The Coastal Post - June, 1996

Women Of The NRA

The influence of women in the National Rifle Association continues to grow as more and more women join the organization. Two of the three NRA names best known to the media are those of women—NRA President Marion Hammer and NRA chief lobbyist, Executive Director Tanay Metaksa of the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA).

Marion Hammer became president upon the untimely death of NRA President Tom Washington, the first woman to hold that office in NRA's 125-year history. By her unanimous election at the recent annual meeting in Dallas, she is today the first elected woman president of NRA.

Women play significant roles on the NRA headquarter's staff. Four of ILA's eight divisions are headed by women: Crime Strike Director Liz Swasey; Conservation, Wildlife and Natural Resources Director Susan Lamson; Grassroots Director Cathy Grant; and Fiscal Officer Mary Rose Jennison.

Other outstanding women who help keep NRA running smoothly include NRA Assistant Secretary Jackie Mongold, Women's Issues and Personal Safety Director Easter Thompson, Financial Services Director Mary Beth Cunigan, and Mary Corrigan, Senior Advisor to the NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre.

Women on the board

The first woman ever to be a member of the NRA board of directors is Alice Bull, appointed to the board in 1948, half a century ago. A great lady, she has won many state, regional and national shooting titles, including four-time holder of the National Women's High Power Rifle Championship, and winner of the coveted Department of Defense Distinguished Rifleman's Badge. At this year's national convention she received NRA's Sybil Luddigton Women's Freedom Award for her lifetime achievements on behalf of shooting sports and the right to arms.

In recent years the NRA board has gained increasing numbers of women members, from six in 1990 to 11 at present. In 1995's board election, five of the top seven vote-getters were women (three of them named Sue!), and that year there were nine women board members (11.8% of the board). In the 1996 election, four of the top seven vote-getters were women. Today's 11 women members comprise 14.5% of the 76-member NRA board.

How many NRA members are women is uncertain because NRA has never asked applicants to indicate gender. Many use only initials. Others may have gender-neutral first names. (Women members with other than clearly feminine names could help resolve this by dropping a note to report their gender to the NRA Membership Division, 11250 Waples Mill Road, Fairfax, VA 22030.)

What is known is that new women members represent the fastest growing segment of NRA, just as women also represent the fastest growing segment of gun buyers—facts that must be their worst nightmare for gun-hating zealots Sarah Brady, Josh Sugarman, and Rep. Charles Schumer.

NRA also boasts a growing group of some 2,000 women certified firearms instructors. Women new to shooting generally prefer women instructors. Another growing special category of women instructors is those providing "Refuse To Be a Victim" courses specifically for women.

All members should be proud of the growing roster of females in NRA leadership positions. Without exception, they are a great team of highly competent individuals, doing a superior job, members of our NRA family, thoroughly dedicated to safety, responsibility and freedom, and to preserving and restoring our ancient, primordial right to arms, a right that long predates all existing governments and constitutions.

FIELDING GREAVES

San Rafael

Prison And Guns

Those who decry spending money on prison construction should know that it is succeeding in reducing violent crime. From 1980 to 1992, in the 10 states where incarceration rates climbed the most, violent crime declined by 8 percent, while the 10 states with the lowest increases in incarceration, violent crime skyrocketed 51 percent.

The reason for the disparity if clear. Offenders kept behind bars cannot prey on society. But those given early release, parole or probation, in those states with such misguided catch-and-release social experiments, are free again to ply their vicious trade—their jobs made even safer by absurd gun laws that disarm their victims.

A Rand Corp. study found that in the 12 months following release from prison, the average felon commits at least 187 new crimes, costing society an average of $2,300 each for a year's total cost of $430,000—17 times the $25,000 it costs to keep him in prison one year.

Everyday across America prisoners released early on parole or probation murder 14 people, rape 48 women, and rob 578 citizens. A recent study indicates that in 1989 alone, the nationwide increase in incarceration rates prevents some 66,000 rapes, 323,000 robberies, 80,000 assaults, and 3.3 million burglaries.

Potential victims should be happy to know that NRA's work last year resulted in helping restore right-to-carry (RTC) laws in 10 states. Three more have already enacted RTC laws this year (Kentucky, West Virginia and Louisiana), with three more pending.

When will gun-hating zealots understand that gun laws don't curb crime, but incarceration does?

FIELDING GREAVES

San Rafael