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NEW VPC Study Debunks National Rifle Association Claim To Represent "Family Values"

Extremism, Racism, Legal Woes, and Gun Industry Ties Are Rampant on NRA Board of Directors

Study is Excerpted in NRA Expose Contained in July/August Mother Jones Magazine

A new study released today by the Violence Policy Center (VPC) in conjunction with Mother Jones magazine reveals that contrary to the National Rifle Association's new theme that it represents "family values," the NRA's board of directors is characterized by extremism, racism, sexism, legal woes, and ties to the firearms industry. The study, NRA Family Values, is excerpted in the July/August issue of Mother Jones magazine.

Josh Sugarmann, VPC executive director and one of the authors of the study, states, "On April 19, 1996 the first anniversary of the Oklahoma bombing the NRA opened its annual meeting with President Marion Hammer announcing that the organization is guided by 'family values' that it practices 'every day, not because they're fashionable, but because they're right.' Contrary to Ms. Hammer's rose-tinted view of her organization's leadership, the NRA's board of directors reveals a picture more akin to Norman Bates than Norman Rockwell." NRA board members highlighted in the VPC study include the following:

  • Wayne Stump at one time served on the advisory board of English First, a radical anti-immigration group that has been accused of racism. Stump is also closely associated with Jack McLamb, whose American Citizens and Lawmen Association (ACLA) works to convince law enforcement officers to stop enforcing the law and align themselves with militias against the federal government. McLamb is also the editor of the conspiracy tract Operation Vampire Killer 2000.

  • Leroy Pyle belongs to the Illinois Militia and is systems operator for the Paul Revere Network computer bulletin board, which recently added a "militia conference."

  • Self-described "hard-core" board member T.J. Johnston is the founder and commander of the Orange County Corps. Because California law bans militias, Johnston characterizes his organization as a "group."

  • In 1990 rock musician Ted Nugent told the Detroit Free Press magazine that "apartheid isn't that cut and dry. All men are not created equal." In the same interview Nugent expounded on his racial views, "I use the word n----r a lot because I hang around with a lot of n----rs, and they use the word n----r, and I tend to use words that communicate...." In a July 1994 interview, Nugent called Hillary Clinton a "toxic c--t," adding, "This bitch is nothing but a two-bit whore for Fidel Castro." And following the Oklahoma bombing, Nugent stated that he had "no problem" with militias and defended the Michigan Militia, adding, "I shoot with these people."

  • Jeff Cooper authors the monthly column "Cooper's Corner" for Guns & Ammo magazine and also writes the newsletter "Jeff Cooper's Commentaries." Cooper regularly refers to Japanese as "Nips," and has suggested calling black South Africans from the Gauteng province "Orang-gautengs." In 1994 he wrote, "Los Angeles and Ho Chi Min City have declared themselves sister cities. It makes sense they are both Third World metropolises formerly occupied by Americans." In commenting on the Senate debate over the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Cooper offered his views on sexual harassment, "[W]e find ourselves most harassed by people who get the accent on the wrong syllable. The word is harass, not harass."

  • Manny Fernandez pleaded guilty in 1983 to criminal possession of a machine gun. Fernandez is also a founder of Californians Against Corruption (CAC), which in 1994 lobbied for a recall vote of California State Senator David Roberti, a longtime gun control advocate. The California Fair Political Practices Commission later found CAC guilty of 404 violations of campaign laws, including concealing contributions from the NRA and other gun groups. The commission fined CAC a record $808,000.

  • Donn DiBiasio, a Providence Rhode Island gun dealer and state lobbyist for the Rhode Island State Rifle and Revolver Association, faced murder charges after he shot and killed a would-be burglar in his gun store. The intruder was unarmed and DiBiasio shot him several times. A grand jury decided not to indict DiBiasio.

  • In 1991 Robert Hodgdon's Hodgdon Powder Co., Inc. agreed with Olin Corporation to pay $250,000 in damages to settle charges brought by the U.S. Department of Justice's Antitrust Division that the companies had conspired to rig bids to purchase surplus gun powder from the Department of Defense. The complaint alleged that Hodgdon had conspired to "suppress and restrict competition for surplus powder." The settlement resolved charges that the company had violated the Sherman Antitrust Act, the Federal False Claims Act, and the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act.

And while the NRA is fond of describing itself as the representative of "gun consumers," there are legions of examples of the NRA choosing the interests of the industry over the safety and well-being of gun owners and the general public. Most recently the organization supported federal legislation that would have severely restricted the rights of consumers injured by defectively designed or manufactured firearms and ammunition. And the NRA's recent opposition to the placing of "taggants" microscopic markers that can aid law enforcement in tracing the source of explosives in certain explosives known as "black powder" may well be explained by its board's composition. The NRA argues that the markers could interfere with the stability of cartridges and shells made by shooters who produce their own ammunition, a practice commonly known as "handloading." What is left unstated is that three NRA board members run businesses that sell reloading equipment and/or supplies used by shooting enthusiasts who make their own handgun and rifle cartridges or shotgun shells:

  • Robert Hodgdon (cited earlier) is president of Hodgdon Powder Company and a charter member of the National Reloading Manufacturers Association. The company makes gun powder. Mr. Hodgdon has in the past maintained that taggants would force an increase in prices that would lead to reduced sales.

  • Steve Hornady is president of Hornady Manufacturing Company. Hornady manufactures a wide variety of reloading equipment as well as ammunition.

  • Kenneth Oehler is founder and president of Oehler Research. His company manufactures chronographs devices used by handloaders to measure the velocity of a bullet to ensure consistency within a batch of ammunition.

Concludes Sugarmann, "Contrary to Marion Hammer's lofty words, the NRA's family album does not paint a pretty picture."




The Violence Policy Center is a national non-profit educational foundation that conducts research on violence in America and works to develop violence-reduction policies and proposals. The Center examines the role of firearms in America, conducts research on firearms violence, and explores new ways to decrease firearm-related death and injury.


   For Release:
   Thursday, June 20, 1996

   Contacts:
   Kristen Rand
   Violence Policy Center

   Josh Sugarmann
   Violence Policy Center