My National Rifle Association Expectations

Opinion

Members Contact the NRA Board of Directors
My National Rifle Association Expectations

USA – -(AmmoLand.com)- Over the years, I have often been pretty critical of the NRA and its leadership team. Even though I try to make a point of expressing my support for the organization and its mission, there are always some who see my criticism as an attack, and an attempt to tear down the organization. In this column, rather than simply pointing at the flaws and failures of the association, I want to address some practical and reasonable solutions and expectations.

It is unreasonable and unrealistic to think that a 147-year old, $300 million plus, per year organization, with an elected board of 76 deeply entrenched directors, would or could suddenly shift course and completely revamp the way they do business.

Even the famous Cincinnati Revolt in 1977, which was a ground-shaking event, only resulted in minor changes in the long-term operations of the organization – and years of wrangling for power and control. Another result of the Cincinnati Revolt, was the inevitable restructuring of the rules to make sure that nothing like it could ever happen again. That started with the revolutionaries, putting up defenses against a counter-revolution, and then was continued by the “Old Guard” as they slowly regained power. Today, virtually all of the reforms of Cincinnati have been reversed or modified beyond recognition.

So, with all of the problems that the NRA is currently facing: A $30 million deficit, declining revenue and membership numbers, legal assaults and much frustration over their Carry Guard insurance and training program, accusations of illegal campaign spending, and suggestions of improper dealings with Russian agents, and a large segment of the membership upset over what they see as capitulation on core issues…

What would be realistic expectations for reforms at NRA?

To begin with, the Board of Directors needs to establish very clear guidance to the Executive Vice President and staff to ensure that every communication, every policy, every strategy, and anything else that comes out of the organization is consistent with the core values and principles of the association and the Second Amendment. This should be backed up by an oversight subcommittee of the Board, comprised of Second Amendment purists who will always place principles over politics. Too often, it seems that the political operatives are driving the boat, leaving principles behind in the name of pragmatism. Closer oversight from some purists on the Board would go a long way toward solving this problem.

Next, the Board must review the audit processes, that should be in place, to ensure full compliance with all state and federal fundraising and political spending laws and regulations. Everyone at NRA should be very aware that everything they do will be scrutinized by regulators, reporters, and political operatives looking for any irregularity or impropriety. With that awareness, it is totally inexcusable that there should be even the slightest hint or appearance of the organization straying from the straight and narrow. We know that accusations will always be thrown at us, so we must be sure that we are absolutely scrupulous and beyond reproach in all of our dealings.

Stories that the NRA accepted large donations from Russian citizens, and then used that money to support a presidential candidate, should be easy to refute. Accusations that the NRA used the same political advertising agencies as candidates they supported – suggesting that they were coordinating independent expenditures with those campaigns – should never even come up, and if they did, NRA should be able to very quickly disprove such accusations, but so far, they have refused to even answer any questions about the matter.

NRA Carry Guard Cluster F&%*

"The truth is, right behind your firearm, your second most important self-defense protection is a rock-solid carry policy." - Dana Loesch, Gold NRA Carry Guard Member
NRA Carry Guard

The roll-out of a major new program like NRA Carry Guard should be preceded by thorough examination of the insurance and solicitation laws of every state, to ensure that there would be no conflicts or compliance issues, but that apparently didn't happen with Carry Guard. There should also have been in-depth discussion with the Training Division, and the Board committee that oversees training, along with key training counselors around the country, before such a major training initiative was introduced, but again, that apparently didn't happen. This has resulted in fines and lawsuits from Insurance Commissioners in several states, and confusion and anger among NRA Instructors. Where was the due diligence that would have avoided these problems? The Board must institute policies and procedures to make sure such mistakes and “bad optics” don't recur, and those responsible for the blunders must be held accountable.

Next, the Board needs to review all vendor agreements, eliminate any unnecessary programs, and begin transitioning as much as possible back in-house. Currently, the NRA pays over $40 million a year to one PR and Advertising company. They also pay a telemarketing firm something in the neighborhood of $30 million a year, and they list four separate companies just to “advise” them on fundraising, at a total of over $3 million per year – just for advice!

Then there is the issue of executive compensation. While it is not unusual for executives in some major non-profit corporations – such as the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts or the Guggenheim Museum – to receive compensation in excess of $1 million dollars per year, these are typically professional executives who could earn such compensation at any number of similar organizations, and are funded by wealthy patrons and huge endowments. Such is not the case with Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox. They rose to their current positions via internal political maneuvering and being in the right place at the right time. Both would be hard-pressed to find employment in the $200 to $300k range as senior lobbyists in a DC firm, and wouldn't even be considered for any sort of senior management positions.

The Board should review all executive compensation packages and bring them down to more reasonable levels. NRA executives should not be expected to work for free, but it is simply not right to be paying LaPierre almost a million and a half dollars per year while begging hard-working NRA members for $20 contributions.

The steps suggested here are not dramatic. They would not jeopardize the stability of the organization or damage its political clout in any way, nor would they be costly or difficult. On the contrary, these steps would stabilize the NRA, refocus it on its core missions, establish proper and long-lacking Board oversight of operations, save money, reduce costly mistakes, and restore the faith of members and former members in the NRA's mission and leadership. These are all things that the NRA Board should have been doing all along, and needs to do now.

But instead of taking these reasonable, rational steps to improve and strengthen the NRA, scuttlebutt inside the organization suggests that the leadership is going to try to “solve” the problems by creating a for-profit entity, out from under the NRA non-profit umbrella and less accessible to the prying eyes of government regulators, nosy reporters, and “disgruntled members” like me. In other words, rather than fixing the problems, they are going to try and hide them from view.

Let's hope the rumors aren't true, and that the NRA Board of Directors has the will and integrity to do what needs to be done.


Jeff Knox
Jeff Knox

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: www.FirearmsCoalition.org.

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    DaveCharles DriggersOldLawProfStLPro2AWild Bill Recent comment authors
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    Dave
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    Dave

    I have been a life member of rhe NRA since the 70’s but no longer send them money. I donate (mainly) to The Fireams Coalition and GOA

    OldLawProf
    Guest
    OldLawProf

    I spent 3 terms on the NRA Board. That is 9 years. I went on with Neal Knox and I was purged with him. I was on the Finance Committee too.

    After the recent Bylaw changes reducing the power and influence of the members, I am convinced that the NRA Board is beyond redemption.

    StLPro2A
    Guest
    StLPro2A

    I’m a NRA Benefactor Lifer, but I quit donating to the NRA when I realized that they were paying ole Teddy Nugent……a NRA Director, yet,…… $50,000 to strum his guitar and preach to the choir on Sunday afternoon for about an hour at the Annual NRA Convention. That is about the annual membership dues of 2,000 members….only about 1500 members attended. And, then they paid him $60,000 annually to sign 1200 guitars to auction at Friends of NRA fund raisers. If he is a NRA Director, he should sign them for free to support fund raising.. And, for $1,500,000 per… Read more »

    Renfro
    Guest
    Renfro

    Being a Benefactor member, I think it’s time for a changing of the guard with the upper brass with the NRA. I don’t hear any of them coming out with any statements concerning some of the issues that the members are concerned about.

    Mark H
    Guest
    Mark H

    Whining and division is exactly what will kill the 2nd amendment. If you want better.. make it better. Supporting pro 2A groups that fight the oppressive anti-gun legislation is required or you can kiss your rights away. The NRA is not perfect but they are the reigning 800 pound gorilla in the room. Just look at the attention devoted to them from the antis. This is for good reason because the NRA has been front and center fighting for a long time. I say fix it but don’t walk away as they are needed in the ongoing battles. I say… Read more »

    Charles Driggers
    Guest
    Charles Driggers

    It cannot be fixed if they will not listen to what the members are saying. I am a lifetime member, and am getting pretty frustrated with the whole thing. I am tired of paying for salaries instead of protection of my freedoms. Yes they are the ones that get the most publicity, but most do not even know about the other pro 2A organizations. And, I am tired of getting marked as a FUDD just because I support the NRA. I also believe the money the higher echelon is getting is being misappropriated in outrageous salaries and unnecessary gimmicks.

    TomC
    Guest
    TomC

    Good article, BUT it has one fatal flaw: the entire article rests on the assumption that the purpose of the NRA is to support the Second Amendment and the Right to Keep and Bear Arms — that simply isn’t true. The NRA is not, and never has been, a Pro-2A organization. The NRA was formed to promote rifle marksmanship — it did that very well and continues to do that better than any other organization. In the course of promoting rifle marksmanship, the NRA also became involved in firearms safety training. It did that very well and continues to do… Read more »

    m.
    Guest
    m.

    nra: when i see a public and permanent repudiation of all gun control “legislation” going back to 1934, “i’ll be back”

    Bruce
    Guest
    Bruce

    Many people here feel that it is a good thing to leave the NRA, not support the NRA, and hope for their demise? You people are the real enemy!

    JOE PARRIOTT
    Guest
    JOE PARRIOTT

    I AGREE WITH YOU BRUCE. WE NEED TO FIX THE BROKEN PARTS OF THE NRA, NOT DESTROY IT. AS BEN FRANKLIN SAID “GENTLEMEN WE MST HANG TOGETHER OR SURELY WE ALL WILL HANG SEPARATELY.”

    TomC
    Guest
    TomC

    No, Bruce, the real enemy is the organization that brought us the National Firearms Act in 1934, the Federal Firearms Act in 1938, the Gun Control Act in 1968, the Hughes Amendment in 1986, and the Federal Assault Weapons Ban in 1994.

    Wild Bill
    Guest
    Wild Bill

    @Tom C, Actually it was not one organization that brought us the National Firearms Act of 1934. It was the Democrat party and the Republican party that brought us the NFA, GCA, and the Hughes Amendment and you are quite right about the real enemies part.
    Parties have been corrupting our Constitutional system since day one. .

    Mark K
    Guest
    Mark K

    It was Ted Kennedy who got the GCA in 68′ with the support of a Democrat majority in the legislature and signed by LBJ, not the republicans WB. Actually Wild Bill, you should check your sources before you make charges. The democrats had the majority in 1934 when the NFA was passed, and Mr. Progressive (democrat) FDR signed it into law. The Hughes Amendment was added to the FOPA of 1986 as a rider, and yes there was republican help there as they had the Senate and Presidency. (1 0f 2 mistakes by RWR). But yet, one can still buy… Read more »

    Mark K
    Guest
    Mark K

    WB, the democrats controlled the legislature in 1934 and FDR (progressive democrat) signed it into law. GCA? democrat majority with LBJ signing it. The Hughes Amendment was a rider on the FOPA of 1986 and passed in the democrat controlled House on a voice vote. The republicans however had a simple majority and let it passes there in an overwhelming vote. Reagan signed it into law reluctantly as his veto would have been overturned.

    Wild Bill
    Guest
    Wild Bill

    @Mark K ” The republicans however had a simple majority and let it passes there in an overwhelming vote. Reagan signed it into law reluctantly as his veto would have been overturned.” Hmmm, it appears, that by your own admission, the Repubs did have something to do with it, a lot to do with it.
    Well, I don’t stand corrected, yet.

    Mark K
    Guest
    Mark K

    Sorry WB but the Republicans had nothing to do with the NFA, or the GCA. NFA democrat controlled legislature Progressive Democrat FDR signed it. GCA of 68…Democrat controlled legislature and LBJ as President. The Hughes Amendment was a rider attached to the Firearms Owner Protection Act by Hughes (a democrat). The FOPA was popular as it rolled back some of the past BS in the NFA and GCA so it passed by a landslide and Reagan signed it, a veto would have been over ridden. You can still buy a machine gun if you can afford it, and get a… Read more »

    Wild Bill
    Guest
    Wild Bill

    @Mark K, I don’t think that “…the Republicans had nothing to do with the NFA, or the GCA…” is a true statement. As I recall Repubs in the Senate and House voted for the NFA; and that Repubs in the Senate and House, also, voted for the GCA.
    Perhaps you could provide the specific vote data for those acts.

    Mark K
    Guest
    Mark K

    The Hughes Amendment was passed overwhelmingly in the Senate which was controlled by the republicans. The democrats controlled the House and Ronald Reagan sighed it because to veto it would have been futile. The rest? All courtesy of the Democrat party. Thankfully GWB let the 94′ ban expire as it had a sunset clause.

    och will
    Guest
    och will

    My hopes for the NRA are that A. they stop marketing guns through far right political extremism and misinformation about gun violence in America B. that they dump Oliver North the convicted gun trafficker who lied to Congress and who consistently couches his comments in far right political extremism and denialBB. that the NRA come to grips with and stop feeding the worst per capita gun violence problem in the develop d world by blocking gun safety legislation and misrepresenting gun safety advocates as “socialists” , :communists” or whatever hateful rhetoric Dana Loesch chooses to put out in her hate… Read more »

    Mike
    Guest
    Mike

    ^^Och is a fucking troll. We don’t need YOU for anything, asshole.

    Greg K
    Guest
    Greg K

    Let em talk…I need someone to point my bony finger at and say, “there goes the bad guy!”

    Ericnohio
    Guest
    Ericnohio

    Wow! That’s quite a progressive comment. The only thing you left out were the bans and confiscation. Constitution! We don’t need no stinking Constitution! We need the government to tell us what we need, what we should have, where we can go, what we should be willing to give up. And the NRA needs to get on board with that. Poor misguided sheeple.

    m.
    Guest
    m.

    no one cares what an anti-2a d-sucker thinks about anything

    tomcat
    Guest
    tomcat

    @och wil You have outdone yourself. You must have your pink pussy hat on and looking at a picture of your favorite progressive. Your post is so full of holes it looks like a siv, and you know it. You keep this up because you are a proff in a liberal college trying to do an experiment and bring more sane students into your fly trap. No one here wants to hear your MAJOR LIES and propaganda. Take it to the progressive numbnuts you socialize with. You are a designed moron.

    Charles Driggers
    Guest
    Charles Driggers

    You are someone who would rather someone be murdered , raped , or maimed than actually be able to defend themselves. You are the evil personified. Your post shows you knw nothing, but the lies the left have always tried to scram down peoples throat.

    Green Mtn. Boy
    Guest
    Green Mtn. Boy

    I attended a show this past weekend,I happened to see one of the officers of my states GOA backed organization. I told him, “Here is a donation to the cause.” I sailed right on past Negotiating Rights Away’s booth. Until there is a change in the NRA, Not One More Penny!

    don simon
    Guest
    don simon

    Until the NRA does exactly what it’s supposed to be doing, I will not re-subscribe nor support any issue they see as worthy. They have left countless members holding the bag while they rake in money for things that are totally unrelated to our 2nd amendment rights. I have read of military personnel rotting in jails while the NRA wasn’t there to support them. They have dropped the ball on numerous issues and have weakened our rights more and more each year. I will continue to support the GOA as much as I can in the future as they appear… Read more »

    Grumpy
    Guest
    Grumpy

    Not long before my NRA Carry guard Insurance rate went up I noticed the lawsuits and fines in the press. I asked Carry Guard about the rate increases but got fluff from them. I contend they were passing the fines and lawsuit expenses off on the Carry Guard participants. I recently changed my concealed carry insurance and could not be happier. I was offended by the NRA Carry Guard Insurance rollout at the Atlanta Annual Meeting where they banned another long time vendor from the meeting/show who also was offering carry insurance products. Yes, it is the NRA meeting so… Read more »

    Mark K
    Guest
    Mark K

    I too was mad when the Carry Guard program was rolled out. Cutting the supporting competition from the Convention was a pretty short sighted thing to do. There should be room for all at the table. I refused to get Carry Guard once I saw what they did to the USCCA and compared coverages available, yes, I stuck with the USCCA. What a disappointment coming from the short sighted fools! Then the lawsuits came from NY….That is where a good part of the NRA’s financial problems come from, Cuomo and Bloomberg are doing their best to screw and bankrupt the… Read more »

    Mike
    Guest
    Mike

    While all good points, until LaPierre and Cox are drummed out of the organization and the rules are fixed so that the board of directors and president actually have a say in organization business, the NRA isn’t going to change. Not to mention that many of the movers and shakers int eh organization are Fudds at heart. Otherwise, why would we see so much capitulation and compromise? Until the organization gets a complete rework, it’s going to continue to fail us.

    Dave
    Guest
    Dave

    I’m an NRA Lifer and will not give that up. But I have also joined the GOA because of the NRA’s compromise stance. While I will never give up my gun and may be killed using it to defend my right to have it, the NRA’s work and public pronouncements leave me fearing that I’ll die in a fight that the NRA could have prevented.

    Dave in Fairfax
    Editor
    Dave in Fairfax

    This Dave concurs entirely.

    Chris Johnson, Sr.
    Guest
    Chris Johnson, Sr.

    I hope this article is forwarded to every executive member and board member of the NRA and they should take heed to the information that you have written. Excellent article!

    Nanashi
    Guest
    Nanashi

    The only thing the NRA has responded to has been loss of money by leaving. Three articles in one week begging people not to leave. That seems to be the only solution.

    JMR
    Guest
    JMR

    You missed last month. For awhile it seemed like 4 a day.

    Mike
    Guest
    Mike

    South Dakota just got ‘constitutional carry’. Where was the NRA in the run up to Gov. Noem signing that legislation?

    Oklahoma is headed towards constitutional carry, where is the NRA in that state??

    Texas is struggling to pass constitutional carry in this year’s legislative session, where is the NRA’s support in that state???

    You go, Jeff Knox!! The NRA needs deep reforms from top to bottom.

    Mark K
    Guest
    Mark K

    Your point is? What does the NRA need to do when a pro gun legislature passes a pro gun bill on to a pro gun Governor? You are expecting the NRA to control voting? If anti-gunners are in control of State Government just what do you expect? The voters determine the government, not the NRA. The NRA does their best to get the vote out, but has no control as to what lever/box is pulled/checked.

    William Flatt
    Guest
    William Flatt

    Reforms are needed, desperately, but they will NOT happen. Why? Because there is a fundamental rot at the core of the NRA. The opacity of how the organization manages its money is the biggest clue. The fact that they’re looking at other ways to maintain that opacity is a huge red flag. The other issue is how people like Wayne LaPierre and those closest to him (like Chris Cox) have manipulated the organization’s internal rules to establish and maintain power, resist the efforts of people like Mr. Knox (Sr. & Jr.) to introduce reforms, and wildly enrich themselves at the… Read more »

    Illinois_Minion
    Guest
    Illinois_Minion

    In my eyes, the NRA is akin to a Union. Fat, politically motivated, and not overly member oriented of late. Just keep on feeding them with our ‘contributions’.

    I’m tired of them taking care of themselves over the general membership.