What can they do?
We understand about the impact of public perception and the need to show everyone that our second amendment applies every citizen, not just “fat old white guys”. But if all you bring is your race, gender, sexual orientation, or age, that shouldn’t earn you a seat on the Board. What are you able to offer that no one else can? How will that further the aims and goals of our organization? How well-rounded are you? The Board already has more than its share of competitive shooters and celebrities. We need people with legal, grassroots and media savvy. There needs to be balance but we won’t find it unless we vet what people can do.
What have they done and what can members find out about them?
A seat on the NRA Board is not a right of passage or membership to a country club. It is not enough to put it on a resume or mention it at every public appearance. Those who are elected to a seat need to continue to earn it. If they have been a board member, have they continued to be open about what they are doing for the organization?
Accomplishments and continued efforts need to be publicly accessible by every NRA member using the most common of public searches. Even if internal business discussed at Board meetings must sometimes be withheld from the public, attendance of those meetings should be public. Too many Board members fail to perform their duty in attending and are not being held accountable. If they aren’t doing the job for which they are elected, the membership should know this and decide if fresh blood is needed in that seat.
Every Board member should be able to pass this simple litmus test: Launch a web browser, bring up any search engine and type “(person’s name) NRA”. The first few results should paint a picture for you of what they’ve done in the last year, what they are still working on and what their attendance record is regarding Board meetings. Not what committee they’re on, not what sporting groups they belong to, but what they have done. If you can’t learn that much basic information about someone who is in such an important role, perhaps they should not be in that role.
How were they nominated?
There are two ways to be nominated to the NRA Board, getting the approval of the internal nominating committee and getting enough signatures from rank-and-file members on a petition. While those on the Board should be in a position to know best what the organization needs, the potentially scandalous John Brown nomination indicates that this system is broken. Either personal agendas are being followed or there is simply no vetting going on at even the most basic level.
We no longer have any faith in the committee to do the right thing for the organization or its members. 29 candidates have gotten the nod for 2015 via this method. 6 candidates went through the trouble of earning a member-petition nomination, gathering 250 member signatures to get on the ballot. They’re to be commended for taking the harder road but should be scrutinized on how the signatures were gathered. Did they campaign in front of members or simply pass a signup sheet at a massive gun show, hoping that enough people were statistically likely to be voting members of the NRA for their signature to count? as members, we want hard workers on the Board but must be careful to not let in those who just game the system. Frankly, if you want something in the NRA you are not seeing, these people might be the best answer if they have proven themselves openly.
We should also note that some brave and clearly member-oriented nominees who are currently on the board were already nominated by the committee but went to the trouble of also seeking member approval. We very much approve of this approach and respect their decision.
Unless stated by the nominees you will not know who took which path per the NRA rules. Assuming nominated candidates have a public presence – a website, a Facebook page, some form of email contact – ask them. They are not prohibited from answering and should not be ashamed to do so.
This is your organization and you are choosing those who will lead its future direction. Take the time to investigate them and vote only for those who are deserving of it.