NRA History Revisited

NRA Board of Directors (courtesy

Jeff Knox writes  [via]: On January 15, 2018, Marion Hammer, NRA past president and a current member of both the NRA Board of Directors and Executive Council, published an editorial on Ammoland Shooting Sports News. The article warned of current and past threats to the NRA, and listing a slate of candidates she supports for the upcoming NRA Board of Directors election . . .

Mrs. Hammer is free to endorse any Board candidate she likes. But in her endorsement she can’t rewrite history to suit herself, nor can she expect to cast aspersions on the motives of good people without challenge

In her comments, Ms. Hammer carefully avoids naming names, but anyone who has been paying any attention at all to NRA politics – past and present – knows exactly whom she is referring to.

She begins with muddy praise for the stalwart NRA members who staged a revolt at the NRA Members’ Meeting in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1977. It was the night when the members wrested control of the NRA from a hidebound and self-perpetuating management and put the Association on the road to being the premier defender of the human right to armed self-defense.

Then she jumps forward to 1997 to talk about an attempted “coup” by a group of “dissident malcontents,” but fails to mention that both actions were staged by many of the same people, and for many of the same reasons.

I put “coup” in quotes in the second instance because the group that she claims was staging the “coup” was the duly elected Officers and Directors attempting, unsuccessfully, to exercise their fiduciary responsibility against actions by paid staff and critical contractors with multimillion-dollar contracts.

The 1997 fight was not a coup; it was a mutiny.

In contrast to Cincinnati, the prize in 1977 was not the heart, soul, and destiny of the NRA, but control of the organization’s checkbook and prudent management of its resources. The goal in both instances was to give the members control over their NRA. The 1997 action included First Vice President Neal Knox, Second Vice President Albert Ross, and a majority of the NRA Board of Directors.

Many on the Board wanted to fire Wayne for his duplicity. Neal Knox was not among those. But, history is written by the victors, so the attempts of the Board of Directors to demand fiscal accountability from their hired staff was later reported as a “coup.”

The core issue was how the NRA’s PR company, Ackerman McQueen, was drawing millions of dollars a year from the organization and improperly controlling NRA staff. The Board directed Wayne to sever ties with Ack-Mac, and Wayne promised to do so, then claimed to have done so, by bringing in a new PR company called Mercury Group.

The “new” PR company turned out to be a wholly owned subsidiary of Ack-Mac, with all of the same players in all of the same positions, still bleeding the association of the same millions of dollars.

The Finance Committee responded to the charade by calling an emergency meeting to demand accountability, demand dismissal of Ack-Mac, and require the treasurer to pull NRA’s meager remaining funds out of risky investments.

Marion Hammer, as President of the Board, used her power to push that meeting into executive session to quash the reports from the meeting, then at the subsequent Board meeting, used her power to suppress debate, spread disinformation, and bully members to her position.

Read her editorial. She brags about her use of heavy-handed tactics.

Many on the Board wanted to fire Wayne for his duplicity. Neal Knox was not among those. He merely wanted Wayne to obey the instructions of the Board, and he was willing to use the threat of firing Wayne as a lever to force him to comply, and he was ready to follow through on the threat if Wayne balked.

But Wayne, backed by Ack-Mac, other vendors, and allies on the Board, many of whom had business dealings with vendors, had sown enough confusion to keep the Board from forcing him out. The bylaws required a 2/3 majority vote to fire the EVP, and while a substantial majority was in favor of firing him, they couldn’t muster the 2/3rds needed to do it.

Rather than taking my word for what happened in, and leading up to that meeting, you can get the story from one of Wayne and Marion’s staunchest allies in that fight. Writer/director, and NRA Board member John Milius, who was interviewed by a reporter for the Washington Post in 2000, and provided a stunningly frank description of the machinations he and others engaged in.

John Milius

He also described the situation as a coup attempt, then said: “So we used our best techniques: lying, cheating and disinformation. I didn’t tell the truth for weeks.”

The story goes on to explain how Milius and Ack-Mac manager Tony Makris invited a “Knox loyalist” out to dinner in LA and convinced him that Wayne would be willing to go quietly if he were provided with a large enough severance package.

As anticipated, the “Knox loyalist” spread the word that he had brokered a deal that would save face for everyone and began lobbying for Wayne’s severance. But when the meeting commenced, Wayne rose publicly to declare himself shocked that the Knox faction would stoop so low as to try and bribe him.

Milius reported that LaPierre gamed the moment perfectly, and, with Mrs. Hammer’s help, was able to cling to his position as they headed into the Annual Meeting of Members in Seattle.

At that 1997 meeting, two unprecedented events took place:

Charlton Heston

First, a person who received write-in votes in the Board of Directors election was deemed to be qualified to run for the 76th Director seat that is elected at the Annual Meeting.

The bylaws said that only people who were candidates in the election were eligible, and that had always been interpreted to mean people who had been nominated by the Nominating Committee or by petition of the members, but this year it suddenly included anyone who had received write-in votes.

And by an amazing coincidence, one of Tony Makris’ PR clients happened to get some write-in votes. That client was Charlton Heston.

The second unprecedented event at that meeting was the election of a brand new Board member to the leadership. In a surprise move – which in retrospect should have been no surprise at all – Mr. Heston was nominated for the office of First Vice President, to run head-to-head against Neal Knox.

Heston won that election by four votes, and immediately left the meeting to jet back to LA and appear on a radio talk show, during which he repeatedly stated that it was inappropriate or civilians to own AK47 type rifles. He eventually learned his script better, and the following year stepped up to become President of the NRA.

In her rewrite of history, Mrs. Hammer is correct that the fight was primarily about money, and that one side was trying to personally profit off of the NRA. I believe that’s true, and here’s the record on that.

As a result of the “Knox faction” raising a stink about the NRA’s finances, the treasurer moved funds out of those risky investments right before the markets crashed.

Over the next several years, NRA engaged in a barrage of cheesy sweepstakes, fire-sales on memberships, and heavy-handed direct-mail fundraising to rebuild their depleted coffers, eventually returning to solvency – and making Ack-Mac a huge pile of money in the process.

Marion Hammer, who has been paid by NRA to run the Unified Sportsmen of Florida since Neal Knox recruited her for the job back in 1979, saw her paycheck go up from $30k a year to $120k a year after she sided with Harlon Carter against Neal Knox in 1983.

It has been reported that it is now between $250k and $300k per year. So far as I am aware, she is the only director of a state organization to ever receive direct or indirect payment from the NRA.

Harlon Carter

In 1997 Wayne LaPierre was being paid about $250k per year, up from the $186k that had been paid to his predecessor a dozen years prior.

After Neal Knox and his allies had been purged from the Board (with “Don’t Vote For” lists published in full-page ads in NRA magazines – paid for by whom?), Wayne’s compensation jumped to $400k.

Then a couple of years later to $800k, leveled at around $900k for several years, and is now reported to be approximately $1.4 million, though a couple of years ago, due to some retirement pay-out, he received a cool 4 million dollars in one year.

Salaries of other top NRA officials have kept pace with Wayne’s.

As First Vice President of NRA, Neal Knox never received a salary. He had a small travel and expense account, and at one point he and Marion Hammer joined forces to ask the Board to approve a small stipend for them and other officers who dedicated a significant amount of time and talent working for NRA, but that modest request was turned down by their fellow Board members.

During the five years Charlton Heston served as President, he traveled exclusively by private jet and limousine. NRA paid for that, along with Presidential Suite accommodations, and private security.

There are people with ulterior motives involved in NRA. Some accuse me of profiting because my organization, The Firearms Coalition, gets a slight bump in donations when I publish articles critical of NRA.

That’s probably true, but my annual salary from The Firearms Coalition is less than what Wayne LaPierre is paid every month, so it’s a bit of a different ballpark.

Mrs. Hammer offered her list of candidates she encourages you to vote for, so here is my list:

  1. Adam Kraut.

  2. …….

That’s it. While there are several other people, both incumbents and new candidates, whom I like and would be comfortable endorsing, this year I’m bullet-voting for Adam, and I encourage you to do the same.

If there are others whom you know personally and appreciate, throw them a vote, but remember that if they are likely to be toward the bottom of the pile, a vote for them could bump Adam out of the running.

There are even people on Mrs. Hammer’s list that I like and have endorsed in the past, but it’s probably a pretty safe bet to avoid voting for any long-term incumbent.

That’s probably the best way to push out the “enemy within.”

Another good idea is to ask every candidate to comment on the editorial. Simple question: Do they agree with this version of NRA history, and do they think that people who are critical of the NRA leadership are trying to destroy the organization?

Go to Read his bylaw proposals. Take action.

Jeff Knox
Jeff Knox

It’s your NRA. VOTE!

About Jeff Knox:

Jeff Knox is a second-generation political activist and director of The Firearms Coalition. His father Neal Knox led many of the early gun rights battles for your right to keep and bear arms. Read Neal Knox – The Gun Rights War.

The Firearms Coalition is a loose-knit coalition of individual Second Amendment activists, clubs and civil rights organizations. Founded by Neal Knox in 1984, the organization provides support to grassroots activists in the form of education, analysis of current issues, and with a historical perspective of the gun rights movement. The Firearms Coalition has offices in Buckeye, Arizona and Manassas, VA. Visit: 


  1. avatar Rick the Bear says:

    I’m definitely voting for Adam, and, perhaps a couple of others.

    It was saddening to read about Heston. I thought that he was the real deal. I guess that I was naive then.

    1. avatar anonymoose says:

      A basement full of cool registered MGs for me, but no AKs for thee!

    2. avatar FedUp says:

      Rather than vote for only one candidate, vote for every petition nominee to increase the chance of upsetting a committee nominee.

  2. avatar Sam I Am says:

    I do not know, personally, any of the people named in the “history” lesson. I do know of one person named who is guilty of dealing from the bottom of the deck, and has been identified openly as such (that is, actions are public record). However, the point here is that the prime directive of any organization is to survive; intact if possible. Stayin’ alive becomes the primary consideration, mission is negotiable. Seen it up close and personal.

    At one time, I was a fund raiser for a well known charitable group. It was an umbrella of charities in the local area. As an orientation, I visited each agency to learn the mission, goals and challenges. The singular characteristic that knitted them all together was a complete lack of coordination, even though many of those served by one agency were also served by another (or more). A person seeking assistance from several agencies had to endure the near duplicate intake process, answer the same questions, provide the same documents. As time went on, I learned that the agencies considered every “client” as private property, not to be shared with any other agency. Getting together with the IT department of the umbrella agency, we developed a program (code) that would present each “client” (assistance seeker) with a single intake form to be used by any other agency the “client” might approach. It was then that I learned about “private property”, and that the real mission of the umbrella organization was to support each agencies declaration that they were the “premier agency” in their specific area of interest. Bottom line, even the “altruistic” charitable organizations in town had self-preservation as the premier consideration, not service to the community (which was merely a tool to prop up the agency). NRA is no different; the prime directive is to survive as an organization, and sustain the perks of the leadership.

    1. avatar Mark N. says:

      Bureaucracies are self-perpetuating.

  3. avatar B-Rad says:

    So I guess that’s why the Russians were giving all of that money. Money, money, money.

    1. avatar jwm says:

      To the clintons.

  4. avatar ATFAgentBob says:

    I’m voting Adam. I just hate that the NRA has become this farce of what they always should’ve been. Really, we should not have to worry about who owns the NRA board we should be able to vote for anyone and know they have our best interests at heart. Instead we get a group that will publicly bargain away our rights while we pay for the privilege. Rather than fight for a full repeal of the NFA and GCA they stab us in the back with a bumpstock ban and the continued existence of the NFA. Don’t say they’ll fight for full auto fun for all because they won’t, simply put they have too many members with too much invested in their precious machine guns who will fight tooth and nail to protect the value of that all original M16A1. So long as this continues we’ll never see full auto that the normal workin stiff can afford.

  5. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

    Know Marion Hammer,Yes I do she is the enemy within the NRAe along with at the very least Wayne LaChamberlin,they represent the Stand and Capitulate NRAe.
    My only vote this year is a Bullet vote for Mr. Adam Kraut ,hopefully he is a start to the end of the establishment Negotiating Rights Away since 1934.

    1. avatar Nanashi says:

      LaPierre Laval works way better as a name for him.

      1. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

        Perhaps but either way he’s all bluster while in the end it’s capitulate.

  6. avatar ironicatbest says:

    The NRA lost all credibility with me when I personally got lied to. I hope they go broke

  7. avatar John Yerby says:

    It is difficult for me to decide who is persuasive, who is lying and who is telling the truth. I’ve been a member and life member for many years, and have been to conventions and shook hands with Wayne and a few others. I looked them in the eyes and they seemed credible to me.
    Out here in Texas, New Mexico, and bordering on Mexico, we don’t have the opportunity to have direct contact with the managers of our great and trusted NRA, but may GOD be with you all and guide you to act on our behalf.

    1. avatar aj franklin says:

      Mathew 7:15 ¶ Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

      16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

      what fruits has Wayne la Piere bore? NFA repeal, national reciprocity, out reach to different demographics, influencing the government to allow new imports? the best thing you can say about Wayne is we haven’t lost ground yet.

    2. avatar Beeroy says:

      Really? You believed all those mailings claiming UN troops were coming for your guns at any moment? That’s one of the things that got me calling BS. That and the mailings wanting me to join…years after I became a life member.

      1. avatar Sam I Am says:

        Glad I’m not the only one. Went through re-fi with the mortgage company, and now they tell me they cannot stop sending me advertisements for mortgage re-finance (had re-financed 60 days prior). Asked them to send me some sort of reimbursement for being the middle man between the company and Waste Management. Crickets.

  8. avatar Det. Nick Valentine says:

    “The 1997 fight was not a coup; it was a mutiny.”

    Coup: a sudden, violent, and illegal seizure of power

    Mutiny: an open rebellion against the proper authorities

    Sounds like these guys do not meet either definition based on what you are laying out. They aren’t rebelling against the authorities if they are themselves the authorities. The also aren’t seizing power illegally if they are rightful holding of said power.

  9. avatar Silverwarloc says:

    I’ve always wanted to join the NRA. I’ve even considered USCCA. However, I’ve been very hesitant because of issues like this. If I’m going to join a group, I want to make sure that my dues are spent wisely. Thus, when I came across Adam at The Gun Collective, I started following him. I’ve watched every video he put out. His philosophy is what drew me in. I’m even a subscriber to his site. However, if I join now, my vote won’t count unless I become a lifetime member. I’m not sure if it’s even worth it now. Any suggestions?

    1. avatar IamNabil says:

      Don’t conflate USCCA with NRA. USCCA is a company sells insurance. The NRA is a lobbying firm that sells advocacy. They are different things.

      1. avatar silverwarloc says:


  10. avatar Felixd says:

    No matter the argument I’m staying with the NRA. It is the single gun rights organization that has had the most positive affect on maintaining, improving, and defending our liberties. Whether one likes the organization or not is moot at this point. The struggle is too great. The fight must continue. Infighting only helps our elitist opponent and this is a far too dirty business to be distracted.

    No organization is without sin. No organization is beyond improvement. But, having witnessed the Cincinnati Reforms, I don’t see us at that same place today.

    1. avatar Joshua Levy says:

      I’m not sure where you have been getting your information. With every decade that passes the NRA makes things progressively worse. First they helped to write the NFA. Then they helped to write the Gun Control Act of 1968. Next they pushed for FOPA to be signed into law even after the machine gun ban poison pill was inserted into the bill. They promised they would fight it and beat it in the courts but 30 years later they have yet to lift a single finger in the effort to get rid of the Hughes Amendment. Next they helped write the Clinton Assault Weapons Ban and the Brady Bill and gave us the NICS system as well. Now they are pushing for unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats in the ATF to ban bump stocks and other “rate increasing devices” by doing an end run around the legislative branch and purposely misinterpreting the law to mean something it clearly does not. In addition to that the NRA is pushing the so called “fix NICS” bill. Over 90 percent of the time when someone tries to buy a gun and gets delayed or denied by NICS it is a false positive and this awful bill being pushed with the full support of the NRA will only make it worse. In light of all this how have they ever done any good for gun rights?

  11. Like any bureaucrats, Wayne & Co. will do what’s best for themselves. Fortunately, their self-interest presently seems to coincide more or less with the members’. While there is doubtless room for the sort of improvement Kraut represents, the perfect should not be enemy of the good.

  12. avatar aircooled says:

    Interesting insight. I had dropped my NRA membership during the late ’90s because I felt that the organization was squandering my/our money. This was based on my limited view from the outside. I had no idea what was actually happening on the inside.

  13. avatar Firefly says:

    Definite “bullet vote” for Adam Kraut coming from me.

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