USA – -(AmmoLand.com)- The executive vice president of the National Rifle Association is the person who runs the organization at the pleasure of the board, someone like a prime minister who wields power under the figurehead king. Since 1991, that office has been filled by Wayne LaPierre, for good and for ill. There is talk that he is considering stepping down, and it’s worth considering what kind of person should succeed him.
I am not a member of the NRA, and LaPierre is a part of the reason why—more about that in a moment. My purpose in this article is to offer some friendly advice from a supporter of gun rights who ideally would like to join, but at the very least wants success for the goals that we share.
First off, a new executive vice president needs to be able to devise strategy and tactics that will achieve victories. Being right is important, but so is winning. This would mean not being for something before turning against it, as LaPierre did on the question of universal background checks, for example. It also means leading the charge, rather than grousing from the sidelines. If things had been left to the NRA, the Heller case wouldn’t have been fought. Especially given the direction of the courts, we should see a lot more cases challenging state and federal infringements on gun rights, and the NRA needs a leader who will ask the director of the Institute for Legislative Action daily what the group’s lawyers are doing to make that happen.
It is right to say that the NRA has won a lot of battles in elections on the state and federal levels. And while gains such as the expansion of shall-issue carry licensing and constitutional carry are important, we also have to acknowledge that the evidence of Russian attempts to infiltrate the organization and more generally the mounting opposition to the flood of cash that is used to buy politicians suggest that the NRA is going to have to come up with new approaches. Whatever the actual effect of campaign donations is, the public perception of them is less and less favorable.
The problem is more than just a question of money in politics. The NRA at present is seen by roughly half of Americans as bad for the country. For decades, Wayne LaPierre has been the consistent public figure of the organization. Association Presidents come and go, while the executive vice president remains, and that person has to be someone who can draw in new people to the cause of gun rights. As I have said before, the NRA already has made a divisive choice of presidents, making someone who appeals to those who are not traditional—or stereotypical—gun owners is that much more important.
As I indicated above, I’m not an NRA member, and that gets at what I’m talking about here. Under LaPierre’s leadership, the NRA has consistently identified with the elements of the Republican Party that drive people on the left away. I am precisely the kind of person who the NRA needs, a liberal and a progressive who values gun rights. Yes, support for those is far stronger among Republicans, but in a nation that is divided often fifty-fifty plus or minus one, winning over the percentage of Democrats who are on the side of gun rights is essential if we want the law to protect them.
As if all this isn’t enough, the executive vice president also has to be a good manager and has to be someone who can handle a budget. Is all of this too much to ask? Perhaps. Institutions have inertia, and shifting them takes a lot of work. And genius is hard to pull off the shelf. But if we aim low, we inevitably hit the ground not too far from our own feet.
What leadership change at the NRA would inspire you to join or rejoin?
About Greg Camp
Greg Camp has taught English composition and literature since 1998 and is the author of six books, including a western, The Willing Spirit, and Each One, Teach One, with Ranjit Singh on gun politics in America. His books can be found on Amazon. He tweets @gregcampnc.