Knox’s iron grip

Neal Knox keeps the NRA board under his thumb by stifling dissent, ousting independent thinkers, and conducting NRA business in secret meetings. The following excerpts from a leaked memo suggests how tightly he controls the board.

December 28, 1995 TO: Col. Wayne Anthony Ross, NRA Director RE: Federal Fitzgerald Ruling/Officers and Directors of Corps. FROM: Bill P. Steg'Kemper, NRA Director For sometime secret meetings of NRA Director Neal Knox and his group of Directors (whom I formerly was part of) discussing strategy for the NRA meetings was one thing. But, when Neal became the 2nd. V.P., it became disturbing to me (especially so when he and 1st. V.P. Marion Hammer wanted to be paid as NRA Officers). It's one thing for us directors to freely and openly discuss the NRA, but another when Officers direct Directors on how they should vote on matters before the board.

Neal explained that some of the Directors were screwing things up by asking questions, voting the wrong way, and not fully understanding the issues on the floor. He went on to tell us we were to follow the lead of our floor leaders

During the last NRA Board Meeting in Washington D.C., an open/informal Directors Town Hall meeting was scheduled. I went and almost no one was there. Neals wife Jay came by to see who did show up. Apparently Knox had called a secret meeting of NRA Directors in another room of the Hotel at the same time, which I wasn't invited too, and others weren't, also.

When matters of "new business" came up in the following NRA Board meeting it quickly became apparent what secretly occured in the meeting of Officers and Directors. Motions were made, seconded and swiftly passed radically changing the NRA By-Laws, which you vainly tried to stop and several of us unsuccessfully tried to stop or table.


Col. Wayne Anthony Ross, a current NRA board member and former first vice president who describes himself as “very conservative,” was nonetheless targeted by the leadership as a “moderate.”

Bill P. Steg’Kemper, a board member from 1991 to 1995, was not renominated because, according to Ross, he was an “independent thinker.” In the memo, Steg’Kemper complains about secret Knox meetings directing board members how to vote — including one on the issue of whether Knox and Hammer should receive salaries, breaking a 125-year tradition of unpaid NRA leadership.

According to Steg’Kemper, Knox was not fond of board members who asked questions at meetings. “When you ask too many questions,” Ross told Mother Jones, “and you don’t vote the way you’re told, you don’t get renominated.”

Steg’Kemper describes how he went to a scheduled board meeting only to find an empty hall. Elsewhere, Knox had convened a secret meeting of the board without inviting Steg’Kemper.

In the official meeting, it became clear to Steg’Kemper that everyone else had been secretly briefed on how to vote. Motions were swiftly passed without discussion, even on radical changes in the bylaws.

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