NRA Reform Was the Winner in Dallas, Will It Translate to a Win for Members, Gun Owners?

by Vern Evans

After years of turmoil and the resignation of longtime Executive Vice President Wayne LaPIerre, the NRA appears to be charting a new course after electing reform candidates to three of its top four leadership positions. During a board meeting on Monday, Doug Hamlin, who previously ran NRA publications, was elected Executive Vice President and CEO, succeeding LaPierre, who resigned amid corruption allegations.

Hamlin’s victory over Ronnie Barrett in a 35-to-31 vote signifies a shift towards greater transparency and improved financial stewardship.

“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.”

Hamlin’s election was part of a broader sweep by reform candidates, with Bill Bachenberg and Mark Vaughn winning the first and second vice president positions, respectively. Their success comes as the NRA faces legal scrutiny for failing to safeguard its charitable assets, leading to millions being diverted for personal expenses by LaPierre and others.

The new leadership aims to provide more transparency and accountability.

“I think that we’re going to be more transparent, just like we were in this board meeting today,” Hamlin 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.”

In a win running counter to reform movement within the organization, former U.S. Congressman Bob Barr was elected NRA President, defeating longtime LaPierre critic Owen ‘Buz’ Mills in a close 37-to-30 vote. Barr, the only candidate endorsed by the board’s nominating committee, pledged to bolster NRA membership and advocate for Second Amendment rights.

“I have been a fighter my whole life and I commit to boldly fight for our Second Amendment rights on behalf of the millions of NRA members,” Barr stated.

The elections followed the NRA’s 153rd Annual Meetings and Exhibits in Dallas, where more than 72,000 members gathered this past weekend. President Donald J. Trump delivered the keynote address at the NRA Leadership Forum, receiving the NRA Political Victory Fund’s endorsement for his re-election bid.

Reform advocates view the leadership changes as an opportunity to steer the NRA away from scandal and toward a renewed focus on its core mission. Jeff Knox, a newly elected board member and longtime critic of LaPierre, expressed optimism.

“I think that Mr. Barr will do well as the president,” Knox said. “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.”

Hamlin reassured members that the NRA’s commitment to Second Amendment advocacy remains unwavering.

“The NRA is going to continue to stand for the very best in Second Amendment advocacy,” he affirmed with The Reload, highlighting the organization’s success in achieving constitutional carry in 29 states, a success that in reality, has to be shared with other 2A organizations that have stepped in to fill the void left by an NRA weakened by the scandals and court battles of the past several years. But make no mistake, NRA is still at the center of the fight and the ones anti-gunners religiously invoke when their efforts are stymied in Congress. A stronger, refreshed organization will only serve to strengthen 2A rights in this country.  With the November elections approaching, Hamlin emphasized the NRA’s role in mobilizing voters.

The recent changes in leadership and operational strategy are aimed at rebuilding the NRA’s credibility and effectiveness.

“We’re coming off of a great annual meeting, and we’re delighted with our member turnout here,” Hamlin told The Reload, citing the event’s strong attendance as a positive sign for the future.

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