Reorganizing the NRA, the Goal …more Accountability to the Membership

Leadership Board of Directors Compass iStock-donskarpo 490990815.jpg
Reorganizing the NRA, the Goal …more Accountability to the Membership, iStock-donskarpo

USA – -(AmmoLand.com)- There’s been a lot of discussion in recent years, and especially in recent weeks, about reorganizing the NRA.

The NRA itself filed a “Reorganization Plan” with the bankruptcy court, but, as I mentioned in a recent article, that “plan” was a joke, mostly just declaring that the new, reorganized NRA would have all of the same assets and liabilities of the old NRA, and that the new, reorganized NRA would have a dedicated “Compliance Officer” to make sure they obeyed all the applicable laws and rules, and that it would be reorganized in various ways yet to be determined.

That’s not a plan. It’s a proposal to think about making a plan.

Many have opined that the Association needs a smaller, Board of Directors, more accountability, less follow the leader, more member control, but they generally don’t have much of an idea of what they want the final product to look like. So here are my ideas for an effective, responsive, accountable NRA. These are just ideas for discussion and improvement. Debate and discussion are good, as iron sharpens iron.

First, I suggest three different boards with three different areas of responsibility:

  1. An Honorary Board.
  2. An Advisory Board.
  3. A Managing Board.

The Honorary Board would be composed of celebrities, politicians, and high-dollar donors. As the name suggests, membership on the Honorary Board would be honorary, with members responsible for being goodwill ambassadors and fundraisers for the Association. They would have no role in the governance of the Association and would be elected or removed by the Advisory Board, with no limits on the number of members serving on it. They would not get travel reimbursement.

The Advisory Board would be a representative board of about 52 to 55 members, each elected by, and representing the NRA members of their home state or US territory. The term of service for Advisory Board members would be 2 years, with approximately half of the seats up for election each year. This board would be responsible for doing most of what the current Board of Directors does now, forming committees and subcommittees to hash out details and formulate policy and position proposals. The key difference between this board and the current board would be that the Advisory Board would not be making the final decisions, instead advising the Managing Board.

The Managing Board would be composed of 9 members, each serving a 3-year term, with one-third of the seats up for election every year. The members of the Managing Board would be nominated by the Advisory Board’s Nominating Committee or by petition of the members, and elected by the Advisory Board. The Managing Board would be responsible for electing the Executive Vice President, and for setting policy for the Association, as well as overseeing all aspects of Association business.

The key idea behind this three-board structure is to create more accountability and checks and balances, while also providing a place for everyone who wishes to serve. The Honorary Board provides a space for celebrities, politicians, and major donors to serve the Association, without specific attendance or involvement requirements. This is not to say that a celebrity, politician, or major donor could not, or should not, serve on the Advisory Board or the Managing Board, but service on those boards would come with an expectation of regular attendance and full participation. Anyone serving on either of those boards would be expected to work, and there would be minimum attendance and participation standards that they would be required to meet in order to remain on the board. The Advisory Board would be comprised primarily of people with strong ties and experience in the shooting sports and firearms politics, and the Managing Board would be comprised of people with solid firearms backgrounds and credentials, and equally solid business and government experience.

By making the Advisory Board a representative structure with shorter terms, the board members can much more easily be held accountable by their constituents. As has been demonstrated, under the NRA’s current national, mail-in voting system, with all seats being “at-large,”elections can easily be manipulated by whoever controls the NRA magazines, which is the only mechanism for effectively reaching most of the Voting Members. By keeping Advisory Board elections local to the several states, each Advisory Board member is more vulnerable to direct challenge, and therefore more responsive to the desires of their constituents. This representative system would also get state affiliates more involved in the whole process and give them a louder voice in the NRA’s governance. The Advisory Board would be the workhorse board, doing all of the heavy lifting currently done by the NRA Board’s committees, and just as now, the committees and subcommittees could be supplemented with NRA members knowledgeable about any particular committee’s area of interest. The final say on policy issues would always go to the Managing Board. But since the Advisory Board elects the Managing Board, the accountability factors of the Advisory Board make sure that the very best candidates are elected to serve on the Managing Board, and this provides checks and balances to the whole process.

The Executive Vice President would be elected annually by the Managing Board, from among candidates nominated by the Advisory Board, and the Bylaws would require that at least two qualified candidates for the EVP position be on the ballot each year. If there were ever an issue where the Advisory Board had lost confidence in the ability of the EVP, but the Managing Board appeared to be loyal, or beholden to that EVP, the Advisory Board would be able to prevent the EVP’s reelection by simply not renominating that EVP in the next election.

Other details would need to be worked out, and it might be good to incorporate some term limit provisions into the system, but this is the major reform that I think would be most efficient, fair, and accountable to the members who pay the bills.

Most of these changes would require changes in the NRA’s Charter, and many changes would be needed in the Association’s Bylaws, but it’s pretty clear that the NRA is going to need to adopt a new charter and Bylaws in the near future anyway, and I think this lays out a pretty workable blueprint for a future structure.

The NRA is supposed to be controlled by the members, not a select group that puts themselves in positions of authority and becomes self-perpetuating.

It’s not supposed to be driven by some cult of personality or a group of elitists. None of us is infallible, and we all need someone looking over our shoulder now and then to make sure we’re still on the straight and narrow.

I’m not going to claim that this plan is the only way or even the best way to take the NRA forward, but I do think it would be a good way, and hopefully, it will stimulate some thoughts and discussion to help find the best way.

Please share this with your friends who are NRA members, and add your ideas in the Comments section below.


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.

Jeff Knox
Jeff Knox
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Charlie Foxtrot
Charlie Foxtrot
20 days ago
Reply to  Jeff Knox

The biggest problem are the voting eligible NRA members! They had years to fix the organization, but didn’t and still don’t want to. Sure, it has become harder over the years to do that, but there are still too many NRA members, some of them well known, that support the current NRA leadership, either because they are ignorant or they are their buddies. This goes back to the issue that Wayne LaPierre isn’t the problem, but the symptom of the problem. Fixing that problem by rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic won’t help. I agree with a Board of… Read more »

Last edited 20 days ago by Charlie Foxtrot
Charlie Foxtrot
Charlie Foxtrot
21 days ago

Thanks to John Richardson for pointing this out in his comments: https://onlygunsandmoney.com/2021/05/25/a-modest-proposal-by-jeff-knox.html The Managing Board, which is the actual Board of Directors with the legal oversight duty, would be elected by the Advisory Board and not by the members. That’s a non-starter! We basically end up with NRA members voting for the Advisory Board, who then vote for the Managing Board, who then vote for the Officers. It should be pretty clear that this is a promotion path creating opportunities for insider deals, where the Advisory Board members will put themselves on the Managing Board ballots and vote among themselves… Read more »

Knute
Knute
21 days ago

So the treatment for too many board members is….. MORE board members? Does that strike anyone as weird?
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results” – Albert Einstein

Jeremy B.
Jeremy B.
21 days ago
Reply to  Knute

First, this is still less than the current number of board members (not counting the honorary positions for (I hope) obvious reasons.

Second, we (members) currently only get a chance to swap out 1 or 2 board members at a time. The board currently controls all other nomination. This gives the members the ability to remove 50% of the advisory board EVERY YEAR!

Third, this actually mimics the US legislative and executive branch elections but with much shorter terms.

Fourth, I don’t think Einstein would agree with your use of his quote.

Dzapper
Dzapper
21 days ago
Reply to  Knute

I think Jeff is trying to work from the de-facto situation that currently exists where there are numerous board members whose sole function for the organization is to be used for their celebrity. Fundamentally I think we can get rid of those people as “board members” and instead call them 2nd Amendment Ambassadors or something. The current directors also do a lot of things unrelated to actual governance of the organization, but more in line with accomplishing the missions of the organization. In other words they are doing things that are more operational in nature than governance, and shedding those… Read more »

Charlie Foxtrot
Charlie Foxtrot
20 days ago
Reply to  Dzapper

The AARP has 3-4 times the annual revenue of the NRA and has 11 Board members. The Board members are supposed to provide oversight and not perform operational functions of the organization, because that would be a conflict of interest. Any operational functions should be performed by the operational NRA divisions, using either paid staff or volunteers.

Mac
Mac
21 days ago

My only point of contention is a board with politicians and celebrities on it. I personally have no use for either and fail to see how they would benefit NRA members.
What I am convinced of is Wayne LaPierre must go along with most of the Board and Senior employees and officers. Many of the aforementioned should be locked up for their crimes.
I will not give another penny to the NRA until this mess is cleaned up. GOA is a great organization, focused on protecting the Second Amendment.

Charlie Foxtrot
Charlie Foxtrot
21 days ago
Reply to  Mac

The purpose of the Board is to provide oversight. The purpose of putting political and cultural celebrities on the Board is the opposite. Plain and simple.

Xaun Loc
Xaun Loc
21 days ago

Trying to convert the NRA into a RKBA-advocacy organization is simply a total waste of time without completely replacing the current management (not merely at the top, but certainly starting there). Trying to make the NRA into a legally-compliant and properly managed organization is a totally different challenge that also requires the same initial step. Just because these goals require the same initial step (Fire the crooks), too many people think they are one and the same, but actually these are different goals that simply both need to start with the same first step. The NRA was a reasonably-honest reasonably-well-managed… Read more »

musicman44mag
musicman44mag
21 days ago

I vote for the kick anyone out that makes over 150,000.00 a year board. How about that.

Charlie Foxtrot
Charlie Foxtrot
21 days ago
Reply to  musicman44mag

NRA Board members should not receive any payment from the NRA, other than reimbursement for documented and justifiable Board meeting expenses. How about that?

ralph
ralph
21 days ago

As an NRA Member since 1953 and now a Patron member, I would hope someday to hear what fellow Marine Ollie North knew/learned that caused him to leave the NRA presidency. I hope to live long enough to see the NRA downsized a bit and re-organized (bye, Wayne) and made as efficient as GOA. I love the NRA, just not some of its secretive maneuvers and outlandish expenses. Sometimes it seems it’s just another swamp creature.

musicman44mag
musicman44mag
21 days ago
Reply to  ralph

We need each and every organization that supports the 2nd amendment.

Bill
Bill
21 days ago
Reply to  musicman44mag

No matter how much it might corrupt itself. Pro-2A is everything. Corruption, who cares, right?

musicman44mag
musicman44mag
21 days ago
Reply to  Bill

I do care about corruption but never does the song remain the same and it is always and forever changing just like our 2nd amendment rights have done. What is yesterday could be different someday. Let’s hope someday never comes.

No copy right infringement against Led Zepplin or CCR intended.

Charlie Foxtrot
Charlie Foxtrot
21 days ago
Reply to  ralph

So, you haven’t paid attention then in 2019? Those of us that have know what happened when Oliver North was replaced as NRA President. Too bad that involved Oliver North being corrupt as well and just getting thrown under the bus by Wayne LaPierre in the NRA v. Ackerman McQueen case.

Charlie Foxtrot
Charlie Foxtrot
21 days ago

Please do not to name each of these a “Board”. It just creates confusion, even from a legal compliance point of view. A nonprofit has only one Board of Directors, not 3. Advisory Committees are usually not elected. They provide input to the Board of Directors, who do hold the power of oversight. It should be clear that the Advisory Committee has ONLY an advisory role. The biggest issue is missing, though. The current problems with the NRA are mostly due to conflicts of interest. What stops the Advisory Committee from grifting? Realize that the members did not stop the… Read more »

Xaun Loc
Xaun Loc
21 days ago

You are right that naming separate entities as “Boards” is a bad move, however it is perfectly reasonable to have one “Board of Directors” that includes different classes of “Directors” who have different responsibilities and different powers. It is entirely possible to have some “Honorary Directors” who don’t have any vote on board decisions and whose responsibilities are entirely or primarily in the public relations arena. Both honorary “Directors” and honorary “officers” are common among charitable organizations. Certainly the “President” of the NRA has not been its primary operating officer in many years despite the title. Having two tiers of… Read more »

Charlie Foxtrot
Charlie Foxtrot
21 days ago
Reply to  Xaun Loc

Sorry, but non-profit laws probably do not allow for Directors with limited voting rights. Each Board member assumes legal and financial liability for the oversight of the company they are performing. Creating different types of Directors that sit on the same Board is even worse than having multiple Boards. It is also almost what we have today. The Current Executive Committee effectively runs the NRA and the rest of the Board is just rubber stamping that. Having a CEO (or Executive Vice President) who runs the company and a President who is the public face is actually not that uncommon.… Read more »

DIYinSTL
DIYinSTL
21 days ago

Knox’s plan is very similar to the excellent one suggested by Adam Kraut several years ago. Knox does not address the many committees that need(?) to be headed by a board member and the organization needs better continuity than the head being (re)elected every year though the BoD needs the power to remove at any time. The biggest challenge is of course how to oust the Executive V.P. and his cronies on the BoD as well as within the organization. I suggest promoting Wayne to Chairman emeritus. No salary. No benefits. No office space; not even stationary. No anything. And… Read more »

Bill
Bill
21 days ago
Reply to  DIYinSTL

Works for me. As long as his (WLP) hands are kept out of our pockets!

Captain
Captain
22 days ago

I want to see a complete, non biased, outside audit of every dime they have spent. Not just something big Wayne puts in place or any of his crones. Several years ago when I heard we the members were paying for Mr. LaPierre’s suits and for his wife’s travel with him on business I quit contributing. Done. I’ve been a life member since the early 70’s so I guess I’m the fool for not watching more closely but thinking they really gave a rats ass about me and my 2A rights. AND while I am on this rank what’s this… Read more »

JayWolf
JayWolf
21 days ago
Reply to  Captain

Agreed, we need to start there first.

Buster
Buster
22 days ago

Everyone pretty-much knows what ought to be done. The focus should be on what CAN be done.

Most of us are already doing what we know to do – cut off funding!

musicman44mag
musicman44mag
21 days ago
Reply to  Buster

Yep, that even works with demonkkkrats. When you hit them in the pocket book they listen and correct their inappropriate action. For a change.

Xaun Loc
Xaun Loc
21 days ago
Reply to  Buster

For better or worse, there is nothing that can be done to reform the NRA from within. Sorry guys, but the current rules make it impossible to oust the current (mis)management team. The only way to “fix” the NRA is to tear it down and start over — a much more practical approach is simply to select an organization that is properly managed and that has a history of supporting our goals, then support that organization as the replacement for the NRA. I won’t retype or copy/paste by earlier comments about the history of the NRA, but a quick one… Read more »

vepr
vepr
22 days ago

The NRA has been destroyed. That skunk , Li’l wayne La P u , has been allowed by the stupid members to get such a grip on the organization that it will be completely destroyed trying to root him out. Letita James will do what the stupid members were too stupid to do. The NRA will be pried from the skunks cold dead hands. There is no reason to rebuild the destroyed NRA. It is a worthless lightening rod of controversy. It no longer has credibility . It has been replaced by several other more effective organizations. It has become… Read more »

JayWolf
JayWolf
21 days ago
Reply to  vepr

I think this would be the best route but it’s wishful thinking.

Circle8
Circle8
22 days ago

In business if you have a problem that is the cause of a reduction in production the solution is to rid the company of the problem to solve the “problem”. Some people call it “Falling on your sword”. The NRA should call it riding the organization of the trash. Either way dump the idiot lapierre.

Dr. Strangelove
Dr. Strangelove
22 days ago

Get back to me when Wayne LaPierre is fired.

J Gibbons
J Gibbons
22 days ago

That can’t/won’t happen until a reorganization. A bankruptcy reorganization plan that is legit and substantial will both save the NRA and remake it into the 2A advocacy group it should be.

Charlie Foxtrot
Charlie Foxtrot
21 days ago

One usually makes plans beforehand, and not afterwards! That’s what this article is about.

Steven
Steven
22 days ago

The NRA is doing exactly what they’re supposed to do, if anybody understands football you understand what the NRA’s doing…. lead blocking so the g o a and the Firearms policy coalition and others like them can make touchdowns

Rob
Rob
22 days ago
Reply to  Steven

I’m guessing you’re making a joke or you do not see the real problems within the NRA. Either way, your football analogy failed on downs.

J Gibbons
J Gibbons
22 days ago
Reply to  Rob

I disagree with that as what the NRA is “supposed to be doing.” However, the NRA draws so much attention and ire that it has allowed smaller groups to act more freely and successfully of late.

Still, a remade NRA could be a very positive thing if a reorganization happens and the current problems are ousted as a result.

AccidentalActivist
AccidentalActivist
22 days ago

This is new concept I kinda like. I’m looking forward seeing what happens next and what other folks have to say about it.

BenV
BenV
22 days ago

I see so many similarities between the NRA and the ARRL (American Radio Relay League). The ARRL is like the NRA when it comes to Amateur Radio. Protecting the interests of amateur radio and the frequencies allocated to amateur radio. The hobbies voice in Washington.
*I am not comparing the 2nd amendment to a hobby.
Too many deeply entrenched higher ups mostly concerned with protecting each other. Also like the NRA the ARRL has too many useless giveaways and offers, and pins, and labels, and badges and stickers. Lots of money wasted on things like that.

Charlie Foxtrot
Charlie Foxtrot
21 days ago
Reply to  BenV

The NRA, though, has perfected the grifting at a whole other level.

The ARRL has at least its entire organizational structure and its bylaws on their Web site: http://www.arrl.org/organization-structure. Heck, they even have their 990 tax forms and Board meeting notes on their Web site. The NRA does not do any of that. The NRA purposely hides information from its members! For the grifters, less transparency is preferred.

As for the useless giveaways and offers, and pins, and labels, and badges and stickers, that’s a Boomer thing! A problem that both organizations have.

RetUSAF
RetUSAF
21 days ago
Reply to  BenV

I’m a Patron/Life member of both Organizations. There are some similarities, but also many differences. Biggest difference is the ARRL is not controlled by an unelected Dictator for life, like Wayne Lapierre. ARRL members have a little more say what happens, if we bitch loud enough to our Regional Directors. With the NRA, the board is made up with Wayne’s puppets that totally ignore the members. 73, Dick K9VQ