I have long thought that the NRA’s Board of Directors is too large and too unwieldy to be effective. Given how they have kowtowed to hired staff like Wayne LaPierre and their hired gun William Brewer III, I think this ineffectiveness is pretty obvious.
I’ve long held that it would be more effective to set up the board(s) similar to colleges and universities where they have a large Board of Visitors whose job it is to fundraise and gather support for the school with a small Board of Trustees whose job it is to actually manage the school in conjunction with administrators.
Jeff Knox of the Firearm Coalition has been a life-long observer of the NRA from both the inside and outside. Jeff’s proposal is similar but goes further than mine. He envisions three separate boards with varying levels of authority.
From his proposal:
The Honorary Board would be composed of celebrities, politicians, and high-dollar donors. As the name suggests, membership on the Honorary Board would be honorary, with members responsible for being goodwill ambassadors and fundraisers for the Association. They would have no role in the governance of the Association and would be elected or removed by the Advisory Board, with no limits on the number of members serving on it. They would not get travel reimbursement.
The Advisory Board would be a representative board of about 52 to 55 members, each elected by, and representing the NRA members of their home state or US territory. The term of service for Advisory Board members would be 2 years, with approximately half of the seats up for election each year. This board would be responsible for doing most of what the current Board of Directors does now, forming committees and subcommittees to hash out details and formulate policy and position proposals. The key difference between this board and the current board would be that the Advisory Board would not be making the final decisions, instead advising the Managing Board.
The Managing Board would be composed of 9 members, each serving a 3-year term, with one-third of the seats up for election every year. The members of the Managing Board would be nominated by the Advisory Board’s Nominating Committee or by petition of the members, and elected by the Advisory Board. The Managing Board would be responsible for electing the Executive Vice President, and for setting policy for the Association, as well as overseeing all aspects of Association business.
Jeff is explicit that his proposal is a basis for discussion and is meant to generate ideas. He doesn’t see it as a be-all and end-all proposal.
He goes on to add about the composition of the Advisory and Managing Boards:
The Advisory Board would be comprised primarily of people with strong ties and experience in the shooting sports and firearms politics, and the Managing Board would be comprised of people with solid firearms backgrounds and credentials, and equally solid business and government experience.
I think Jeff’s tripartite approach is a good start.
I do have reservations about two things. With the exception of just a few state affiliates like those in California, New York, Illinois, and Massachusetts, most NRA state affiliates are next to useless when it comes to actually fighting for gun rights. They tend to leave the fight for gun rights to the NRA-ILA representative serving multiple states and maybe a paid lobbyist. The fight for gun rights in many states is actually being done by non-NRA affiliates like Grass Roots North Carolina, AZ Citizens Defense League, and the Virginia Citizen Defense League
Most NRA state affiliates’ forte is competition and maybe training. I don’t want to call them “fudds” but many are still stuck in a 1950s mindset. They are totally ignorant of Gun Culture v2.0 and the millions of new gun owners who bought their first firearm in 2020-21.
My second reservation is an extremely strong objection to having the Managing Board elected by the Advisory Board. Never, ever should the voting members of the NRA not have the final say on the election of the Board that actually manages the NRA. I do like the idea that people can be nominated by petition for the Managing Board and I would make it a reasonable number that is obtainable.
As Jeff said, this is only a start. Unfortunately, it might take a court-order reorganization to make any of it happen.