Every year, there are elections for the NRA board members. There are 76 NRA board members. One third of them are elected each year, plus enough to fill existing vacancies.
I have been pleased with the direction the NRA has taken in the last decade. As an organization, they are more protective of our rights than they were in the 1980's and 1990's. Before 1976, the NRA board was and exclusive club. The board members selected any new board members. The NRA revolt at Cinncinatti in 1976 changed that Board members could be selected by the membership. Those reforms have been eroded. The membership now has much less power than it had in 1980.
This year, there is a separate ballot for the NRA bylaws, with 15 amendments.
The proposed amendment package of the bylaws is an attempt to weaken the power of the NRA membership even more. It is effectively a coup to put all power of the organization in the board of directors. As with any group of part time board members, this means that a small group of insiders will have total control. They will decide who gets on the board and who does not.
The meat of the bylaw amendments are inside the rather lengthy total package. Some reasonable administrative changes are included. You are only allowed to vote yes or no on the entire proposal.
The amendments would make it nearly impossible for the membership to nominate board members outside of the current power structure. Currently, 250 signatures of voting members are necessary for a membership nomination. It is difficult to obtain that many signatures, but not impossible. One of the problems with the suggested amendments is that it raises the number required to .5% of the votes cast in the previous election. That would be 500 or 750 signatures. Members with experience in the process know that this is a very difficult thing to do, unless the candidate is a national celebrity.
Item 12 takes away the possibility of a by law change at the annual meeting. Item 13 makes it virtually impossible for the membership to petition for a change, by requiring the petition to have the signatures of a staggering 5% of the number that voted in the last election. If such a Herculean feat were accomplished, item 14 allows the Board to unilaterally undo the change.
Not all NRA members have voting rights. In order to vote in an NRA election, you have to be either a life member, or have been a member for five consecutive years. Of voting members, about 5% voted in the 2015 elections, so your vote can have disproportionate weight.
Most voting members do not know the people they are voting for. As there are at least 25 slots to fill, (26 in 2017) people depend on the biographies printed in the NRA magazines to determine who to vote for. Prominent in the biographies are whether or not the candidate has been nominated or renominated by the nominating committee.
If you wish to be an effective NRA voter, do not vote for 26 members. It is what most voters do, and it dilutes your vote. The candidates who receive the most votes win election to the board. If you know of only one candidate that you support, vote for that candidate. Just as importantly, do not vote for other candidates that you have little knowledge of. That maximizes the impact of your vote.
The NRA magazines are controlled by the current NRA management. It is the nature of the beast. The NRA management controls who is on the nominating committee. If you want to change in the way the NRA is doing business, it is unlikely that you will obtain change by voting for the establishment candidates.
Jeff Knox of the Firearms Coalition, has watched the NRA board closely for decades. I have always found his recommendations to be well thought out. He is recommending votes for three nominees to the board. From Jeff:
For the Board of Directors election, I am recommending you vote only for the following 3 candidates, and no others: Sean Maloney, Adam Kraut, and Graham Hill. There are others on the ballot who are good, but they don’t need our help.
The recommendation on the package of bylaw amendments is simpler. Just vote no. If you do not know enough to vote for directors, the bylaw vote is a separate ballot. It is easy to fill the circle by the word NO completely, put the ballot in the envelope, sign it, and drop it in the mail.
©2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.