My First Rodeo
By Ron Carter
Following the 2019 NRA Members Meeting something had to be done. I had just debated an NRA past President. I, who have never been so much as the president of a book club, just debated Jim Porter! Porter had defended Wayne LaPierre eloquently, too! Porter said that he had been “in the trenches with LaPierre” and “this wasn’t his first rodeo.” I couldn’t have agreed more on those points. He had my full attention. He is accomplished, intelligent and professional. Still, something was out of place. Something was very wrong. This was the Members Meeting, not a Directors meeting, and all those rising to defend LaPierre weren’t members… they were past presidents and directors.
As a young child my NRA membership began like many of yours. One Christmas morning I opened a present from my father: an NRA membership. At the time it may have paled in comparison to my Ninja Turtle Fan Club membership, but for the first time in my life I realized that there were people opposed to our constitutionally protected right and I almost didn’t believe it. My father and I hunted Arkansas white tail deer in the Fall and Winter as though it were the only thing anyone ever did besides fishing. I sat on the deer stand the following day reading my little NRA membership card and understood the correlation between the NRA and the need to defend our God-given rights.
In 2013, after a series of heinous massacres, I pondered the question “what would I do?” Being a family man I knew I had to at least be prepared. A few months later I had purchased my first carry gun, completed several training courses and obtained my Colorado concealed handgun permit. I had done something but that something had ultimately started my new old hobby. My time was soon consumed by reloading, IDPA competitions, watching Hickok45 and working part time at a local gun shop. By 2015 I had obtained my first NRA credential, Range Safety Officer, but that would soon be overshadowed by others. The question “what would I do” had become “what will I do?”
I found the 2016 Presidential election a relief… briefly. My naivety had thought that the attacks on our second amendment rights would somehow cease. I found it exceptionally painful that after winning so heavily in the elections of pro-second amendment politicians that not one federal de-regulation occurred. Had the NRA simply quit after they had won the electoral fight? Were the hearing protection act, national reciprocity and the abolition of other obvious infringements not what the NRA had fought to see through? Something was wrong. That’s when I began to see the problems within the NRA for myself.
Carry Guard and blended learning added to the list of failures that the NRA had made. As an instructor I had a back row seat to these and wondered what would be done to fix the problem. At any other company these failures would have resulted in the firing of upper level management. At any other company the persisting failure would be countered with apologies, incentives and even rebranding. Yet the NRA did nothing. Then enter the bump stock debacle, ERPOs, and even now a looming silencer prohibition. It has become obvious to me that things inside the NRA must change or this downward spiral will only continue.
When Jim Porter had finished speaking at the Members Meeting, then VP, Richard Childress followed Roberts’ rules and asked if there were any arguments to the motion to go into executive session. I spoke. It was the first time I had attended an NRA Annual Meeting. It was the first time that I had spoken in front of such a crowd. I stated my name, where I was from and what I rose in favor of. Marion Hammer and Jim Porter had just spoken against going into executive session and further deferring the proposal to remove Wayne LaPierre as the CEO/VP to the board of directors after NRAAM concluded. I could not believe this. We had all just listened to Oliver North’s resignation read by VP Childress and yet these issues where quick to be discounted as nothing more than fluff or Bloomberg trying to destroy the NRA. Our Past Presidents who spoke at the members meeting only seemed to care about what they had done years ago and not what they would do to correct these failures now.
I spoke. I mentioned the ERPO that had been ratified in Colorado and asked why the NRA did not assist. I mentioned these concerns being so dear to me that I did not want to leave Indianapolis until these issues were addressed. If going into executive session at the members meeting meant accountability for the “crisis” Oliver North spoke of, then by all means, do what it takes! I concluded my arguments by saying that “this may be my first rodeo but it won’t be the last. There must be accountability at the NRA.”
At the Members Meeting I had then answered the question, “what will I do?” I spoke. Unfortunately the problems are still perpetual even after two directors spoke out shortly after the Members Meeting. So, what will I do now? I will work to see that the NRA is accountable to its members for the dues and money we have entrusted to them to fight for our Second Amendment rights. The right to keep and bear arms isn’t exclusive to a group, club, state or persuasion. It is the people’s right. It is the compass that always points North. It is what our NRA is in danger of losing forever unless we hold leadership accountable. I want our Nation Rifle Association to be strong, effective, relevant and accountable. That is my goal and that is why I am a part of Save the Second.