As the new NRA-ILA executive director, I am excited about what the future holds for our fight to defend the Second Amendment. By the time you read this column, I will have been the acting executive director since March. But I’m hardly new to the fight, or even to NRA.
I started with ILA in 1993, when I was hired as a state lobbyist for Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and my home state of Georgia. The following year, I was promoted to be the head of the NRA-ILA State & Local Affairs Division.
I held that position for 17 years, and was proud to help lead the charge on many pro-gun initiatives alongside Wayne LaPierre, Marion Hammer and others.
The mid-’90s saw the beginning of the tremendous advancement in right-to-carry laws at the state level, starting with either converting may-issue permit states into shall-issue permit states, or sometimes having to implement a shall-issue system where virtually no law-abiding civilians could lawfully carry a firearm for personal protection.
I am proud to have been there when Alaska, Arizona and Wyoming—with the help of your NRA—joined Vermont as states that do not require a permit. Since then, 22 more states have joined in not requiring a permit to carry a firearm, bringing the total to 26—and we will keep fighting for more.
NRA is gearing up for next year’s election when control of Congress and the White House will be up for grabs.
As director of ILA State & Local, I also helped lead the aggressive push to promote the recognition and reciprocity laws that ensure those with valid carry permits will have their own state’s permit honored in as many other states as possible. After all, as the saying goes, your right to self-defense should not end at any state line.
We also helped pass: preemption laws to ensure local anti-gun officials could not enact their own gun-control laws or ordinances that went beyond what the state allowed; laws that protect established ranges from being arbitrarily shut down; laws that prohibit local or state officials from restricting our right to arms during a declared state of emergency; laws that protect law-abiding citizens who use firearms in lawful acts of self-defense from politically motivated prosecutions by anti-gun DAs; and laws that remove restrictions on where one may lawfully carry a firearm.
I also am proud to have helped start the movement to amend state constitutions to protect our right to hunt and fish.
In 2011, after having served for longer than any previous director of State & Local, Wayne asked me to become the Director of Political Affairs for the Office of Advancement. I, of course, accepted the offer and spent the last 12 years working directly with Wayne to promote NRA’s message in the political arena and among proud and patriotic donors of the Second Amendment.
So, when the opportunity arose to return to ILA as executive director, I jumped at the chance. It is indeed an honor of a lifetime to take on this new role.
With last year’s ruling in NYSRPA v. Bruen—coupled with the previous landmark rulings in District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. City of Chicago—I believe we are poised to see many more great victories ahead for the Second Amendment. And while some of those victories are likely to also be through the courts, the three rulings I mentioned have also laid the groundwork for legislative victories, which I will be promoting at every level of government; whether federal, state, or local.
Legislators and policymakers will be constantly reminded by our staff, not to mention NRA members like yourself, that the Second Amendment clearly protects an individual right, and any legislation, ordinance, administrative rule or policy must reflect that.
But even with judicial rulings at the highest level on our side, we must not forget who currently occupies the White House, or the fact that Congress is so closely divided, with anti-gun extremists at the helm in the U.S. Senate. So, rest assured, our team at the NRA is gearing up for next year’s election cycle when control of Congress and the White House will be up for grabs.
Our job will be to make sure that NRA is prepared to succeed in helping to elect a president who supports the Second Amendment, wresting control of the U.S. Senate, adding to the pro-gun majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, and still making sure we succeed with elections at the state and local level.
It’s hard work, but I know that we are all up to the task, and I hope you will join us. This is, as it has always been, a team effort, and if we work together, there is nothing that can prevent us from securing our right to keep and bear arms for many generations to come.