(Manassas, VA, May 15, 2007) As I approach my 47th birthday, the same age my father was when he was fired from NRA in 1982, I’d like to step away from the news for a moment to thank the readers of this column and share some personal perspectives.
It’s been over two years since my father passed away and I still grapple with the reality of his death every day. I really miss my dad.
In those two years, the rest of the family and I have tried hard to carry on his legacy in the gun rights arena and I am quite proud of the success we have seen with the growth of the Firearms Coalition and the respect we have earned in Congress and various state legislatures along with the acceptance we have garnered from other gun rights leaders and organizations. I’ve been pleased with the comments that Chris and I have received about our Knox Reports and other political writing and, while it has been slow going, Chris and I both have been trying to complete books that we each started working on with Dad three or four years ago; Chris’s should finally be to the printer very soon.
One of the things that set Dad apart from many in the gun rights movement was that Dad was not motivated along strictly philosophical, ideological, or political lines, nor was he just a hunter, just a target shooter, or just a self-defense advocate; Neal Knox was a true believer and a real gunny; he did it all. Dad was a national champion benchrest shooter, a top-notch skeet competitor, a recognized authority on handloading, a multi-continent hunter of both birds and big game, a champion high-power rifle shooter, fine pistol shot, and a court certified firearms expert. There was little in the shooting sports which he had not tried and nothing that he had tried which he had not excelled at.
As a kid I faced challenges with diagnosed learning disabilities and discovered through hard experience that if I just listened and tried to absorb what my teachers were pouring over me – even when I didn’t understand it – my mind would eventually begin putting the pieces together and allow me to not only grasp, but often master the subject. Unfortunately this mastery usually didn’t appear until long after grades had been assigned. It took a while, but I eventually learned to look at the condition as a gift rather than a curse.
Over the years I have been blessed to enjoy the tutelage and patronage of, and exposure to, great shooters, political activists, and communicators like my parents, Neal and Jay Knox, good friends and mentors Tanya and George Metaksa, Alan Gottlieb, Bob Hunnicutt and Tom Gresham. That exposure, along with my natural love of shooting and the beauty and brilliance of the design and craftsmanship of firearms has filled me with information which has been coalescing into knowledge, knowledge which uniquely qualifies me for the roles in which I now find myself – even though Dad and I had planned for much more specific preparation before I was to step into this role.
One of the reasons I moved back to Virginia 4 years ago was to begin that training process and relieve Dad of some of his day-to-day writing duties so he would have more time to work on his books and – more importantly – we would have more time to shoot and begin writing about our first love, shooting, rather than politics. That idea didn’t work out as we planned and I found myself, with the family’s help, suddenly trying to fill Dad’s extremely large shoes without the benefit of either his political experience and knowledge, or his impressive firearms qualifications.
Now that much of the political portion of my training has begun to kick in and our plans for The Firearms Coalition are beginning to come together, I am forcing myself to dedicate a portion of my time to develop my shooting skills in a broader array of disciplines. I can justify this expenditure of time and money by selling articles about my learning experiences to some of the better gun magazines (please buy extra copies of these magazines and send letters of praise to the editors for publishing my articles – thanks).
I know I can never replace Neal Knox or completely fill his shoes, but I am grateful for the opportunity to walk in his tracks and take up the task of breaking trail to carry his legacy and his cause a little farther down the line. A large portion of that gratitude goes out to the readers, editor, and publishers of Shotgun News for letting me continue writing this column.
I miss my dad every day. Thank you for allowing me to honor him in this way.