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January 23, 2017

Is the NRA a Good Ol’ Boys Club?

by Anne Paddock

The NRA (National Rifle Association of America) calls itself “America’s longest-standing civil rights organization.” By most definitions, civil rights refer to a “class of rights to protect individuals’ freedom from infringement by governments, social organizations, and private individuals. They ensure one’s ability to participate in the civil and political life of the society and state without discrimination or repression.”* So, it only seems natural to look at the people – the officers, directors, and key employees – and the composition of the management of “America’s longest-standing civil rights organization” to see if this organization sets the standards for upholding civil rights in America.

The NRA is a non-profit 501 (c)(4) public charity that has 76 elected directors, of which 71 (93%) are white and 65 (86%) are male – based on the most recent information available in 2015. The IRS Form 990 (2014) indicates the organization has 839 employees, 93 of whom received more than $100,000 in compensation. The ten highest paid employees are white males who were given a total of $6 million, of which $5.5 million in compensation was from the NRA and the remainder from related organizations:

  • $985,885:  Wayne LaPierre, CEO and Executive VP
  • $891,002:  Chris W Cox, Executive Director, ILA (Institute for Legislative Action)
  • $611,919:   Robert K Weaver, Executive Director, General Ops
  • $605,753:  Wilson H Phillips, Jr, Treasurer
  • $592,595:  Tyler Schropp, Executive Director, Advancement
  • $587,556:  Michael Marcellin, Managing Director
  • $509,267:  Douglas Hamlin, Executive Director, Publications
  • $476,049:  Edward J Land, Jr, Secretary
  • $437,035:  David Lehman, Deputy Executive Director, ILA
  • $361,981:  James Baker, Director, ILA Federal

There are critics who have alleged the NRA is run by a group of fat, middle-aged white men but that’s not necessarily true. If the board and management mirror the US population, only two out of three are overweight and one out of three are obese. As for age, most executives – men and women – are middle-aged because careers typically follow an upward trajectory that takes time.

So, the question becomes: Does the board and management of the NRA reflect the characteristics of the US population or the membership rolls of the organization?  No, on both accounts. The US Census estimates the US white population to be 77% and the male population to be 49% If the board mirrored these characteristics, then there would be 59 whites and 17 non-whites of which 37 would be men and 39 would be women.

According to Don McDougall, an NRA instructor and member of the Los Padres “Friends of the NRA” committee (See “The Demographics of the NRA“), the NRA membership (5 million) is 40% women and 40% minorities. Applying these characteristics, the board would be made up of 46 whites and 30 non-whites of which 46 would be men and 30 would be women. So, the Board and the management of the NRA is neither representative of the population nor of the membership.

The NRA claims to represent “a diverse contrast of age, sex, race and religion” and they very well may but the NRA board and management don’t reflect a diverse group mirroring the population or even their membership roles. So, I ask: does the NRA look like a good ol’ boys club?

Click here to review the IRS Form 990 (2014)


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