Editor Note: AmmoLand News has officially endorsed Willes Lee for the 2019 NRA Board of Directors. Please consider him for your vote.
U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)- Later this month NRA members will receive their ballots to select members of the 2019 NRA Board of Directors. One-third of the Board's 76 seats are due to expire in April at the NRA Annual Meeting. Voting-eligible NRA members will determine which 25 nominees will receive a three-year term to the Board.
One of the members running for re-election to the Board of Directors is Lt. Colonel Willes K. Lee. During his time on the Board Lt. Col Lee has served on six committees including chairing the NRA Outreach Committee with Lt. Col Allen West as co-chair and is the co-Chairman of the Collegiate Programs Committee. Besides these committees Lt. Col Lee is a member of the Military and Veterans Affairs Committee, Grassroots Development Committee, Legislative Policy Committee, and Federal Affairs sub-committee.
Lt. Col Lee is a graduate of West Point. He is a combat veteran of Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm where he earned a Bronze Star for combat performance.
Today, Lt. Col Lee is the President of the National Federation of Republican Assemblies (NFRA) and the National Director of the Hawaii Republican Assembly (HIRA). He also serves on the Board of Directors of the American Conservative Union which is best known for hosting CPAC.
I had the chance to sit down and speak with Lt. Col Lee about why he wants to serve on the board, and how he will use the opportunity to help defend the Second Amendment from attacks by anti-gun groups.
John: Thank you for sitting down with us. Do you prefer Colonel Lee or Willes?
Willes: Willes works best, John. Thanks for asking.
John: Thank you for making time for this interview for AmmoLand News. Our readers want to get to know the people AmmoLand endorses for the NRA Board of Directors.
Willes: You’re welcome. Thank you to AmmoLand.com for endorsing my re-election.
Glad to do this pre-election interview with you, John. I have to preface that as a current board member, I’m not an NRA spokesman. These comments are my opinion. I am proud and honored to serve on our Board, and not shy about my positions nor about putting them “out there.”
John: Why do you want to run for the NRA Board again?
Willes: Two things the readers need to know up front. I am a Second Amendment absolutist, and not a “but” guy in any sense of the Second Amendment. Read my bio of military service and politics. I am a “no compromise” sort of guy. At this point in my life, I’m blessed to be able to choose where to spend my time and resources. I choose the NRA.
Secondly, from local to state to national, our Second Amendment has never been in such a precarious position. Period. The NRA is the only thing standing between you and the Dems desire to repeal the Second. Also, I am a Life member of the Second Amendment Foundation and have their leaders’, Alan Gottlieb and Joe Tartaro’s, endorsement. And, Life member of GOA. These organizations do different things. If we work together, we win. Understanding this makes our interview fall into place.
The Second Amendment is under attack, John. The NRA is their specific target – they leverage the lying media, lawsuits, boycotts, even bots – because they too know that we are who stands in their way. The Democrats intent is to disarm America. It is my responsibility to help stop that. Few are presented with the circumstances and tools to be in this position, supporting our national effort. I’ve worked my ass off to defend the Second, and I’ll continue to do so.
At this level, with an issue this sacrosanct, there is no room for beginners, no room for amateurs. Learn and practice before you get here, serve on a committee, learn to raise millions of dollars. There is no learning on the job. The NRA is a national, crucial, half-billion-dollar enterprise with hundreds of staff, thousands of volunteers, and millions of members representing 120 million firearms owners and even more believers in the Constitution. You better be ready when you get here, and you better be tough.
So far, I am good in my role in defense of the Second Amendment and the promulgation of shooting programs. From one committee to two to last year’s five committees, this year it increased to being appointed to six committees and co-manager of a new program, including being Chairman of Outreach and Co-Chairman of Collegiate Programs. I embrace the responsibility and encourage anyone who can do it better to please do it. The Second Amendment depends on having the absolute best people doing this work.
John: As Chairman of the Outreach Committee, tell me why this is important to the mission of the NRA.
Willes: Our movement depends on the participation of as many supporters as we can muster. The NRA is diverse. Our membership is varied; the Board is diverse. Continued Outreach, or what I prefer to term as inclusion, is essential. Primary is a desire to spread our message to people who may not know of firearms ownership and personal protection, the enjoyment of shooting sports, firearms safety, gun collecting, competition, hunting and enjoying the great outdoors, and conservation efforts to keep that great outdoors. There are many who haven’t been exposed. We want to change that. That includes political participation, but it isn’t just political. It is a matter of exposing people to the necessity, benefits, and joy that comes with the Second Amendment.
I don’t see Outreach as a committee separate from the others. Our inclusion efforts must be integral to every NRA program, in General Operations and ILA and everywhere else. John, our Outreach Committee is exciting. I’m discussing with AmmoLand more articles on our efforts and membership of the committee. If we, our Second Amendment community, are not inclusive, our effort dies in two generations. I spend time with myriad committees, and the others to which I am assigned are Military and Veterans Affairs, Grassroots Development, Legislative Policy, and Federal Affairs.
Attending rallies and conferences, speaking as I did at SAF Gun Rights Policy Conference the past several years, speaking at events such as the Friends of NRA dinner in Honolulu in November is on our own dime. We’re not compensated, we’re not paid to be on the Board. Officers and a handful of others are NRA spokesmen and women. The rest of us do this out of our own pocket. So, when you see or invite an Outreach Committee member to an event or to speak, know that they are paying their own way, or better, you can cover or help to defray the cost of their visit. I remind folks who want to get into this world that volunteer work is pretty darn expensive. I am fortunate to have the family support to pursue this opportunity.
John: Let’s talk about your positions on several topics. What is your stance on Risk Protection Orders which are better known as “red flag laws”? How can people send a message to NRA that their position on red flag laws is wrong? Marco Rubio and other Republicans are now supporting red flag laws. It seems like Republicans are always giving ground. What can we do to reverse that?
Then, let’s talk about the NRA supporting the bump stock ban even though Rick Vasquez as the original ATF senior analyst determined them not to be a machine gun. Why do you think the NRA came out in support of the bump stock ban, and red flag laws? Do you support the bump stock ban?
Willes: Thanks for these questions. Ha, the easy ones. Oh, you better note for our readers that was a sarcastic chuckle. You know that I am transparent on these issues and have my positions on my NRA Facebook page and Instagram.
First, we need a bigger picture of the National Rifle Association. ILA [institute for legislative action] is a third of the NRA. General Ops with all their programs, many which have a great legacy – Eddie Eagle in 30 years has reached 31 million children for example, and we also continue to make the rules for most our shooting disciplines, so, G.O. [general opperations] is the other two-thirds. That doesn’t include the NRA Foundation and much of our legal assistance.
We do considerably more than people know, and way more than any other firearms-related organization, especially the small, single-topic groups which are so valuable in our grassroots community. By the way, all the membership dues, at any level, ONLY goes towards General Ops, none goes to ILA on the political side. ILA raises their own funds to win elections and issue battles. I appreciate your questions falling on the ILA side, that’s where I do most of my work, but readers should know that NRA covers the spectrum, not just a niche.
To your questions, let me put this in my language. Hell no, I don’t support restrictions on bump stocks or machine guns for that matter!
I am a law-abiding citizen; in America, I should be able to do and have what I want as long as I do not infringe on others’ rights. To follow suit, or some troll will say I have differing levels of “no,” I have to also say “hell no” to gun confiscation laws.
Mentally unstable people who are a danger should not have potentially dangerous tools, of any sort to include knives and automobiles, and should be in treatment. There are already laws in every state, for this. Enforce the laws we already have.
Confiscation, or what liberals call red flag laws, is a Democrat political ploy. Yes, due process is essential, but with Obama judges at every level and with progressive doctors everywhere, I question whether a gun owner can receive due process. Here’s a warning, gun confiscation laws are here, and more are coming. You, in the royal sense, elected the legislators doing this to us.
In some cases, it is getting people killed. When the NRA tries to see they are correctly written, understand that the NRA is ahead of this curve. Those who whine, hear this message, these laws are coming. Rhetoric may raise donations, but it isn’t going to stop the laws. You better hope we can get them written well. And, we all better start winning more elections.
Which brings me to what every AmmoLand reader can do. Stop sending crap legislators to DC or your State Capitol. Then, stop blaming NRA because those legislators make laws we don’t like. There need to be 218 votes in the House to pass a law. Sixty to pass in the US Senate, and 40 to stop one. Don’t be an ignorant activist get educated, help us win elections. As voters, our community must send better 2A officials to DC and our state capitols.
That goes into this and you have to follow me here: it took a year, after the House narrowly on a partisan vote passed the historic national reciprocity bill, to finally gain just 40 US Senator sponsors. 40. Remember, you need 60. Contrast that to the week after Parkland, there were enough votes in the Republican-controlled House to pass an AR ban, Universal Background Checks (UBCs), and the bump stock ban.
Legislators, on both sides frankly, were scared. If it took a year to get 40 votes for reciprocity, how confident are you that every single one of those 40 Republicans would have no-doubt-go-to-my-grave stayed with us to kill that bad bill? Right, not 40. Then, you’d have a law, including an AR ban. I know and trust Rick, he was right when he was at ATF. ATF got it wrong this time, and I am surprised that “our” ATF changed Rick’s work.
Now, though instead of a law, you have an Administrative ruling, yes with the effect of law, but which can be more easily legally challenged or changed with one signature rather than 218 votes in the House and 60 in the Senate. It hurt even more that ATF didn’t provide for restitution for our bump stocks. Yes, any restriction on a law-abiding citizen pisses me off, so thank the NRA you still have your AR.
Rhetoric is fine. I do grassroots politics when I am not doing NRA. I like rhetoric. I use rhetoric. I am a no-compromise guy, but the socialist lead Congress you’ve sent to DC isn’t. Just remember that rhetoric without the ability to back it up is impotent and damaging to the movement.
Forty votes to stop anti-gun bills. THIS is the precarious situation now and into the future. You better support and you better pray that the NRA with Wayne, Chris, and Joe DeBergalis continues to be up to the task. And, you should elect 2A candidates.
John: Thank you, Colonel Lee. Willes. I know you are busy. Those of us at AmmoLand appreciate your military service and on the NRA Board of directors. How can NRA members vote for you in this election?
Willes: You’re welcome, John. Thanks for having me. I want all our readers to please Like my Facebook WillesLeeNRA, that is my primary platform to get the most current info out there. I can’t know everyone, so you’ll see endorsements from folks you know, and you need to Share them. I also entertain a lot of snark on that page. My Instagram is a mix of NRA and personal stuff. The detailed information, such as my full bio, endorsements, and blog is at willeslee.com.
Not all NRA members, nor gun owners, can vote but they can all Share and forward my campaign materials. That’s how we hope to reach the voters and convince them to vote for me.
For NRA Life and five-year members, your ballot comes in your NRA magazine on or just after January 22nd, 2019. I am honored to have AmmoLand.com’s endorsement and humbled by every vote. You should “bullet vote.” Vote for one, me please, or perhaps three who you know or whose bio is appealing. At the most, vote for five. Otherwise, your votes are all tied, and no one benefits. Most importantly, as in any election, please vote. Thank you.'
LtCol (ret) Willes Lee is a 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 (2017 Defender of Liberty recipient), GOA and Co-Chairman of the Trump-Pence Second Amendment Coalition. Lee is President of the National Federation of Republican Assemblies, on the ACU Foundation Board (hosts of CPAC), and a former RNC member/State Chairman. Col Lee is a combat veteran graduate of West Point, a 22-year Ranger and Airborne qualified Armor officer, DSSM/BSM/LM. He holds an Engineering Degree from USMA and a master’s degree of Public Administration.
About John Crump
John is an 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.