Philosopher and historian George Santayana wrote in 1905 that “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” In that spirit, I thought it would be useful to readers to revisit some of the history of the National Rifle Association starting with the Cincinnati Revolt and going up through the late 1990s. It was in the late 1990s that Wayne LaPierre cemented his role as Executive Vice President of the NRA and effectively stifled any future efforts to remove him.
This history is not unbiased as it comes from the writings of the late Neal Knox. He was one of the architects of the Cincinnati Revolt, served as head of NRA-ILA, was a NRA Board member, was its 1st Vice President, was the man who first hired Wayne LaPierre as a lobbyist, and later became his chief antagonist. Neal was also a gun writer and publisher. He was the founding editor of Gun Week (now The GunMag), was the editor of Wolfe Publishing’s Handloader and Rifle magazines, and later had a column in Shotgun News (now Firearm News). This archived post from Gun Week gives more of Neal’s life and work.
Neal’s son Chris compiled a number of his articles and other written work into a book entitled Neal Knox – The Gun Rights War: Dispatches from the Front Lines 1966-2000. The book was first published in 2009 and then re-released with some updates in a Kindle format in 2019. Chris edited the book and also provided some necessary annotations to put stuff in context.
Through the gracious permission of Chris and Jeff Knox, I will be reprinting selected chapters from the book as it relates to the NRA. I’ll be doing this on an occasional basis so as to spread it out.
It is my belief that knowing some of this history will allow readers to better understand the current NRA, its problems, and what has led to it being sued by New York Attorney General Letitia James. The problems that she points out in her lawsuit didn’t just happen and it is important to realize that.