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President's Column

By James W. Porter II, President

Outgoing President Reflects On The Past, Looks To The Future

Serving you as president of the National Rifle Association (NRA) for the past two years has been among the most treasured experiences of my life. I have traveled across our United States and have been privileged to meet with NRA members in every corner of the nation. During these two years, through your untiring efforts, we have seen the NRA grow in strength, influence and national respect.

I have the distinct honor of being the first legacy president of the NRA, following my father, Irvine Porter, into the office 53 years after he held the chair. Dad was one of 15 individuals to receive NRA’s highest honor, Honorary Life Member. In 1977, in Cincinnati, when the members of our association re-established the core mission of NRA as safeguarding the Second Amendment above all else, my father chaired that historic assemblage.

Seeing the NRA transformed from his perspective has been a remarkable asset for my two years as president.

When he was elected president in 1959, NRA was very different—existing in a time where gun control meant accuracy and safety. As an NRA kid, I so enjoyed those wonderful summer days spent with my dad at the Camp Perry National Matches. In those days, the meaning of the Second Amendment was not in question; and books about shooting and hunting were on the best-seller lists. President John F. Kennedy was a proud NRA Life member.

In the space of a few years, with the hyper-reaction to three political assassinations—President Kennedy, civil rights leader Martin Luther King and then-U.S. Sen. Robert Kennedy—times changed. I lived that change, and watched my father help bring the NRA into its modern role as the foremost defender of the Second Amendment.

The epiphany for many within the NRA leadership—that we had to move beyond our principle role as a shooting organization—came with the passage of the Gun Control Act of 1968. Absent any grassroots command, or any organized presence in the halls of Congress, national gun-control restrictions became a reality.

I was a 19-year-old student when that happened. My father’s determination that the NRA must change had a profound effect on me. He provided a remarkable connection between generations in shaping the NRA into the most effective grassroots, civil rights organization in the country.

In the mid-1960s, when the newly minted gun banners in the Congress were hatching their sweeping gun-control ideas, a young lawyer from Ohio—a devoted shooter and firearm collector—served as minority counsel to the House Judiciary Committee. Were it not for the tireless work of that young man, the disaster of the ’68 Act would have been far worse.

His name is Allan Cors.

Allan and a few others, working behind the scenes, prevented a far greater disaster from being written into law.

For those of you who don’t know Allan, this is by way of a heartfelt introduction to the man slated to be your new president.

In 1975, Allan, my father and then-Michigan Congressman John Dingell were among those who led the way when the NRA Board of Directors created the NRA Institute for Legislative Action. Allan, at the time, was a prominent corporate lawyer/lobbyist, and knew better than anyone the critical importance of a strong, permanent NRA voice, not only in the nation’s capital, but in the states as well.

Allan started on his lifelong passion with firearms, shooting and hunting when he was 11 years old. As a young Hi-Power shooter he earned the coveted Distinguished Rifleman badge. He served on the National Board for the Promotion of Rifle Practice.

For seven years, Allan has been a director of The NRA Foundation, which is integral to preserving the Second Amendment, and has been involved in efforts to promote every aspect of shooting and gun ownership.

Over the years, Allan created one of the finest military arms collections anywhere, with many of his rarer pieces residing in the National Firearms Museum at NRA Headquarters.

He is also the founder and chairman of the National Museum of Americans in Wartime—dedicated to telling the story of the sacrifice of our men and women in uniform from the 20th century through today, and paying equal tribute to those on the home front.

As I close out these two years as NRA president, I want to thank each of you for doing your part to safeguard our rights and the liberty they secure. I know you will support Allan in the same way you supported me. Every day, every contact I have with NRA members reaffirms my faith that the men, women and youngsters who belong to our wonderful organization are the heart and soul of our country. Our values are the bedrock of the goodness and exceptionalism that has made our nation the freest, most prosperous and most generous in history.