The NRA seal at the 2022 Great American Outdoor Show
The NRA seal at the 2022 Great American Outdoor Show / Stephen Gutowski

Reformers Prevail at NRA Meeting, Elect New Leadership

Dallas, Texas — The National Rifle Association has decided on a new direction.

On Monday, the NRA board voted to install reform candidates across three of its top four leadership positions. That includes the Chief Executive Officer and Executive Vice President position filled by Wayne LaPierre until his resignation during the group’s corruption trial. Doug Hamlin, who ran the NRA’s publications and ran on a reform platform, defeated Ronnie Barrett in a 35-to-31 vote.

“We want to welcome all of our members to the new NRA,” Hamlin told The Reload. “We want to welcome those that we’ve lost in the past five years to come back to us. And we want them to bring friends and family with them.”

Reform candidates also won the first and second vice president positions, with Bill Bachenberg defeating Blaine Wade and Mark Vaughn defeating Tom King. That gives the reformers a significant say over the NRA’s day-to-day and strategic decisions moving forward. It comes shortly after a jury found the organization failed to safeguard its charitable assets as LaPierre and others diverted millions of NRA dollars toward their personal expenses.

The fresh blood combined with a change in operations and legal tactics, which the reformers can enact now that they control two of the three positions on the committee overseeing legal strategy, could bolster their odds of avoiding a court-appointed monitor.

Hamlin said the new NRA leadership will focus on providing more transparency to members, citing the open nature of the leadership elections as an example, and tightening up the group’s financial operations.

“I think that we’re going to be more transparent, just like we were in this board meeting today,” he said. “And we’re going to be good stewards of their money. And we’re going to be responsible managers and regain their trust over time.”

Former congressman Bob Barr was the only candidate for a top leadership position put up by the board’s nominating committee, a group made up primarily of longtime LaPierre allies, who won a contested race. He defeated longtime LaPierre critic Owen ‘Buz” Mills by a vote of 37 to 30 to take over as NRA President.

Still, the reformers were happy with the outcome of the elections. Jeff Knox, who had advocated for LaPierre’s removal for years and won his first term on the board this year as part of a slate of reform candidates, said the outcome was a bit of a mixed bag. But he said it offers an opportunity for the NRA to right the ship after years of scandal, declining membership, and increasing legal costs.

“I think that Mr. Barr will do well as the president,” Knox told The Reload. “I think we’ve got two very good vice presidents and a very good executive vice president. And they’re all ready to work to move forward and bring the association back where it needs to be by bringing back transparency , effectiveness,and customer service.”

Hamlin emphasized that the change in leadership and push for internal reform did not mean the NRA’s core mission would change.

“The NRA is going to continue to stand for the very best in Second Amendment advocacy,” Hamlin said. “We have a tremendous track record of success, with 29 constitutional carry states. And, with November rapidly approaching, we’re going to sharpen our focus to help turn the vote out.”

The group’s annual meeting, which took place over the weekend, saw 72,500 people turn out over four days. Hamlin cited those numbers as momentum the NRA could build on.

“We’re coming off of a great annual meeting, and we’re delighted with our member turnout here,” he said. “We’re trying to capitalize on the momentum from the show.”

UPDATE 5-20-2024 8:50 PM EASTERN: This story has been updated with additional details about the leadership election and comments from Jeff Knox.

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Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019

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