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President's Column | NRA Will Focus On Outreach With A Broad Spectrum Of Programs

President's Column | NRA Will Focus On Outreach With A Broad Spectrum Of Programs

Photo credit: Michael Ives

This feature appears in the July ‘17 issue of NRA America’s 1st Freedom, one of the official journals of the National Rifle Association.  

I am humbled to serve as the president of the National Rifle Association. I look forward to traveling to every corner of the nation to meet with individual members and with leaders in our great community. It is the honor of a lifetime.

My connection with our unique organization literally goes back to the day of my birth when my father, Frank Brownell, gave me a Life membership. My grandfather, Bob Brownell, founded our business 75 years ago, and with my dad’s guidance it grew into what it is today. For me, I have been blessed working in my family business since I was a youngster. I hope my skills as a CEO and my deep affinity with gun owners will translate into great service for NRA members.

Growing up in a business that fills the needs of shooters, hunters, gunsmiths and hobbyists—as well as those serving in the military and law enforcement—I have spent my life dedicated to serving those who live the promise of the Second Amendment. It has given me a unique perspective.

Most Americans are familiar with the NRA as the savviest political force in the nation. But there is the other side of NRA—aspects that even some members and much of our unaffiliated supporting public at large know little about.

The NRA exists to serve the needs of all gun owners, whatever their interests. In that role, we offer more than 100 programs. These run the gamut: safety training; firearms instruction covering a host of disciplines; assisting our military and law enforcement; hunter education and services; historic preservation; women’s programs; range development and safety; programs for youngsters. Those are just the beginning.

With the fullest support of my predecessor, Allan Cors, outreach has grown into a major vision for the NRA.We invented firearm safety training. Our network of certified instructors is unequaled. To the NRA, safety means teaching, coaching, training—all to provide individuals young and old with knowledge that will serve as lifelong lessons in the safe handling and use of firearms. 

In our range programs, we have been instrumental in providing places for Americans to safely shoot, places where they can hone their skills or participate in the satisfaction of competition.

We also provide life-saving instruction for police. 

The NRA is the foremost authority on firearm collecting. Our museums house the finest collections anywhere—beginning with the NRA National Firearms Museum at our headquarters in Fairfax, Va., and including the NRA National Sporting Arms Museum at the Bass Pro Shops in Springfield, Mo., and the Frank Brownell Museum of the Southwest at the NRA Whittington Center in Raton, N.M.

We are dedicated to preserving the artifacts of our unique national firearm history. For scholars and collectors, NRA’s preservation programs are unmatched.

And, of course, there is a whole universe of competitions. In terms of organized shooting, we have been at the forefront since the founding of the association in 1871.

Serving to save the rights that protect the liberties of all Americans, we are indeed the oldest civil rights organization in the country. Among the prouder marks of our history, which began in 1871, is that after the Civil War and during the difficult years that followed, the NRA was perhaps the only organization that was totally colorblind.

And that brings me to what I consider to be one of the most important elements of our future—outreach. It started with the leadership of the late Roy Innis, who was among the greatest civil rights leaders of his era. With the fullest support of my predecessor, Allan Cors, outreach has grown into a major vision for the NRA.

Among our top priorities is an aggressive effort to represent peaceable gun owners from every segment of our society. We will be telling our story. And in doing so, I am certain we will represent a diverse cross section of firearm owners who should be in our family, thus bringing more women and more minorities into to our community of safety, sport and preservation of freedom.

As NRA president, I will be using this space in the weeks and months ahead to discuss programs in detail, in hopes that each member might find something of interest they didn’t know about. I am also hoping that you will find interests that might attract unaffiliated gun owners and friends to consider membership.