NRA Elections: More Important Than Ever to Research and Vote

www.ammoland.com/2017/11/nra-elections-important-ever-research-vote/

Going to lend transparency to the NRA election process beginning with a look back at the leadership legacy of my seat.

NRA Elections: More Important than Ever to Research and Vote

This is a personal opinion and is not position or policy of the National Rifle Association of America (NRA).

NRA Board of Directors 2017 Ballot : NOTE On your Ballot names may be randomized in a different order.
NRA Board of Directors 2017 Ballot : NOTE On your Ballot names may be randomized in a different order.

U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)- With the announcement of NRA’s 36 candidates for the 2018 Board of Directors election, we’ll look back at a small piece of 2017’s election and NRA leadership legacy. Why present this unique situation? I am the only non-nominated member of the NRA Board of Directors, and we know the legacy of my specific seat.

Known as a legislative force since the 70’s, the NRA for 140+ years is the gold-standard in so much more – firearms training, competitions, safety, certification, collecting, shooting, hunting, and conservation, and more. This article adds transparency to the NRA election process, and tells of how I dropped into the middle of NRA leadership legacy.

Each year, NRA elects 25 board members for three-year terms. In exceptional years, there are additional seats to fill if a position opens by resignation or death. NRA Life members and current members for five or more consecutive years receive their ballot in their Official NRA periodical (first-class letter for Hawaii only). With the published figure of 5.2 NRA million members, there are almost 2.2 million who receive ballots. Few other major organizations allow “you” to have a say. Disappointingly, and consistently, only about 7% of NRA ballots are returned (135,000 for 6.2% in 2017).

An additional Board member, #76, is elected for a one-year term by membership attending the NRAAM. There’s a reason for this basic background, keep reading.

Unlike a legislative race in your hometown or state where candidates know their district boundaries and registered voters, NRA does not tell who or where the NRA voters are. NRA Board candidates run a national election to find two million NRA voters mixed in with 320 million Americans. Without celebrity name recognition, it is a shotgun approach (no pun intended) to find an eligible voter, earn their vote, and convince them to vote. This is important to understand the unlikely odds of the below scenario.

Each Board member has strengths and weaknesses, areas of expertise, particular preferences and dislikes. Celebrities with name recognition typically don’t have to campaign. For grassroots folks who do the nug work on committees, the NRA election is relatively daunting.

The NRA Nominating Committee receives recommendations and presents a ‘slate’ of NRA-approved nominees. Usually, all incumbents plus a few others with solid resumes and Board member support. Having been involved with Board activities and serving on NRA committees, I was fortunate to receive a nomination in 2016. Still, I lost, mostly. NRA maintains the election order of votes received to fill vacancies between elections. I lost “mostly” by finishing #28 of 37. My “loss” got interesting when previous incumbents #26 and 27 moved back on the Board. I became “one off” in the fall of 2016. One Off is the guy, or gal, to next move up.

In January 2017, Mr. Roy Innis died. Mr. Innis was an icon in the civil rights movement. Since 1968, he was the Chairman of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) which included his fight for gun rights, especially minority rights of self-defense. Roy was a 25-year member of the NRA Board of Directors. I met Roy in passing years ago, and the past two years served on his NRA Urban Affairs Committee. Roy’s son Niger and I are close friends from years in the conservative movement and we work together on the renamed NRA Outreach committee.

Roy Innis
Roy Innis

Interestingly, NRA always has 76 board members. Within hours of Roy’s death, I had been contacted, provided and filed the proper paperwork, and scheduled for swearing in. I had Roy Innis’ Board seat, no one fills his shoes, from January to April.

I was not nominated by the NRA Nominating Committee for 2017. When Committee results were announced, long-time NRA Board member Col. Ollie North “suggested” I seek ballot access by petition. Having only one, versus six, months to collect signatures, we succeeded because many of you signed and collected signatures. Now an outsider, our team worked hard to make the case for Board membership. A grassroots campaign, your votes secured a seat. Thank you. That isn’t the end of the story.

In 2017, there were 27 spots open. 25 as is the norm, a two-year position due to a death, and a one-year due to resignation. The top vote-getters, with name recognition, receive about 80-100,000 votes. As the numbers decrease, there were six or seven candidates separated by scant hundreds of votes clustered around 69,000 now competing for three seats. This time, you propelled us to win #26, the two-year vacancy. Disappointed to not win a three-year term, it is a privilege to win any seat, to serve, and to contribute.

This seat carries another leadership legacy. Wisconsin’s Francis E “Buster” Bachhuber, Jr. was a lawyer with Infantry service in Korea. Buster was a renaissance guy. Had a law firm, and reloaded his hunting ammo. Was an Instrument-rated commercial pilot, and comfortable in the NRA-ILA trenches. He was a Director for 13 years. For the last three years, we’d speak during meetings as he shared his lessons learned. Buster died while serving. #26, the two-year seat.

What are the odds out of 320 million in America, 5.2 million NRA members, 2.2 million voters, 135,000 votes cast, that for a second time I would know the legacy of my seat? Would I prefer to be one of the 25? Of course. As long as that isn’t the case, it is satisfying to know the legacy of today’s seat.

Many great patriots serve to make the National Rifle Association the most powerful Second Amendment advocate, firearms training and safety organization, and leader in conservation. In this case, we carry the leadership legacy of two who served selflessly with distinction. With legislative gun rights issues and the growing popularity of shooting activities, it is more important than ever to shape our Board with active leadership for the coming decade.

Research the candidates, and cast your vote.

About Willes K. Lee

Willes LeeLieutenant Colonel Willes K. Lee USA (Ret) is a member of the NRA Board of Directors from Hawaii and Virginia. He is a Benefactor Life member, serving on five NRA committees. Lee is a West Point graduate, U.S Army combat veteran, who served 26 years as a Defender of Freedom. Willes is the President of the National Federation of Republican Assemblies, a co-Chairman of the Trump-Pence Second Amendment Coalition, a member of the Council for National Policy, and on the board of the American Conservative Union Foundation, hosts of CPAC. He is a former GOP State Chairman and RNC member. Follow Lee www.WillesLee.com, Twitter and Instagram @WillesLee, and www.Facebook.com/WillesLeeNRA.

#myflag

Weekly, or when I can, I do a #myflag post. These are examples of photos I’ve posted (or am going to post). Just a reminder #DefenderofFreedom #patriot.

Dick Morris for lunch.
Most photographed display of any in the three NRA museums

Always Running

Hard to get back to get thoughts on paper when so much happens each week. After NYC, Las Vegas, Texas, California  … hurricanes, travel, meetings …. When I need the endorphins,  I kick up my running. So far, more like a slow jog, but been here before so I know where to go.  Each time I get out of shape, I swear I’ll never do it again because it is so much work to get back in shape. My excuse this go-around is work on my knee, but really I am just lazy and soft. Grew up running track and field. Fifth grade teacher got me interested, and that’s the first time I experienced “rig”, what we call the rigamortis of major lactic acid buildup, and my first race win.  Still enjoy the feeling of the race, the competition – lining up, mano-a-mano (and, women), first to finish wins, everyone else loses. Towards the end of my Army career, began training and competing in 5k and 10k races, still keeping a hand (or foot) on the track in the 800m and 400m. At the Pentagon, ran with the Potomac Valley track Club, in Hawaii trained and ran with the Hawaii Master’s Track Club. Got tired of getting beaten by folks who shouldn’t be beating me, I changed my lifestyle for a couple year, and added serious training. Once you experience the “high” of shorter distance races, you begin considering going longer. You may not do so, for many assorted reasons, but all of us consider it. Testing myself as I entered my 40’s, decided to run a marathon. Trained for eight months. Did all my own research, training, trial & error, but it wasn’t as if I hadn’t been running all my life. Did well in the Honolulu Marathon but cramped at 24 miles going back over Diamond Head. Pretty much limped to the finish. Think I ran a 3:45. Spent the rest of the day in the fetal position in pain.  Knew I could do it better, so I began training for the next year.  1o months, seven prep races of 10k’s, a couple half marathons, a couple 20k races, two 5k for speed work.  Training is important but races get you ready for a race – the jostling, the crowds, the adrenaline, the pre- and post-race timing.  Best workouts: 16 x 6-min miles on the track at Punahou HS in Honolulu, 4 min interval between miles seemed long at first, by the end of the workout time flew by right up to the next 6 min mile. Another was a Virginia 20-miler morning run on the W&OD bike trail from Arlington to Vienna and back, then off to work that day.  Race date dictates your preparation: when to work at which distance or speed, where to run (I run the entire marathon course in pieces to know the route and surface and chokepoints and such). Typically, I’ll drop body weight (slowly, to maintain strength) more for a marathon where you don’t want to lug around fat-weight than when we run on the track where you need a little bulk for the close-quarters and jostling.  Each race is different: start time and weather dictates last meal, what to eat, hydration, when to arrive, when to line up.  Nailed it. Ran the Marine Corps Marathon in 3:12 (which was actually like a 3:12:50).  Beautiful day – had been training in Hawaii 80 degree temps so the race start at 58 degrees in less humidity was perfect. Tied up going over the 14th Street bridge. Finished strong, then went to a family party, no pain because I was prepared and training properly. A month later for fun cruised the Honolulu Marathon again, this time in 3:30. The challenge of racing a marathon isn’t in the race. It is in the year or more of training, preparation, proper diet, sleep, cross training, cold- and hot-weather runs, bad weather, family events, travel, work.  Racing a marathon is actually anti-climatic. I knew my body so well by race day, that each time (except that first time) I predicted within 90 seconds my finish time.  Met my running goals, so I slacked. My body was tuned enough that I ran two more marathons after with little to no training, both around 3:30 going out and back over Diamond head.  Same time frame, won the Hawaii State masters 800m in a pedestrian 2:18. Never been about running for me.  Now, it is about having somewhat relatively clear lungs, maintaining my weight. Always been about the competition- against others and myself.

Racing on the track is a completely different animal.

Last year, got my left knee scoped. That’s my excuse for not running for a year. Just getting back, putzing through slow 2-3-4 mile runs, hardly a jog and what I would not consider a run for my run log just three years ago. .But, it feels good to be out again. I don’t think I’ll compete again. The pain, work, commitment is more than I have time or desire to endure. I am glad I competed. Normal people, mortals, cannot understand the need to line up, put yourself out there, go down on record – you win or you lose. Winning is best, but either is better than never trying.

Deciding to get back in as winter comes to the east coast isn’t particularly good timing.   It’s been cold, windy, rainy … “No need to give me excuses, I have thousands of my own.” Just do it.  One thing you get in distance that you don’t on the track: yesterday, I stopped at a small bridge over a creek while a deer (sort of oddly shaped three-point) crossed not six feet from me. In the city/suburbs, they are, obviously, pretty unafraid.  

Fav gun show, friends

Being on the NRA Board isn’t about me, it is about all the great people in our #2A community. Such a fun day for me. Hadn’t been to one of Annette’s shows in a bit. Good to see friends, meet more vendors, talk to people/customers.  Showmasters Gun Shows Chantilly VA,  #TheNationsGunShow. Vendors say sales are so-so, but in the meantime saw lot of firearms going out the door. Hung out at the Arsenal Attorney’s table with Jack Conroy, which adjoins the VCDL table with their great volunteers. Shopping for an AR, but didn’t find what I “need”. While I was there, I also did two hours of Saturday Symposium Contending 4 Truth Radio w #2A protectors Gary Edwin Rumer Dan Wilson. Sort of different and interesting orchestrating the radio while at the show, trying to find folks I wanted to have a shout out. Got Arsenal AttorneysNRA Museums, & showmaster’s boss Annette Elliott on radio for their plug. Worked so well, may try that again, thankfully Gary and Dan were fine with me putting others on… and it isn’t as if I picked out lightweights or folks we didn’t want to hear about and from. Hung out w Maryland BFF Kat O’Connor w TomKat Ammunition/TK DefenseVCDL Page – Virginia Citizens Defense League, Inc. crew, Republican Party of Virginia team was light following the election, & BFF patriots Flags of Valor. On the other hand, as Kat noted, being a Board member in public also opens us up to a lot of complaints and criticism, and some compliments for what NRA does. I want to hear it all, and have always prefer that people don’t try to blow smoke up my ass. Open Sunday for Christmas gifts! Last stop of day was a block away to see experts at F3 Tactical, Inc. to stock my go bag & range bag. Fun to visit and more folks dropped by after their time at the gunshow.  #2A #NRA #NRABoard #M2AGA#keepshooting #guns #firearms #nocompromise #guncolllecting#gunowners Willes Lee NRA Board of Directors @WillesLee www.WillesLee.com

Nation’s Gun Show, Chantilly VA
BFF Kat O’Connor slid out to the left of the photo. Fun firearms, great subsonic ammo.
VCDL crew – Virginia Citizen’s Defense League
Gotta stop at F3 Tacitical

 

Shooting Committees, the way forward

Spent last weekend, with the NRA – National Rifle Association of America Shooting cmtes at NRA HQ in Fairfax VA.  During meetings of the full Board, I am conflicted out by my cmte meetings. Just a matter of timing (I’m on on five, mostly legislative: NRA Institute for Legislative Action w Legislative Affairs, Grassroots, Federal Affairs, also Outreach, Military & Veterans Committees). NRA President Pete Brownell focus is “To promote and foster the shooting sports…” To listen & learn, I asked to ‘audit’ these committees including Pistol, High Power Rifle, Action Shooting & such. Good to see friends & understand issues/direction for trigger-pulling side. Superb survey info from National Shooting Sports Foundation | NSSF, & competition schedule for 2018 is done. This is an exciting, challenging time for shooting sports and competitions with so many legacy activities & many new and popular ways for folks to enjoy our lifestyle. Budget is tougher this year (always after winning an election, thank you Donald Trump).  Several committees discussed changes to procedures or rules for competitions. While we conduct local, state and national championships contests, we want more people to enjoy firearms. We’re meeting on weekends such as last weekend so you can be out #hunting, shooting, plinking, competing or whatever you want to do. We want to see more people out pulling triggers. We do this meeting stuff so that you don’t have to worry so much about the bureaucratic stuff. I also got a lot of side work completed out of the meeting rooms. Long as I’m in Virginia, stop to NRA Museums with two new displays & NRA Headquarters Range sneaking an hour of pewpew with my carry guns. Long travel, long weekend of meetings, very well worth it. See more at  Twitter and Instagram @WillesLee and Facebook Willes Lee NRA Board of Directors.  Got home in time to carve a pumpkin.

Carved it, then stuck a fork it it.

Sneaked in some range time when a meeting ended early.
Always check the museum for new displays.
Top Shot season 4 winner Chris Cheng is on shooting committees and Outreach.

Looks Like Outreach: HRA with BSA Event with Union Leaders

this post begins w this entry at Facebook.com/WillesLeeNRA “BSA & #NRA have a long history, as do state affiliates & state BSA organizations. Hawaii Rifle Association president Harvey Gerwig invited me to view an event on the Oahu North Shore. FB Live video is at Willes Lee NRA Board of Directors. It is a Boy Scouts of America development (read $$) activity w community leaders competing for bragging rights & prizes in 10 interesting events. All fun, but got competitive. The leaders, donors, are almost all from union organizations in Hawaii. Unions are the strength behind the heavily liberal agenda in this blue state. In general, that flows into some strong anti gun sentiment. (Keyword, one of the NRA committee on which I sit is Outreach, so this seemed appropriate). This is where this post get interesting – sorry to ask you to do this, if you want more, check the blog at www.WillesLee.com. It is too much to cover here. Short story – some diverse folks in a community come together to allow less-privileged children to participate in BSA thru the Scoutreach Program. Stations include Rifle, Air, Shotgun, black powder (substituted w .22) rifle, Pistol, also archery, slingshot, knife throw, tomahawk throw, spear throw, & ninja throwing stars!! This post focuses on the HRA piece. #HRA #NRA #NRABoard #MAGA #outreach #keepshooting #pewpew #guns #commonsense Willes Lee NRA Board of Directors @WillesLee www.WillesLee.com” 

This is the 12th year for this event. The Scoutreach program funds membership, uniforms and more for children who can’t afford it. I appreciate the aspect of more children participating in scouting, more liking that it kept some from perhaps participating where they can get into trouble. Participants in this event are mostly construction union-leader guys & gals so they aren’t shrinking violets, afraid to chuck a spear or blast away with a shotgun.  Intended strictly to support the BSA effort for Scoutreach, it certainly serves as many purposes for HRA and 2A. Over a good cause, gun and non gun folks get to play together. The funds support BSA, i.e. another generation, which get much of it’s firearms training and safety training from HRA members who are mostly NRA instructors and safety officers.  Especially in such an antigun blue state this, this collaboration with liberal (not necessarily antigun, but certainly liberal-minded) leaders and the tie to firearms awareness for the next generation is great outreach.

About 40 volunteers, 20 HRA and 20 BSA organize, set up  and run the event over three days.

Side notes. Outreach-style. The new young-lady BSA development director had never shot, and openly admitted being afraid of the prospect. i.e. not just afraid to shoot, but afraid to think about shooting. After watching many others take a shot (no pun), HRA instructors (all NRA certified) had her headed to the air rifle, then .22.

Less than usual events. Sucked at knife throwing.  Stuck three of ten attempts.  This was fun enough and challenging that I’ll set up something in my backyard – where unlike some of you, I cannot use firearms. Spear throwing was harder than it looks. I would have been a terrible Spartan. One of five. Harvey Gerwig replaced the cheap, breakable wooden shafts with metal poles. Yeah, they were heavy, but still. I do a little work at home with a slingshot so that isn’t unfamiliar. Didn’t try the ninja stars. With the real ones, think I’m afraid of sticking myself.

On the North Shore, the shore is right THERE. Summer is flat & smooth, winter comes & the waves get to 30+ feet.
Easy venue for beginners over a beautiful gorge w the Pacific Ocean as a backdrop.
Knife throwing crew. This was enuf fun, may get a set for my backyard.
Spear throwing. Uh, ok, harder than it looks in the movies.
All volunteers from HRA come up Friday for set up, and leave Sunday after teardown.
BSA food and volunteers. Wow, for a simple lunch, all cooked on the spot, nice.
Harvey Gerwig, longtime HRA President.
Couple months ago I posted a photo from the distance looking to where I stand now.
Not much, but still some limited fields of pineapples.