By Kenneth Ross
“Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
The National Rifle Association does not publish (since 2013) a listing of its Board of Directors. They have 76 directors, 25 elected each year by a mailed ballot, for three-year terms. Additionally, one member is elected for one year, at the annual convention, sort of a rescue for the executives, saving one person voted out by the members.
At the annual meeting in Dallas, Texas, in May, 2018, twenty of the directors first or last reelected in 2015 were reelected for another term. This is typical of the Board – long-term members.
Famous long-term directors include actor Tom Selleck, singer Ted Nugent, former NASCAR driver Richard Childress, and former basketball player Karl Malone. Also, former or current congressmen Bob Barr, Dan Boren, Larry Craig, Curtis Jenkins, Allen West and Don Young. And, of course, Iran-Contra convicted felon Oliver North, who was elected as president of the Board for the next year.
Nor, as is often exclaimed in social media, is the Board mostly representative of the arms industry. There are some – Ronnie G. Barrett, Pete Brownell, and Robert A. Nosler, representing their own companies(1), and Duane Liptak of Magpul Industries. The influence of the gun manufacturers can be better measured in moneys contributed to the NRA. The Board is mostly politicians, shooting range owners, writers of gun magazines, attorneys, lobbyists and police officers of one sort or another (including Corrections and Fish and Game).
The May vote could be seen as a won for new blood. Three of the top five votes were for new directors – Carrie Lightfoot, the “Well-Armed Woman”, Duane Liptak, mentioned above, and Julie Golob, world shooting champion. The other new directors are Kristy Titus, from the Outdoor Channel, Il Ling New, professional shooting guide, and Dean Cain, an actor best known for Lois and Clark.
The vote also could be seen as against long-term members. The voters rejected Grover Norquist, Robert Wos and John Cushman. Former president and conservative commentator David Keane barely made it, coming in 25th. Former president Ronald Schmeits came in 26th, replacing recently deceased actor E. Lee Ermey. Long-term member Herb Lanford, rejected in the vote, become this year’s one-year 76th member.(2)
But, one way or another, 20 directors were reelected, and 2 decided not to run. All the directors who were not reelected, and those who won with the smallest number of votes, also were in the bottom rungs in 2015, except Keane.
The Illusion of Choice
Much of the real power remains in the hands of the executive officers, and especially EVP Wayne LaPierre. Also very powerful is the PR firm of Ackerman McQueen, which has driven much of the media narrative, and the NRA’s expansion into NRA TV. It reportedly created the public persona of LaPierre.
The Board is incestuous. The voting is hardly democratic. The NRA Board’s Nominating Committee picks almost all of the candidates, including, usually, all of the Board’s 25 directors who are running for reelection. This year it nominated 33 people, and two were put on the ballot by petition from members. (These petition candidates rarely win.)
If one votes for (at most) 25 of 35, one is not really choosing the winners, but rather the 10 losing candidates. The only real competition is at the margins at the 25th vote getter, and the difference between the 25th vote getter and the 28th may be less than 1000 votes.
Those eligible to vote are not all NRA members, but rather life members and those who have been members for over five years. If the membership numbers publicized by the NRA are correct, much less than 10% of those eligible actually vote – 111k in 2017.
Women and Minorities
Despite its reputation as a white men’s club, the NRA Board has several women who are long term members, but there has clearly been a concerted effort to increase the number of women on the Board in the last few years. The number is now 17, or 22% of the Board. One could speculate that, in the mind of the NRA MAGA’s, a woman with a gun is ‘hot’, and nowhere near as threatening as young black men with guns.
The Board also has four black male directors. It also has two men, and one women, who are at least partially Asian.(3)
The Craziest of the Crazies
You would expect an organization which promotes guns and opposes gun restrictions to have its share of crazies, and the NRA Board does not disappoint. The new president, Oliver North, was convicted of illegally selling arms to Iran to finance the illegal overthrow of the socialist government of Nicaragua. Allen West left the military rather than be court marshaled for torture.
Ted Nugent threatened the life of the last president, and likes under-aged girls (aside from being racist, anti-Semitic, misogynistic and xenophobic, traits common in the NRA/MAGA community). Larry Craig left Congress after being arrested for his wide bathroom stance. Brown, Ross and Young have supported anti-government militia groups. (4)
NRA Board of Directors 2018 (5)
Joe Allbaugh director, Oklahoma Board of Corrections former campaign manager, George W. Bush @joe_allbaugh
William H Allen retired inspector with Shelby County, (Memphis) TN Sheriff’ office
Dr. Thomas P Arvas New Mexico Game and Fish Commission Albuquerque NM Tomarvas@hotmail.com
Scott L Bach president, Assn of NJ Rifle Clubs. email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.bachbio.com
William A. Bachenberg – founder, former CEO, Data Based Systems International, Bethlehem, PA. Owner, Lehigh Valley Sporting Clays. email@example.com
Carol Bambery General Counsel, Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies CarolB@mcrgo.org, law professor, Michigan State, founder, Michigan Coalition Responsible Gun Owner Foundations. firstname.lastname@example.org
Bob Barr. former congressman, GA @bobbarr email@example.com
Ronnie G. Barrett founder of Barrett Firearms Manufacturing Christiana, Tennessee firstname.lastname@example.org
Clel Baudle Iowa House of Representatives Clel.email@example.com
J Kenneth Blackwell former Ohio Sec of State. jkblackwell@Townhall.com. @kenblackwell on Facebook
Matt Blunt former Governor of Missouri lobbyist for car industry @MattBlunt
Dan Boren former congressman, OK President of Corporate Development for the Chickasaw Nation firstname.lastname@example.org
Lt. Col. Robert K. Brown. founder/editor/publisher of Soldier of Fortune magazine email@example.com
Pete Brownell past president, NRA president, Brownell’s, leading arms manufacturer On Facebook. @petebrownell
Dave Butz former football player Belleville, IL http://www.davebutz.com/certified-instructor.php
Dean Cain Malibu, California actor – @RealDeanCain
Ted W Carter former Navy officer Jacksonville, FL on Facebook
Richard Childress former NASCAR driver @Rchildress3 on Facebook
Patricia A Clark hospital laboratory technician Newtown, Connecticut firstname.lastname@example.org
Allan D Cors Retired SVP, Corning, Inc. amassed one of the largest military vehicle collections past president NRA
Charles L Cotton retired attorney who resides in Friendswood, Texas TexasCHLForum.com
Professor David G Coy email@example.com CPA, prof at Adrian College firstname.lastname@example.org on Facebook
Larry Craig New West Strategies, lobbyist former congressman, scandal
Edie P Fleeman principal, Black Hawk Rifle Club Inc. Durham, NC
Joel Friedman former owner, Mikawaya Ice Cream joel4nra.com on Facebook
Sandra Froman attorney, Tucson AZ, past president NRA email@example.com
Julie Golob world shooting champion. @julieG1 juliegolob.com
Marion Hammer Florida lobbyist for guns. past president NRA MPHammer1@aol.com
Kim Rhode Harryman Olympic shooter Big Bear Lake, CA on Facebook @KimRhode
Maria Heil Second Amendment Sisters New Freedom, Pennsylvania on Facebook
Graham Hill founder, lobbying firm, Ice Miller Strategies Director of Federal Affairs, Fifty Caliber firstname.lastname@example.org on Facebook
Dwight Van Horn retired deputy sheriff, LA Castaic CA email@example.com
Susan Howard actress Boerne TX
Curtis S Jenkins former House of Reps Forsyth, GA firstname.lastname@example.org
David A. Keene Opinion Editor of The Washington Times past president NRA keened@carmengrp com http://davidakeene.com
Tom King NY state legislature lobbyist East Greenbush, NY on Facebook
Timothy Knight president of the Basic Freedom Defense Fund,Colorado on Facebook
Herbert A Lanford Jr former president of Gun Owners of South Carolina Columbia SC
Willes K Lee Chairman Hawaii GOP, retired U.S. Army Lt Col on Facebook email@example.com
Carrie Lightfoot Scottsdale, Arizona SHOT Show, The Well Armed Woman @WellArmedWoman Scottsdale Arizona thewellarmedwoman.com Facebook/TheWellArmedWoman
Duane Liptak, Jr. EVP of Magpul Industries (gun magazines and accessories) 877-4MAGPUL magpul.com. Austin, Texas @Magpul_HQ
Karl Malone former basketball player Salt Lake City UT @TheDeliverer_32
Sean Maloney attorney, founder, Second Call Defense, pre-paid legal defense for guns on Facebook @SeanMaloneyNRA
Robert E Mansell former Chairman of the Arizona Game and Fish Department Commission
Carolyn D. Meadows 2nd Vice Chair of the American Conservative Union Alexandria, VA
William A. Miller, Jr. president of the Beckley Gun Club WVA insurance agent
Owen ”Buz” Mills owner of Gunsite Academy, urban warfare Arizona, ran for governor firstname.lastname@example.org
Craig Morgan country music singer. on Facebook @cmorganmusic http://www.craigmorgan.com
Il Ling New, professional shooting guide, Gunsite Academy Rangemaster, Arizona @MiniNew
Oliver North. Iran/contra scandal, felon current president, NRA. @OliverNorthFNC http://olivernorth.com
Robert A. Nosler bullet and rifle manufacturer Nosler, Inc
Johnny Nugent former Indiana State Senator Lawrenceburg, Indiana on Facebook
Ted Nugent Rock musician. @TedNugent NugentUSA@cs.com
Lance Olson former police officer and US Marshall Marengo IA On Facebook
Melanie Pepper wife of oil man Houston, TX
James W. Porter II Birmingham attorney, past president NRA email@example.com
Peter “Jay” Printz former sheriff in Montana on Facbook. firstname.lastname@example.org
Todd J Rathner lobbyist for the NRA in the Arizona state legislature) T. Jeffrey Safari Company on Facebook
Col. Wayne Anthony Ross rejected Alaska AG, started state militia, attorney, Alaska email@example.com
Carl Rowan, Jr. VP, private security firm Securitas former police, FBI
Dr. Don Saba research scientist, director of Sierra Bioresearch Company, Tucson, AZ
William H Satterfield attorney, Balch & Bingham LLP, Birmingham. firstname.lastname@example.org
Ronald L Schmeits President & CEO, International Bank New Mexico past president NRA
Esther Schneider President, Strategic Alliance Arms, LLC former ED, Hoosier Lottery Austin, TX
Steven C Schreiner president, Firearms Coalition of Colorado Englewood, CO
Tom Selleck actor Thousand Oaks, CA
John C Sigler chairman, GOP State Comm of DE lawyer in MD and DE email@example.com
Leroy Sisco started Military Warriors Support Foundation former TX
State Guard Lt General Boerne, TX
Bart Skelton author at RifleShooter New Mexico @Bart4570
Kristy Titus facebook The Outdoor Channel’s Team Elk, Pursue the Wild star- past President of the Safari Club International (SCI) High Desert @KristyTitus http://kristytitus.com/ #KristyTitus Facebook
Blaine Wade police chief, Bristol, TN firstname.lastname@example.org
Linda Walker Central Ohio Chair, Buckeye Firearms Association Alexandria, Ohio LWalker@BuckeyeFirearms.org
Howard J Walter retired Lt Com, Navy, Novelist, Flat Rock, North Carolina
Heidi E Washington attorney director, Michigan corrections East Lansing @HeidiWashington
Allen West ex-congressman, CEO, National Center for Policy Analysis on Facebook @AllenWest
Don Young Congressman, Alaska. @repdonyoung
1) Barrett Firearms, Browell, Inc, Hornady Manufacturing
2) Mercedes Schlapp, working for the White House, and Steve Hornady of Hornady Ammunition chose not to run for election. If you are counting, there was an extra vacancy. In 2017, director Joseph P DeBergalis Jr. become the Deputy Executive Director for Operations.
3) I have excluded Hispanics because its definition as a race is fluid. Latinos can be pure Native, European, African or Asian, or any combination of these.
David Neiwert, “An Undercurrent of Extremism Runs Through The NRA’s Board of Directors”, Crooks and Liars, 9/16/11. Last accessed 6/4/18.
5) My 2017 listing was developed from reports of the prior three elections, but validated by three sources. To this I have added the results of the 2018 election.
Confirmations of the 2017 Board:
By Adam Kraut, reform candidate for the Board in 2017 and 2018. No date given, but last updated after the 9/9/17 meeting. Last accessed 6/4/18.
The 2018 election:
Written by staff, 4/23/2018. Last accessed 6/4/18.
Chris Eger, Guns, Inc., “Golob, Liptak among new faces on NRA Board of Directors”, 5/9/2018. Last accessed 6/4/18.