Sandra S. Froman
President of the NRA
March 9, 2006 - IWA 2006, Nuremberg, Germany
Good afternoon, everyone.
Itís wonderful to be here. Iím honored by your invitation to speak to you.
I want to thank President Peroni for the opportunity to address this distinguished group.
And because I am from the hot, dry desert of Southern Arizona, I want to thank Tom Mason and Vito Genco for arranging the spectacular snowfall for my arrival on Tuesday. If they have the connections to do that, it should be easy for them to stop all gun control efforts at the United Nations.
One of the many reasons I am pleased to speak with you is because this group is so important in the fight to keep the United Nations from taking away our freedom to own, enjoy, use and collect firearms for shooting, hunting and all lawful purposes. You have worked very hard for many years and your efforts have not been in vain. I salute you.
One of your strengths, as a group, is that you collectively bring different points of view, different perspectives to this fight.
I, too, have a unique perspective to share with you. I am considered by some an unlikely person to be president of the National Rifle Association.
First, Iím a woman, in what is traditionally a male dominated organization. Iím only the second woman to be elected president of the NRA in 135 years.
Second, I am a native of San Francisco, California, a city well-known for its liberal anti-gun views, a city that last year voted to ban all guns and ammunition from the city and county.
Third, I was educated in two of the
most liberal universities in the United States, Stanford University and Harvard
How did someone like me take up the shooting sports and become president of an organization that represents 4 million gun owners, an organization that Forbes Magazine and the National Journal voted as the most influential lobbying organization in America?
I came to this cause through interesting circumstances, and it is a story that many who hear it find compelling.
In 1981 I was a young lawyer living alone in Los Angeles. It was 3:00 am, when I first heard the sound at the door.
I stood on my tiptoes to look through the peephole on my front door.
There was a man outside, a stranger, trying to break through the lock on my door.
I thought, itís the middle of the night. Clearly this man doesnít realize that thereís someone at home who sees what he is trying to do.
So I banged on the door from the inside and shouted at him.
I looked again, hoping to catch a glimpse of the criminal leaving. Instead, I was shocked to see him straighten in surprise but not step away.
Then I felt the blood drain from my face as he leaned back down and continued trying to break the lock.
I grabbed the phone and called my next door neighbor.
It rang again and again, but no one answered the phone.
I tried the neighbor on the other side of my house but no one answered that phone either.
So I called the police and quickly explained the situation.
I didnít know how long it would take the police to arrive so I got off the phone and decided to take charge. I turned on all the lights in the house, turned on my stereo full blast, making as much noise and light as I could.
But when I looked, he was still there.
I had no idea what to do. Iím 5í2Ē. I weighed Ė well, letís just say I weighed less than I do now. Iím just not that big.
I would have no chance against the big man on the other side of my door.
Then, all of a sudden, the noise at the door stopped.
I nervously crept to the door and looked outside. He was gone. Evidently, in the end, he could not make it all the way through the deadbolt on my front door.
Twenty minutes later, the police arrived.
That night, I made a promise to myself. I would never let anything like this happen again. I realized that, ultimately, I am responsible for taking care of myself.
The next day, I went to a local gun store.
Now when I say I went to a gun store, you need to understand something: I had never shot, or even held, a real gun in my entire life. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, and there werenít any guns around that I knew of.
No one in the downtown Los Angeles law firm where I worked had a gun, to my knowledge.
I had never gone hunting or target shooting.
All I knew about guns was what I saw on television crime shows, and that wasnít pretty. So when I say I went to a gun store, this is a big deal.
Fortunately, the store owner realized that I had no experience with firearms and suggested that I take a firearm safety course before buying a gun, and I agreed.
I took the course, and another, and found out that I enjoyed target shooting. Soon I bought my first firearm.
My life would never be the same.
I diligently went to the range to practice. I became a good shot, and I learned to take the pistol apart to clean it, reassemble it and make it ready to fire.
I liked the security and discipline of knowing how to handle a firearm and knowing that I now had an option if a criminal tried to take advantage of me again.
But I met many people who didnít like the idea of people having firearms. Some of those people were lawyers in my law firm.
They thought anyone Ė and I do mean anyone -- who owned a gun was a dangerous criminal. They didnít understand why I felt the need to have a gun to protect myself.
One day at the range, I asked a couple folks who were shooting why some of my colleagues were so opposed to firearms.
Seeing that I knew nothing about this, they said, ďWell, if you want to know about the politics of gun control, you should join the NRA.Ē
And so I did.
Ten years later, after getting married to a law enforcement officer and moving to Arizona, I spoke at a gathering in Phoenix and met the Arizona Attorney General, Bob Corbin, who was soon to be elected NRA president. He asked me if I would consider running for the NRA Board of Directors, and I did.
I was first elected to the Board in 1992 and like many of you, have served without compensation for the past 14 years because I believe in the importance of the cause.
Our Board is very large (76 directors, elected nationally by our 4 million members). In 1998, I was elected as Second Vice President of the NRA under President Charlton Heston. In 2003, when Mr. Heston retired, I became First Vice President. And almost a year ago, the Board of Directors elected me as President.
Itís been quite a journey.
And in a sense, the journey has just started.
The path Iíve traveled has taken me to NRA competitive shooting events,
Iíve learned to hunt and enjoy cooking the wild game Iíve harvested,
Iíve visited our members all over the United States,
Iíve lobbied the US Congress and various state delegations,
And Iíve been a guest of the President and Mrs. Bush at the White House.
Iíve been a part of nearly every facet of NRA.
And what you may not know is that the organization that everyone thinks is only a political machine is far more than that.
The NRA has trained and certifies every year 50,500 firearms instructors who teach firearms safety and marksmanship to millions of people, young and old, every year.
The charitable arm of NRA, called the Friends of NRA, held over 900 banquets around the United States in 2005, netting over $11.5 million used for NRA educational and charitable programs, including youth education, wildlife conservation, range development and numerous other non-political purposes.
Last year, NRAís competitive shooting arm sanctioned more than 10,000 shooting matches, where young and old, men and women, compete equally for trophies, from BB guns to 1,000 yard matches involving high power rifles.
NRA has a history of supporting law enforcement. During 2005, our law enforcement division conducted nearly 100 schools in 48 states and 4 countries.
The NRAís National Firearms Museum is a world class museum consisting of 15,000 sq. feet at NRAís headquarters. It houses some of the rarest firearms in the world. The 4,000 arms and 2,500 accoutrements in the collection currently span the centuries from 1350 to the present and are housed in 82 permanent exhibits and 15 galleries.
Since 1988, NRAís youth shooting sports and safety programs have reached over 18 million young people, and are often credited with the dramatic reduction of shooting accidents over the past 18 years.
Our hunter services division provides training and education to hunters, young and old. In addition, our disabled shooting services department helps accommodate elderly and handicapped shooters and hunters so they can continue to enjoy the sport in their later years.
Turning to the political side, NRA was successful last year in passing the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, to stop predatory lawsuits from bankrupting the American firearms industry.
In addition, the rapid spread of right-to-carry legislation in America has greatly improved the ability of ordinary Americans to protect themselves and their families.
Thirty-eight states now allow for law-abiding citizens to carry firearms in compliance with their stateís laws.
Just like those of us in this room have learned from joining together at the World Forum that our cultures are not so different, we must also remember that our goals as organizations are not so different.
We all want to continue to enjoy and maximize the opportunities that exist in our various countries to shoot and hunt, to prevent further erosion of our respective rights, and to increase the number of people who will stand with us to defend those rights.
We have among the people sitting in this room the capacity to achieve the World Forumís objectives. We have within this room all of the skills we need to achieve success. The only question is whether we have the will.
The World Forum has fought long and hard against an almost overwhelming enemy. Yet we are still here. There is something in the core of our being that will not allow us to give up the fight. No enemy will vanquish us. The only force that can stop us is our lack of commitment, our lack of will.
So I urge each and every one of you, to use this time we have together to renew your commitment, to strengthen your will, to think about the consequences of losing your rights and to promise yourselves and each other that you will not let that happen.
We at the NRA are proud of what you have done in the international community, and are proud to be a part of the World Forum.