U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)-To grow the gun community, we need to reach out to groups that the general public wouldn't consider typical of the gun community. Gun owners are not limited to just old white males, but that is how anti-gun organizations and far left groups like to frame the NRA and the Second Amendment community in general.
It is a fear tactic, and the mainstream media is complicit in the demonization of the gun community. Gun rights organizations are having to fight back against the anti-gun propaganda by shedding light on the truth of gun ownership.
To counter the false narrative that anti-gun groups are peddling to non-typical gun demographics the NRA has an outreach committee that is chaired by LtCol Willes Lee (Ret). The goal of the NRA Outreach committee is to reach out to these groups and let them know that the NRA is for all gun owners regardless of race, gender, or religion.
AmmoLand contacted LtCol Lee to get a better understanding of the Outreach Committee’s mission and goal. He was willing to talk to us about the critical work that the outreach committee is doing within different communities, but Lee wanted it to be known that he does not speak on behalf of the NRA Outreach Committee. He is speaking on his own experience with the committee.
According to Lee a better name for the Outreach Committee would be an “inclusion committee.” Lee, the committee chairman, works on the committee with notable people such as Sheriff David Clark and LtCol Allen West (Ret).
Reaching out to the urban demographic is vital to expanding support for the Second Amendment and the outreach committee does more than only concentrate on a demographic of people.
“Nowhere in our mission does it say anything about race,” Lee told me. “I don't deal in diversity. I deal in inclusion. Our community already knows that we're diverse. Yes, predominately we see white men from our strong hunting and competition shooting backgrounds. It is our history, but that is changing. Just look at our committee members and even the NRA board and how it has grown to include many new faces and genders. “
The committee was initially designed to increase interest and participation in the association's activities in city centers and among urban population segments. Since the renaming for the committee from Urban-Affairs to Outreach, it has expanded on that mission.
“Our biggest success to date is with women,” Lee told me. “That was part of our initial Outreach. It was to figure out how do we get more women involved in the shooting sports and the Second Amendment effort. I think you say we, the entire 2A community, not just the NRA, but collectively we have been successful at that. The marketplace has changed.”
There is now gun magazines dedicated just to women and firearms. Along with women-centric concealed carry clothing, these things show the success that the NRA Outreach Committee and other groups have had reaching out to women.
The Outreach Committee has also worked with Kevin Dixie of N.O.C Firearms in St Louis and Rick Ector and Rick’s Firearm Academy in Detroit. Ector has trained over 700 women at single events and more in the last four years. He held these gun classes free of charge to the women he has trained.
Women are the fastest growing demographic of gun owners. By training these women, Ector has made these women safer than any law on the books. Also, by teaching women about firearms, it not only demystifies guns but also helps dispel stereotypes about gun ownership and gun rights.
Maj Toure of Black Guns Matter has a standing invitation with the committee due to his relationship with Lee. Toure’s primary focus is on the urban community although his classes are open to everyone. Toure is educating people on the importance of the Second Amendment and strengthening the pro-gun movement within urban centers.
The biggest challenge of the Outreach Committee is getting the message about the power of the Second Amendment out to the public. Communicating pro-Second Amendment messages out to the people is a hard task due to the current political climate that infests the modern media landscape.
“We've got a great group of committee members some of whom are on the NRA board. We have star committee members that have agreed to join us on the committee,” Lee told me. “I think the biggest challenge in the Second Amendment community is being able to get our message of inclusiveness. That the Second Amendment isn't just, as some people have described, for one group or for one set of people.”
Since Lee took the reins of the committee from Roy Innis, [we love Roy for famously knocking down Al Sharpton during a talk show in the '80s], Lee has continued to grow the NRA's efforts of inclusion.
One of the areas that Lee sees as an opportunity is working with the disabled community.
There are 74 million disabled Americans. This number continues to grow due to our aging population and our advances in medical science. Also, around 22.5% of working-age civilian veterans reported a VA service-connected disability in 2014. The NRA has launched the Adaptive Shooting Program to help these disabled individuals to experience the joy of firearm sports.
With events around the country and educational resources at a click of a mouse button, the NRA has made shooting accessible to these Americans. While helping grow the shooting sports within the disabled community, the NRA is also spreading a message that the Second Amendment is for everyone.
Without a big tent approach, the anti-gunners can twist what the NRA and the Second Amendment community in general stands for concerning the right to bear arms. The NRA Outreach Committee is doing a lot to educate diverse communities on the actual reality of gun ownership so they will see through the fear-mongering and lies of the antis.
Shooting is just not for just you and me. You cannot identify a Second Amendment supporter by gender or race. Even many the LGBTQ community are staunch supporters of gun rights, and the ability to defend themselves.
The best way that gun owners can help the goals of the NRA Outreach committee is to take a non-gun friend or family member to the range. Talk to them about the importance of the Second Amendment and the real facts about guns. Only by educating our friends and family about why we value the Second Amendment can we safeguard our rights.
The media has a lot of influence over society, but when it comes to family and friends, we still have more power to change their minds.
AmmoLand would like to thank LtCol Willes Lee for the inside look at the work of the NRA Outreach Committee, and if you would like to get involved, please reach out to Chairman Lees at Twitter and Instagram @WillesLee, and www.Facebook.com/WillesLeeNRA.
About LtCol (ret) Willes Lee
LtCol (ret) Willes Lee is President of the National Federation of Republican Assemblies. Member of the NRA Board of Directors, assigned six committees: Chairman Outreach, co-Chairman Collegiate Programs, Military & Veterans Affairs, Legislative Policy, Federal Affairs, Grassroots Development. Life member NRA, CCRKBA/SAF, GOA. Co-Chairman of Trump-Pence Second Amendment Coalition, on ACU Foundation Board (hosts of CPAC), former RNC member/State Chairman. Lee is a combat veteran who graduated from West Point with an Engineering degree, a 22-year Ranger and Airborne qualified M60A3/M1A1 Armor officer, DSSM/BSM/LM. He holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration. Follow at www.Facebook.com/WillesLeeNRA and on Instagram and Twitter. His full bio and blog are at www.WillesLee.com, and his email is [email protected]
About John Crump
John is a NRA instructor and a constitutional activist. He is the former CEO of Veritas Firearms, LLC and is the co-host of The Patriot-News Podcast which can be found at www.blogtalkradio.com/patriotnews. John has written extensively on the patriot movement including 3%'ers, Oath Keepers, and Militias. In addition to the Patriot movement, John has written about firearms, interviewed people of all walks of life, and on the Constitution. John lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and sons and is currently working on a book on leftist deplatforming methods and can be followed on Twitter at @crumpyss, on Facebook at realjohncrump, or at www.crumpy.com.