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:
- An Honorary Board.
- An Advisory Board.
- 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.