Joe Camel with Feathers – Section Two: “New Blood Really Helps”

The NRA denies charges that the Eddie Eagle program is a thinly-disguised marketing tool for itself and the gun industry. The brochure “The Eddie Eagle Gun Safety Program” attempts to assuage any fears that the program’s mascot is merely Joe Camel with feathers by reassuring parents:

Eddie Eagle is the educational gun safety mascot for young children—not an NRA spokesman. So that young children do not confuse Eddie’s message, he does not appear where firearms are being used, displayed or sold.

Yet the program fails to meet even this limited, self-imposed standard as illustrated in a September 1992 American Rifleman article, “The Eagle Has Landed.” The sub-title of the article read: “Eddie Eagle flew into Georgia to provide a helping hand as retailing giant Wal-Mart joined with NRA-certified firearms instructors to promote gun safety.” The article detailed the live appearance of a mascot Eddie Eagle at a Wal-Mart “Father’s Day Sale.” A photo accompanying the article shows an NRA display in the store’s sporting goods department. A second photo shows promotional literature for a .44 magnum handgun on the table in front of Eddie Eagle as he talks to children. Eddie Eagle was accompanied at the event by NRA-certified firearms instructors and NRA board members. At the time of the article, the sporting goods departments of Wal-Mart stores sold handguns, rifles, and shotguns. According to the article, that day the Wal-Mart store also participated in the NRA Retail Membership Program, which at the time was in place at more than 1,000 retail outlets across America. The program awards retailers a commission for each new NRA membership sold by the store. In 1994 Wal-Mart stopped selling handguns as the result of several lawsuits holding Wal-Mart and other retailers liable for crimes committed with guns sold in their stores. Today, Wal-Mart sells only long guns.19


More recently, an ad for the 1996 NRA annual meeting in the February 1996 American Rifleman offered the opportunity to “Meet Eddie Eagle” alongside an invitation to “See the largest firearms exhibit in NRA’s history!”


“The NRA is…Plowing New Ground for This Industry”

In arguing why it should be trusted to teach children “gun safety,” the Eddie Eagle page of the NRA’s web sitem offers a “message to parents.” In it, the NRA promises that it is not “a trade organization. It is not affiliated with any gun or ammunition manufacturers or with any businesses that deal in guns or ammunition.”

Contrary to this promise, today’s NRA is the unofficial trade association for the gun industry. It is an active partner with the firearms industry and, as new VPC research shows, receives substantial financial support from it. As noted in a January 1996 article by Bob Lesmeister titled “Your Best Ally…Your Best Deal” published in the industry trade magazine American Firearms Business:

When you, as a dealer, wholesaler, manufacturer, or importer think of the National Rifle Association, you naturally think of the country’s largest and oldest major pro-firearms group. And, no doubt you think of the NRA as strictly a consumer organization. You handle the business end of firearms and the NRA takes care of the legislative and training programs, right? Well, not anymore. The NRA feels that the `barbed wire fence’ separating the firearms industry territory from the end-user Second Amendment advocate domain should come down and both sides of the firearms equation should support each other. They [NRA] are making it easy and they are offering you incentives to help integrate the business end of firearms with the information/training/legislative area.

In addition, each year the NRA receives millions of dollars in advertising revenue from the firearms industry for ads taken out in its American Rifleman and American Hunter magazines. Reported advertising revenue for the organization for 1995 was more than $11 million. The 1996 NRA annual report does not offer a dollar figure for its advertising revenue. Yet, in 1996 alone, NRA board member Steve Hornady’s company, Hornady Manufacturing Company (a manufacturer of reloading equipment and supplies) paid the NRA $163,965 for advertising in its magazines.20 For a brief period in 1996 the NRA had commercial links to firearm manufacturers on the “news” section of its web site.

Yet the clearest evidence that the NRA is misleading children, parents, and legislators about the Eddie Eagle program and its links to the firearms industry is revealed by the activities of its affiliate, The NRA Foundation. The Foundation is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt foundation started by the organization in 1990. It shares office space with the NRA at its headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia. The Foundation is the funding source for Eddie Eagle.

The missions of The NRA Foundation and the NRA itself are virtually indistinguishable, except that money contributed to The NRA Foundation is tax-deductible—despite the fact that most of the Foundation’s tax-exempt dollars are funneled directly back to the NRA itself.

All of the NRA’s political leaders and many of its top officials serve on The NRA Foundation’s board of trustees. According to the Foundation’s 1995 annual report, its 11 trustees include: Wayne LaPierre, NRA executive vice president; Tanya Metaksa, executive director of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action and the organization’s chief lobbyist; Neal Knox, NRA board member and leader of the organization’s hard-line, no-compromise faction; Wilson H. Philips, Jr., who serves as both the NRA’s and The NRA Foundation’s treasurer; Wayne Sheets, who serves as the Foundation’s executive director and is the former head of the NRA’s education and training division; Richard Carone, NRA board member;n and, Robert Hodgdon, NRA board member and CEO of Hodgdon Powder, a manufacturer of black powder and other handloading materials.

In addition, the Foundation’s 1994 annual report reveals that of the $2,824,456 in grants made by The NRA Foundation in 1994, $2,382,884—or nearly 85 percent—were made to the National Rifle Association. Of this, the largest portion—$675,000 or 28 percent—was paid to NRA headquarters for “printing and distribution of program materials” and “support, research, and development” for the Eddie Eagle program. Other NRA programs funded that year by “grants” from The NRA Foundation include: $350,000 to the Women’s Issues and Programs of the NRA for its Refuse to be a Victim program; $340,000 for Youth Programs of the NRA; $175,000 for Youth Hunting Skills Education Programs of the NRA; $150,000 for shooting range development; and, $125,000 for Promotion and Support of the Becoming an Outdoors Woman Program. In 1995, of the $3,724,621 in grants made by the Foundation, $2,546,921 or 68 percent were paid to NRA headquarters. Of this, $525,000 or 21 percent were earmarked for the Eddie Eagle program. An additional $64,777 in grants were made to 19 states for support of the Eddie Eagle program. [Please see Appendix Four for a listing of 1994 and 1995 Eddie Eagle grants made by The NRA Foundation.]

The NRA Foundation actively solicits gun industry dollars. At the NRA’s 1997 Annual Meeting in Seattle, Washington, Foundation staff handed out reprints of an article from Fishing & Hunting News titled “Industry’s NRA Endowments=`Foundation for the Future.'”o The article, by Dave Workman, detailed how the programs supported by The NRA Foundation, including Eddie Eagle, benefit the firearms industry and urged industry members to help support the Foundation. According to the article, The NRA Foundation is “getting some major league support from several giants in the industry” and one industry member estimated that as many as 20 firearm industry companies or their CEOs were involved in the Foundation’s fundraising efforts.

According to The NRA Foundation’s Wayne Sheets, “The industry is an indirect beneficiary of this program [The NRA Foundation].” Later in the article Workman notes, “Perhaps NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre summed it [sic] best about the NRA Foundation, and what it means to the industry”—

It means gun safety, Eddie Eagle, hunter safety; those day-to-day educational programs that all of us as gun owners want in our cities and towns….It protects the future of the shooting sports by insuring that young people, and women, and men, who may not be in the sports today will be in tomorrow.

In the piece, Workman renders the Foundation’s mission down to its essence: “The Foundation is a mechanism by which the firearms industry can promote shooting sports education, cultivating the next generation of shooters. Translate that to future customers.”

In addition to Hodgdon, some of the key gun industry backers of The NRA Foundation cited by Workman include: Frank Brownell of Brownell’s Incorporated, another reloader manufacturer; NRA Life Member Larry Potterfield, head of Midway Arms, a catalog center for reloading components and other firearm accessories; Bill Ruger, head of firearms manufacturer Sturm, Ruger & Co.; and, Frank Kenna, CEO of Marlin Firearms. In the article, these industry members are enthusiastic about the benefits The NRA Foundation and its programs can offer the firearms industry.

NRA board member and NRA Foundation trustee Robert Hodgdon’s advice to “everyone in the industry” is to:

look at their business the way I do mine. Our company has always looked to the future and we have made today’s decisions on the fact that we intend to be in business for a long time. The businesses in our industry owe it to themselves to endow the NRA foundation, which is the only viable nationwide firearms organization that both serves the shooter and hunter, and maintains our freedoms.

Adds Brownell, “The NRA is…plowing new ground for this industry.” Brownell’s “philosophy,” according to Workman is simple, “You always have to bring young people into anything. New blood really helps. For that reason, I think the (Foundation’s) endowment program is going to be very important to the future of the industry.” And while the NRA has attempted to portray itself as being somehow apart from the firearms industry, this false distinction is lost on the industry members themselves. Says Brownell, “I consider it a privilege to be able to help support the people in our industry who are helping to make it possible for me to feed my kids, and I feel an obligation to support the industry because it has been good to us.”

The Gun Industry’s Favorite Charity 

The NRA Foundation’s status as the gun industry’s favorite charity is confirmed by its 1994 and 1995 annual reports. The NRA Foundation counts a wide range of gun industry members among its financial supporters, including: manufacturers of long guns and handguns (including Saturday Night Special or “junk gun” manufacturers); ammunition manufacturers; reloading equipment companies; publishers of gun magazines; and, manufacturers of other gun-related products, such as holsters. It is not known what other gun industry donors may contribute to the Foundation without disclosure.

Firearm manufacturers who are known to provide financial support to The NRA Foundation include:

Browning. In 1995 Browning gave from $5,000 to $9,999 to The NRA Foundation (virtually all reported grants are acknowledged in the Foundation’s annual report as being within a range of giving). NRA board member and 1970s rock star Ted Nugent recently signed on as a spokesperson for Browning firearms and bows. In a May 1997 “Snap Shot” piece in the NRA’s new American Guardian magazine, Browning President Don Gobel said of his company’s new partnership with Nugent, “We hope our affiliation with Ted will be a catalyst for our promotion of the hunting and shooting lifestyle to a younger audience….The youth of America must be educated to the wholesome and valued world of hunting and conservation.” The 1997 Browning catalog features a child on the cover wearing a Browning cap carrying a net bag of duck decoys. Inside the catalog a toddler is shown wearing a Browning shirt as well as ear and eye protection. Another photograph in the catalog shows another toddler wearing a Browning cap while placing expended shotgun shells on his fingers.


European American Armory Corporation. In 1994 European American Armory was a member of The NRA Foundation’s Fair$hare program. The company contributed $1,000 or more to the Foundation. The Fair$hare program is described by the Foundation as, “Created by and for shooting industry companies, this program raises funds for projects and programs supported by The NRA Foundation. Participants pledge to make a tax-deductible contribution of at least 1/10 percent of their annual gross revenues. Donations may be restricted for specific programs or projects.” European American Armory’s Windicator double-action revolvers are “junk guns”—also known as Saturday Night Specials—defined as low-quality, ultra-concealable handguns lacking sporting purpose.

Bill Ruger of Sturm, Ruger and Company. In 1995 Bill Ruger gave from $25,000 to $49,999 to The NRA Foundation. Bill Ruger heads Sturm, Ruger & Co. In November 1997 Ruger appeared in a full-page Foundation ad that ran in the NRA’s American Rifleman magazine. The ad announced the establishment of the William B. Ruger Endowment through The NRA Foundation to “preserve our firearms heritage for future generations” and provide benefits “to our citizens, our community and to our nation.” Sturm, Ruger is also the manufacturer of the most infamously defective handgun ever manufactured: the Ruger Old Model single-action revolver. Manufactured from 1953 to 1972, the Old Model has been associated with at least 600 unintentional firings resulting in serious injury or death. Although in 1972 the weapon was redesigned to incorporate a transfer bar safety device, the gun was never recalled and as many as 1.5 million of them remain in circulation.21 In 1995 Ruger manufactured 197,489 pistols, 148,439 revolvers, 407,785 rifles, and 7,133 shotguns.

Thompson Center Arms Company,. In 1994 Thompson Center Arms Company gave from $1,000 to $4,999 to The NRA Foundation. Thompson Center Arms manufactures firearms for hunting and target shooting. The 1996 dealer catalog features the youth model of the Contender carbine in a photo taken of a father and his 11-year-old son. The catalog copy notes, “After the short buttstock has been replaced by a standard buttstock, this little carbine will be held on to for a lifetime.” In 1995 Thompson Center manufactured 14,055 pistols and 661 rifles.

Ammunition manufacturers who contribute to The NRA Foundation include:

Accurate Arms Company, Inc. In 1995 Accurate Arms Company gave from $1,000 to $4,999 to The NRA Foundation. Accurate Arms manufactures smokeless powders for pistol, rifle, and shotshell loads.

Black Hills Ammunition, Inc. In 1994 Black Hills Ammunition was a member of the Fair$hare Program, in which participants contribute “at least 1/10 percent of their annual gross revenues.” The company contributed $1,000 or more to the Foundation. Black Hills Ammunition manufactures black powder and explosives.

Blount, Inc. In 1994 Blount, Inc. gave from $1,000 to $4,999 to The NRA Foundation. Blount manufactures Speer and CCI ammunition as well as reloading equipment, ammunition magazines, and after-market accessories (folding stocks, etc.).

Federal Cartridge Company. In 1995 Federal Cartridge Company gave from $5,000 to $9,999 to The NRA Foundation. Federal Cartridge Company has helped sponsor numerous programs that promote hunting among youth and women including: the National 4-H Shooting Sports Committee; Safari Club International’s Apprentice Hunter programs; and, the Women’s Shooting Sports Foundation’s Ladies Charity Classic Handgun Events. Federal’s 1996 catalog notes, “Working together with you, we’ll all be able to preserve the rich traditions of hunting and shooting for our children, and their children, for years to come.”

Steve Hornady of Hornady Ammunition. NRA board member Steve Hornady and Mrs. Margaret Hornady each gave from $1,000 to $4,999 to the Foundation in 1994. In 1995 an endowment gift from $5,000 to $9,999 was given by the J.W. Hornady Memorial Trust. Steve Hornady is president of Hornady Manufacturing Company, which manufactures a wide variety of reloading equipment as well as ammunition. Mr. Hornady’s biography for the NRA board notes that he has served on the nominating committees of both the NRA and the National Shooting Sports Foundation. According to the February 1996 issue of S.H.O.T. Business magazine, Mr. Hornady was recently elected to the board of governors of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

Ammunition reloading equipment and component manufacturers who support The NRA Foundation include:

Brownell. In 1994 the Brownell Family donated from $25,000 to $49,999 to The NRA Foundation. In 1995 the Brownell Family donated from $50,000 to $99,999. According to Workman’s Hunting and Fishing News article, Brownell’s family donation is an endowment specified for youth training “to get subsequent generations involved in the shooting sports.”

Goex, Incorporated. In 1995 the Goex black powder company donated from $1,000 to $4,999 to The NRA Foundation. Goex manufactures black powder and explosive propellants for muzzleloaders, the fireworks and safety fuse industries, the mining industry, and U.S. and foreign governments. According to its 1997 promotional materials, Goex sponsors the 4-H Council in its efforts to promote black powder shooting.

Hodgdon Powder Company, Inc. In 1994 Hodgdon Powder Company was a member of the Fair$hare Program, in which participants contribute “at least 1/10 percent of their annual gross revenues.” The company contributed $1,000 or more to the Foundation. The company is headed by NRA board member Robert Hodgdon. In 1995 Hodgdon Powder Company gave from $10,000 to $24,999 to the Foundation. According to Workman’s Hunting and Fishing News article, the company has also made a gift of land to the Foundation which provides funding for a handloading course for youth and that this effort is supported by the National Reloading Manufacturers Association—of which Robert E. Hodgdon is a charter member. In his interview with Workman, Hodgdon—who sits on the NRA’s Finance Committee—explained how recent news reports of the NRA’s continuing financial problems have hindered the organization’s fundraising among industry members: “The big problem is that the press has distorted the financial position of NRA for its own devious (reasons) and a whole lot of the public believes it. Therefore, some of our staunchest backers are hesitant to give money….” In the past, Hodgdon has maintained that legislation that would require the tagging of black powder with microscopic markers—commonly known as “taggants”—to aid law enforcement in tracing the source of explosives used in bombings would force an increase in prices that would lead to reduced sales. In addition, Bruce E. Hodgdon, J.B. Hodgdon, and Robert E. Hodgdon each gave between $1,000 and $4,999 to the Foundation in 1994.

Midway Arms, Inc. Midway CEO Larry Potterfield is the founder of the NRA Round-Up program. The NRA Foundation states that the “Round-Up program has been designed to allow catalog or storefront retailers to solicit funds from their customers for The NRA Foundation or other National Rifle Association affiliates. Consumers may round-up the cost of their purchase to the nearest dollar or make a larger contribution.” Since 1992 Midway Arms has donated more than $1.3 million to the NRA National Endowment for the Protection of the Second Amendment, a non-tax deductible fund in support of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action. The NRA Foundation’s annual reports do not detail how much industry funding the Foundation receives from other “Round-Up” participants. In 1994 Larry Potterfield donated from $1,000 to $4,999 to The NRA Foundation, as did Brenda, Russell, and Sara Potterfield. In 1995 Brenda Potterfield donated from $10,000 to $24,999 to The NRA Foundation.
Other industry related companies that support The NRA Foundation include:

Petersen Publishing Company. In 1994 Petersen Publishing Company donated from $25,000 to $49,999 to The NRA Foundation. In 1995 Petersen gave from $10,000 to $24,999 to the Foundation. Magazines published by Petersen Publishing include Guns & Ammo and Handguns.

Bianchi Leather. In 1994 Bianchi Leather president and NRA board member Donna Bianchi gave from $5,000 to $9,999 to The NRA Foundation. In 1995 Ms. Bianchi gave the NRA Foundation from $1,000 to $4,999. Donna Bianchi is founder of Bianchi International, a manufacturer of handgun holsters. The gun press has noted that holster manufacturers have anxiously watched the progress of NRA-backed “shall-issue” concealed carry legislation in state legislatures as a potential source of increased sales.

A Blossoming Romance?—The Tobacco Industry and the NRA

The NRA Foundation has also received funding from the tobacco industry.p In 1994 Philip Morris Companies, Inc. contributed from $10,000 to $24,999 to The NRA Foundation. Philip Morris is the largest cigarette company in the United States. Its brands include Marlboro (the most popular cigarette brand among teens), Benson & Hedges, Merit, Virginia Slims (the first cigarette marketed directly to women), and Parliament. The company also owns the Miller Brewing Company, the second largest brewing company in America. That same year, the Smokeless Tobacco Council Inc., which “represents the smokeless tobacco industry through its educational, research, public relations, and governmental relations programs,”22 contributed from $1,000 to $4,999 to the Foundation. While the exact reason for tobacco industry support of The NRA Foundation is not clear, possible explanations for this blossoming romance between the tobacco industry and the NRA could include:

The tobacco industry has identified an overlap between gun owners and smokers. Therefore, showing support for gun owners could engender good will among smokers.The NRA and the tobacco industry share an interest in passage of federal tort “reform” legislation which would limit the rights of consumers killed or injured through the negligence or recklessness of product manufacturers, most notably producers of guns and tobacco.

The tobacco industry recognizes the important role the NRA and its pro-gun constituency play in the conservative movement and in the retention of a Republican-controlled Congress, which has been more sympathetic to its interests.

The NRA and Philip Morris share a common lobbying firm, G. Stewart Hall and Associates.

While the annual reports of The NRA Foundation confirm that the NRA is receiving significant funding from the gun industry for Eddie Eagle and other “educational” programs, it is not unlikely that the annual report offers only a brief glimpse of the full extent of the industry’s support. It is not known whether industry members support the Foundation anonymously (for example, while Fair$hare “partners” were listed in the 1994 report, they were not listed in the 1995 report). In addition, some industry supporters cited by Dave Workman in his Fishing & Hunting News article—such as ammunition manufacturers Sierra and Nosler and Marlin Firearms CEO Frank Kenna—do not appear to be cited in the annual reports. Many industry members may also make contributions under an individual’s—as opposed to corporate—name. Additional information about the full extent of the gun and tobacco industries’ support of The NRA Foundation and its programs will require further investigation.
“A Delicate Situation”

When out of the public eye and speaking at gun industry events, NRA staffers are much more candid about the true agenda of the Eddie Eagle program. The S.H.O.T. Show is the annual trade show for the firearms industry and is sponsored by the National Shooting Sports Foundation. The show is closed to the general public and is open only to members of the firearms and shooting sports industries. Each year the National Rifle Association maintains a display area—replete with large pictures of Eddie Eagle and the program’s promotional materials—at the show to mingle with industry members.

At the 1996 show in Dallas, Texas Jeffrey Poole—NRA manager of shows and exhibits in the membership division—talked with an investigator from the Global Survival Network about the “delicate situation” that “gun safety” and children creates:

It’s hard to tell them that guns can be dangerous, without giving them that message that guns are bad, and that’s a delicate situation that we try to work around with…Eddie Eagle….We don’t want to send the message that guns are bad, and scare them to death with guns when they are kids, so it’s…really a fine line.

When asked if the Eddie Eagle program increases the acceptability of guns by children and youth, Poole acknowledged:

Yes, that’s the theory, and when you compare that to the only other gun safety program that’s out there, which happens to be produced by [the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence of] Handgun Control…their message is simply `guns are bad… never be around a gun…stay away from guns, they’re evil, and they could kill you,’ and that’s their message to little kids. We need to counter that with…`guns are not bad, you need to learn how to use them before you touch them.’

When the investigator reaffirmed, “With Eddie Eagle?” Poole replied, “Yes.” Poole also stressed the need for the NRA to build on the Eddie Eagle program and develop a school program for older children that would continue the normalization process:

And, there’s a gap…between let’s say, an eight- or 10-year-old, and then a 15-, 16-year-old, where they’re actually getting out and using a gun….Or, maybe getting a gun of their own. And…we need to cover that gap…because…when you say, `guns are dangerous, be careful with them,’ which is basically what we’re saying here…a lot of people tend to take that as `guns are bad.’ So we need to follow up to a program and say…`People can be bad, but guns are not bad, but we need to learn how to use them….And here’s how.’ And, maybe that program needs to be a little bit more hands on, maybe we need to get something going with airguns and things like that….[W]e feel like if we don’t follow up with something, then we stand a much greater risk of alienating them [kids]. If we tell them when they’re really young…that `guns are dangerous, be careful with them,’ and we never come back and tell them anything else…we could be shooting ourselves in the foot.

“If You Want to Soften up Firearms, What Better Way to Soften it Up?”

Poole’s comments are not the isolated views of a talkative staffer. In March 1996 Jane Colbert, the NRA’s assistant manager for the Eddie Eagle program, presented a workshop attended by an investigator from the Global Survival Network at the first annual Firearms Trade Expo (FTE) which took place in Atlantic City. The FTE is sponsored by the National Association of Federally Licensed Firearms Dealers, a trade association representing gun dealers. Like the S.H.O.T. Show, it is closed to the general public. During her presentation and in discussions afterward, Colbert outlined marketing strategies for getting the Eddie Eagle program into schools and day care centers. She advised that to sell the program pro-gun advocates should modify their usual approach:

[W]hen you go in to talk about the program, you go in and you talk from a safety factor versus a Second Amendment [factor]….I was talking to someone recently who made the statement to me that when you go in to talk about the Eddie Eagle program or to sell it to a school system, that you have to take off, in a sense, your Second Amendment fight hat, and put on your safety hat to talk to the educators….[W]hen you are trying to work with us to get a program in a school in your community, and you’ve been involved in ILA [Institute for Legislative Action, the NRA’s lobbying arm]…you make that shift, and it’s almost like Marion [Hammer] says quite often when she talks about the [Eddie Eagle] program, it’s like a Smokey the Bear shift….You don’t play with matches, you don’t play with guns. It’s that simple, it’s bad.

Colbert also acknowledged the benefits the program can offer to gun dealers:

[W]hen it comes to will the [gun] dealer get some mileage out of it, I think they do, and it’s mileage that the community gives them for being concerned about more than just taking a dollar out of the community….I don’t know how much better mileage you could ask for….Hey, if you want to soften up firearms, what better way to soften it up?

“The Clean-Up Committee”

But Eddie Eagle doesn’t merely “soften up” firearms, according to Colbert, but the NRA itself—especially after political battles over gun control. It is during these times that the Eddie Eagle program acts as “the clean-up committee.” When the Global Survival Network investigator noted, “I think with all the criticism the NRA has gotten, especially with youth, gun violence in the cities, this is a pretty smart thing PR-wise,” Colbert responded:

Yes, it is….I always refer to us as the `clean-up committee.’ ILA [Institute for Legislative Action, the NRA’s lobbying arm] will go in and have a battle with someone over gun rights….Then they send…Eddie Eagle in to do some Eddie Eagle assemblies, or make an Eddie Eagle appearance, which softens everything….And we go in quite often. It quiets it [NRA criticism] down, because it shows that NRA is not just about guns.

Like her staff, Marion Hammer—at other industry events—has expressed confidence that the NRA’s youth programs will boost interest in the shooting sports and benefit “our industry.” The May/June 1996 issue of Shooting Sports Retailer magazine reported that Hammer attended a March 1996 shooting sports summit convened by the National Shooting Sports Foundation to analyze and plan the future of the hunting and recreational shooting sports industry. Hammer noted that the NRA’s “nonpolitical programs” are the “real strength of the NRA,” stating:

We’ve got the programs…that can get young people interested in the shooting sports, and I think, to a great extent, all of us in the shooting sports want to accomplish the same thing. There is no single solution to the problems in our industry so we’ve got to have a multi-faceted approach, work together, share information, and coordinate efforts to protect gun rights. [emphasis added]


Go to Section Three: “The Safest Thing is to Not Keep a Gun at Home”

Back to Joe Camel with Feathers Table of Contents

m) The NRA’s web site is located at The site can also be reached through the “links” page of the Violence Policy Center’s web site located at

n) At the NRA annual meeting in Seattle, Washington in May 1997 the organization announced the results of the members’ election of the NRA board of directors. Richard Carone was not re-elected.

o) A copy of the handout is available from the VPC.

p) Other contributors to The NRA Foundation in 1994 and 1995 included: PM Consulting Corporation, one of the NRA’s consulting firms, ($5,000 to $9,999 in 1994, $1,000 to $4,999 in 1995); Safari Club International ($5,000 to $9,999 in 1994); and, Southwestern Bell Corporation ($1,000 to $4,999 in 1994).