American Rifleman - August 2021 - 14

president's column
Looking Back At 150 Years
Of NRA Presidents
anniversary has given
T
By Carolyn D. Meadows
President
he NRA's 150th
us good reason to gaze back on our
association's history. As I look back
at the presidents of this great civil-rights
organization, I am filled with pride to be
counted among their number. The men and
women who have preceded me in the post
are truly inspiring.
The first NRA president, Ambrose
Everett Burnside, served as a Union general,
a railroad executive and governor of Rhode
Island, and would later serve as a U.S.
senator. Amusingly, besides his military
history and civil service, he was known for
his unique facial hair, which sparked the
term " sideburns. "
From General Burnside to today, our
NRA OFFICERS
Carolyn D. Meadows
President
Charles L. Cotton
First Vice President
Willes K. Lee
Second Vice President
Wayne LaPierre
Executive Vice President
John Frazer
Secretary
Sonya Rowling
Treasurer and
Chief Financial Officer
Jason Ouimet
Executive Director,
NRA-ILA
Joseph P. DeBergalis, Jr.
Executive Director,
General Operations
NRA has been led by presidents with
diverse backgrounds. Journalists, judges,
military leaders, competitive shooters,
politicians (including a U.S. president),
law-enforcement officers, activists,
business executives and lawyers, all as
you might expect. But our ranks have also
included humanitarians, artists, actors,
dentists-even a botanist! This wide
variety of occupations perfectly illustrates
that the Second Amendment is really for
everyone-no matter your background,
sex, religion or otherwise.
While all of my predecessors are
worthy of having their stories told, this
column space constrains me from doing
just that. However, I would like to take this
opportunity to touch on a few who really
stand out in modern NRA history.
Joe Foss, a World War II ace fighter pilot
and Medal of Honor recipient, served as
the NRA's president from 1988-1990. Foss
overcame difficult family circumstances,
including the unexpected death of his father
and subsequent economic hardships, to
educate himself and earn his wings. The
Marine Corps initially considered him too
old to be a fighter pilot, but he never gave
up the quest. The too-old label was proved
very wrong indeed once this patriot took
to the skies, as his unit was credited with
shooting down at least 72 enemy aircraft,
26 of which were taken out by Foss himself.
After many years of using his aerial prowess
in service of his country, Foss retired as
a brigadier general, entered the political
arena and was elected the 20th
governor of
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14
South Dakota.
I would be remiss if I didn't give a " tip of
the hat " to the trailblazer I am fortunate to
call a friend, and NRA members are lucky to
August 2021
have in their corner-Marion Hammer, the
first female president of the NRA. During
her tenure in the mid-90s, Hammer was
instrumental in the creation of the Eddie Eagle
GunSafe Program and helped spearhead
right-to-carry legislation, range-protection
legislation, state firearms preemption and
other landmark laws all around the country
that protect our freedoms.
WE CAN LOOK TO OUR
PAST FOR INSPIRATION AND
TO THE FUTURE FOR HOPE.
Hammer was followed by Moses himself-
that is, Charlton Heston. A skilled orator
and talented actor, Heston used his gift
of communication to thwart Al Gore from
being commander-in-chief. With George W.
Bush as president, we had a friend in the
White House, which led to the signing of the
Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act
(PLCAA) to protect the firearms industry from
frivolous lawsuits brought by gun-grabbers
intent on destroying law-abiding companies
engaged in legal trade. The importance and
power of the PLCAA cannot be overstated-
which is why it's President Biden's fondest
wish to have it repealed. Biden, of course, has
the backing of the continually rabidly antigun
press, who still use the " manufactured
statistics and fabricated technical support
from anti-gun organizations that wouldn't
know a semi-auto from a sharp stick, " as Mr.
Heston outright confronted them with at the
National Press Club back in 1997. I guess
some things just never change.
My own tenure as the 67th
NRA president
has been marked by COVID-19 and the
unrelenting attacks from weaponized
government and those who aim to render
us defenseless. But as we come out of
this historic time, we can look to our past
for inspiration and to the future for hope.
Tomorrow's Second Amendment leaders are
already in the trenches, perhaps engaged
in all kinds of occupations, but never
forgetting the importance of their Second
Amendment rights and the importance of
the NRA in fighting for those freedoms.
What leaders will we have going forward,
ready to continue the fight, following in the
footsteps of the great NRA presidents of
the last 150 years? I don't know, but I can't
wait to see their successes!
AmericAn riflemAn
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American Rifleman - August 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Rifleman - August 2021

Contents
American Rifleman - August 2021 - Cover1
American Rifleman - August 2021 - Cover2
American Rifleman - August 2021 - 1
American Rifleman - August 2021 - Contents
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