest to bring up is that for years there was a well-defined succession to the NRA Presidency, where all the vice presidents were bumped up one position and a new vice president named at the low end. The NRA followed this trdition for decades… until Neal Knox was in the first VP seat and scheduled to become the president. Suddenly, the fatcats bring in Charlton Heston — a man with a documented history of gun-control activism* and zero history in the NRA — out of absolutely nowhere, he gets elected to the NRA Board, and then gets elected into a position to knock out Neal Knox, and becomes the next NRA president. A man with zero board or association experience prior to that point is suddenly the president. The only “dues” he paid came were on his membership application. That’s Clinton-class deviousness, it’s colder than a well-digger’s ass, and the NRA hasn’t gotten a penny of donations from me since.

      *All documented in a 1969 book (“Gun Control”) by a loyal retired NRA executive (Robert Kukla), so not fake news and not historical revisionism.

      1. Yep… Kinda like A/M just launched a “training program” last year as a marketing move to sell insurance… under the NRA Brand with a bunch of guys who weren’t NRA Instructors. When people complained, they made of them, with no history of teaching NRA Doctrine and barely any experience teaching in the private sector at all, the Director Training. It’s laughable.

    8. NRA leaders/Directors should never speak derogatorily about Petition Candidates. It only demeans the leadership/Dir. and shows disrespect for the members rights to elect who we really want on the board. I am grateful for Jeff Knox’s article and the history lesson. I commend Marrion Hammer for her past efforts BUT that does not give her the right to misrepresent what really happened or to try to keep the status quo and her salary. I am a life member but have never received any magazine or ballot. NRA took my money but NEVER sent me anything but my Life Membership Card. I want to bullet ballot vote for Adam Kraut. How do I do it? William W. Fernandez, Sr., Life Member 208078042

      1. William, When did you purchase your Life Membership? If it was recent, hold off for a couple of weeks, and if you don’t receive your magazine with the ballot (should be the February issue), then call NRA HQ during business hours (703-267-1000) and ask to be connected to NRA Secretary Jon Frazer’s office. If the operator asks what it’s concerning, say you’re a Life Member and have questions about the upcoming election. Once you’re in the Secretary’s office, they should be able to get you squared away. Make sure they promise to directly mail you a ballot, not send you through the rigmarole of the Membership Division. You might have to go through Membership to get your magazine situation squared away, but Frazer’s office should send you a ballot.
        If you eventually end up with more than one ballot, don’t try to vote twice.
        Hope that helps.

      1. The negative feedback to their crazy propaganda this week is an obvious indicator of two things:

        1. Ack-Mack (who are behind the communications without a doubt) continue to bumble through the firearms community relations role because they aren’t good at anything outside of pandering to the existing core.

        2. The existing core is shrinking and the normally passive “I pay my dues because I should, right?” members are finally tired of the shenanigans.

        I am a little disappointed that Ammoland shut down the comments to protect the NRA. My best guess is that the typical “If the anti’s see that, they will use it against us!” argument that NRA/A-M use to try to bully/shame people into not speaking out about their failures.

      1. @OV Under Wayne LaPierre, the NRA invested heavily. Also Larry Potterfield collected $14 million for the NRA through his “Roundup” device when you buy something from Midway USA. The round up is voluntary, of course.
        But the NRA does not really need any of our donations.

        1. Actually, things like Midway’s Round-up program go toward the NRA Foundation, like the Friends of NRA banquet proceeds. That money can only be spent on educational and civic good deed stuff – grants to Boy Scout troops, Eddie Eagle, hunter safety programs, etc. While that frees-up some funds that might otherwise come out of the NRA general fund, it doesn’t go into NRA’s operating budget.
          If you’re interested, you can go to and find recent Forms 990 for NRA and the Foundation to see where money comes from, where it goes, and what NRA executives are paid. It’s very illuminating.

    9. I have known Jeff and his brother Chris since they were little boys. I have commented here frequently. I knew Neal Knox very well and I also knew the NRA and it’s inner workings very well. I’ve never met three more honest people than Neal, Jeff & Chris. Honesty, to a fault, was most likely Neal’s downfall. He believed that everyone told him the truth.

      What Jeff has finally come out and said is what many of us have known for decades and, sadly, is only the tip of the iceberg. Until recently, most of us have held our fire because NRA has done a lot of good. However, at some point you realize that past good deeds no longer outweigh the harm that is being done to the cause and membership due to outright greed, manipulation and self serving causes.

      I too will be bullet voting for Adam Kraut. I fervently hope that we can turn this once great organization around and get it back on track, headed toward its original goal of the destruction of all laws that deny us our inalienable Rights.

    10. Jeff’s article and history here are ‘absolutely’ on point and accurate! I was part of the effort in the 90’s with Neal to remove Wayne and restore the intent of the Cincinnati Revolt to NRA operations. Sadly we failed even though 10 of us running for the BOD sued the NRA (and won) for violating the New York Not-For-Profit corporations law in misusing member money for the Nominating Committee!

      I urge everyone to follow Jeff’s lead and ‘plunk’ your vote for Adam Kraut! I know Adam personally and he is one of the best, and hardest working, 2A attorneys here in PA (his boss-Josh Prince is the best) and will be the spark plug that may just lead to a sorely needed redirection in NRA leadership!

    11. some of the best comments I’ve seen this week,

      “Any gun owner supporting the NRA right now is akin to a battered woman. I know he hits me, but he takes care of me too. He’s really sorry this time. Things will change. He won’t drink any more. He’ll never hit me again. If I just donate a little more money they will get me OTC suppressor sales….”

      The current NRA leadership has sold you out.
      They were all over New Jersey and helping prevent the laws just signed there by an out going governor.
      They’ve been fighting the good fight in NY, NJ, CT, MD, CA, CO, etc. for a while now. Their ground game at the state level is strong.
      So should we pat them on their back for their great work supporting a bump stock ban and not getting the HPA passed?
      Maybe the deserve a participation trophy for trying?
      Stand by for the mail telling you your rights are under attack and only if you donate a bit more then maybe they will think about fighting.

    12. Great article. Shining light on the dark is necessary sometimes. And sometimes it takes brave people to do it. Thanks for doing such. Adam will make a great director. I will be casting only two votes this year. Adam gets one of them.

    13. Jeff, I have had the pleasure of speaking with you multiple times. Everything you State is factual because I have independently verified it myself.

      Marion Hammer sold out her principles for money.

      I stand with Adam Kraut.

    14. Thank you for jumping into this fray Out Loud,
      Jeff. I have been speaking up about the craziness of this Series of NRA Spin Articles and earlier this evening shared the Washington Post piece that tells the truth about 1997. The audacity of Marion Hammer trying to re-write that history was a turning point for me. It revealed just how weak and desperate the current Regime and their cronies feel. Pressure from Industry Leaders (much of which never hits the internet, Social Media Influencers and (most clearly) The Members and recent former members have them desperate.

      After this week’s PR Disaster, maybe they will Do the Right Thing and take the opportunity next week at SHOT Show to step aside. The transition to a much needed new set of leaders at the NRA is getting uglier and uglier as time goes on.


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