The NRA is in trouble. Continuing to elect the same people who keep making the same mistakes, is not going to solve the problems. We need new ideas, new perspectives, and new approaches. That means we need new people on the NRA Board of Directors.
Do you know individuals who are qualified?
The NRA Board of Directors only meets four times a year. They are tasked with setting policy for the organization and overseeing the proper execution of those policies on behalf of the members, including ensuring that money is raised and spent responsibly. This responsibility is officially reported as requiring about one hour per week from each director, but actually fulfilling the role will probably take much more time than that.
The Bylaws list a minimal set of qualifications, but the real qualifications go well beyond the minimums listed in the Bylaws.
First and foremost, an NRA Director must have an understanding of – and dedication to – the principles of liberty, as described in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. An NRA Director must be a Second Amendment absolutist who recognizes that rights cannot be compromised or bartered. Political pragmatism has a place as a short-term tactic, but the NRA must never put political considerations above the core principles our nation and our organization were founded upon. Every NRA Director must be well-versed in that history and those principles, which must be the foundation for every decision made as a director.
Second, a Director must bring to the Board some professional-level expertise about business, finance, fundraising, membership organizations, politics, or some other topic that may affects the Association and might require a Board policy directive. No one can be an expert in every topic, but every Board member should be an expert in his or her particular field and be able to assist the other Directors in developing a well-grounded policy on that topic.
Finally, an NRA Director must be widely recognized as honorable and respected members of the firearms community. That doesn’t necessarily mean having a wall of trophies, but guns and shooting should be an important part of any Director’s life, whether it be focused on hunting, target shooting, or collecting.
The best candidates are people who have had leadership roles in state or local organizations, while also building or working for successful businesses, or other complementary careers. The ability to effectively speak in public, or experience lobbying politicians, can be useful, but it’s not critical, and that ability or experience doesn’t trump the qualifications listed above.
Good candidates are typically going to be older individuals with significant amounts of experience under their belts, but that does not mean that there isn’t a place for younger candidates who have earned the respect of the community by demonstrating their commitment and abilities. To the contrary, it is critical that the organization have representation from a wide variety of individuals with diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and skill-sets to offer.
Candidates must be nominated either by the Nominating Committee [tightly controlled by insider board members] or by petition of fellow members. It takes signatures from the equivalent of 0.5% of the number of ballots cast in the preceding BoD election, this year that’s about 730 valid signatures from NRA members who are eligible to vote. That might not seem like all that many, after all, there are hundreds of people at gun shows every weekend, but the catch is the “eligible to vote” clause. There are around 100 million gun owners in the U.S., but only about 5.5 million NRA members, and only about half of those members are eligible to vote in NRA elections. That means that among any 100 random gun owners, only about 5 will be NRA members, and only 2 or 3 will be eligible to sign a nominating petition. So, even at a gun show or a busy range, you’ll have to ask about 2,000 people, in order to find 100 eligible voters – and then you have to get their NRA Member Number. Do you carry your NRA membership card or a mailing label from your NRA magazine around with you? Most people don’t. That means that the signature gatherer will have to do some followup to try and collect that information. In the end, it will typically require talking to at least 16,000 people, in order to find 730 NRA members eligible to sign the petition, but many of those won’t sign, because they don’t know enough about the candidate, and aren’t willing to take the time to learn.
There’s no question, getting the valid signatures needed to qualify a petition, is a whole lot of work to go through just to get your name on a ballot to run for a thankless job that pays nothing. Still, last year, past-President Marion Hammer had the temerity to suggest that someone nominated by petition of the members is somehow suspect, and unworthy of the members’ trust.
Of course, getting the petition signatures is only the first hurdle, then comes the matter of being elected. The elections are held by mail among all 2.5 million NRA Voting Members, but only a small segment (historically less than 7%) of those members actually cast a ballot, and the vast majority of those who do vote, get all of their information about the candidates exclusively from NRA magazines – which of course, are controlled by the NRA establishment. This gives incumbents a huge advantage that is very difficult to overcome.
But the current members of the Board of Directors is never going to make the changes needed to make the NRA the principled, effective, organization that the members deserve, so changing the Board has to be the first step in restoring the NRA, and that’s going to take at least 3 or 4 years, even if we’re wildly successful.
Do you know people with the principle, integrity, and experience willing to take on this challenge? Are you ready to go to work to help get them elected? It might be too late for the next election, but there’s one every year, and we need to be ready. Reach out to me or the folks at Savethe2A.org, and let’s get started.