By Jeff Knox
(January 25, 2018) My endorsement list for NRA Directors this year is pretty short. As a matter of fact, it’s really short:
Adam Kraut of Pennsylvania.
I’ve not been shy about this endorsement over the past month or so, but there are a lot of NRA voters who don’t go looking for information until they receive their ballot, and then the flood of requests for my recommendations come rolling in. Well, Voting Members of NRA should be receiving ballots for this year’s NRA elections this week. Generally, the easiest way to tell whether you are eligible to vote is to look at your February NRA magazine, whether American Rifleman, American Hunter, or America’s First Freedom. If you are eligible to vote, there will be a ballot in your magazine. If there is not a ballot, you probably aren’t a Voting Member.
If you believe you are eligible to vote in NRA elections – you are a Life Member or have been an Annual Member for at least 5 consecutive years – and you did not receive a ballot, you can contact the Secretary’s Office to verify your membership status and request a ballot.
I am encouraging all Voting Members to cast a single vote – also called a “bullet vote” – for Adam Kraut. You may vote for up to 25 candidates this year, but marking your ballot for fewer amounts not only to a vote for your guy, but every vote you withhold counts against the rest.
I first ran across Adam Kraut a couple of years ago while perusing gun and shooting channels on YouTube. I happened upon a channel called The Gun Collective, and noted a segment called The Legal Brief, hosted by a young and enthusiastic attorney. Each episode he would take some aspect of gun laws or legislation, and boil it down into simple, practical terms. I became a regular viewer of the channel, and when that young man declared his intent to run for the NRA Board of Directors, I reached out to learn more about him.
What I found was that Adam is a serious firearms enthusiast who helped pay his way through college and law school by working at a local gun shop.
He’s sharp, well-informed, diligent, and curious. He’s also interested in other people’s perspectives, and open to new ideas and different approaches. After talking with Adam and with trusted grassroots activists in Pennsylvania who knew him, I offered him my endorsement – warning him that an endorsement from me could be a double-edged sword. I let him know that, while there are quite a few folks who put stock in my recommendations for the Board, there are some within NRA leadership who still have a strong aversion to the name Knox, and will oppose anyone I support.
Adam didn’t blink, and readily accepted my endorsement. We finally met for the first time at the NRA Convention in Atlanta, after he narrowly missed the cut for election to the Board, and where he was mounting a campaign for the 76th Director position, who would be elected at the meeting. In the end, he fell about 60 votes short of winning that seat, running against a 20-year incumbent – John Cushman – who ran with the full weight of the NRA establishment behind him.
It was disappointing, but Adam took it in stride, and regrouped. He was surprised at the chilly reception he’d received from NRA insiders, and that served to spike his rebellious streak. He decided not only to take another shot at it this year, but doubled-down by proposing a series of bylaw amendments, and created a web-based portal for members to communicate with NRA Directors.
The idea of hearing from members seems to have really set off alarm bells at NRA HQ, and the paranoia about Adam’s run for the Board came out vividly in a recent editorial from NRA Past President Marion Hammer, here on Ammoland Shooting Sports News. In it, she (assuming she wrote it and not a PR shill) makes it apparent that the NRA establishment does not want Adam elected, and actually fears him.
Following a pattern common for NRA elites over the years, she began by praising the member revolt of 1977 at the meeting in Cincinnati, then did her best to bury that historic event.
She suggests that the membership can’t be trusted to nominate candidates to the Board, arguing that this important task should be left to the official Nominating Committee. One of causes of the Cincinnati Revolt was the fact that Board membership was completely controlled by the Nominating Committee. The “election” consisted of a ballot showing up in the magazine with twenty-five names hand-picked by the NRA brass for twenty-five openings. Marion and the NRA management would prefer we return to that sort of election.
My late father, Neal Knox, one of the leaders of the Cincinnati Revolt, wrote and introduced the bylaw amendment which provided for nomination of Director candidates by petition of the members. The amendment set the requirement at 250 qualified signatures as a reasonable threshold, and that standard held for 39 years without any problems or abuse. Last year the Board decided – based on no evidence at all – that the threshold was too low, so they pushed through a bylaw amendment raising the bar from 250 qualified signatures, to almost 700, tied to a percentage of votes cast in the previous year’s Director Election.
With that change, rather than the typical four or five petition-only candidates that we’ve typically seen over the four decades since Cincinnati, this year there were only two: Adam Kraut and Mark Humphreville.
I don’t know Mr. Humphreville and was not able to contact him. He may be a good guy. But I know Adam, and I trust him.
My ballot is on its way, marked with his name only.