Earlier this week, NRAblog sat down with NRA Second Vice President James W. Porter, II at the Long Range High Power Championships in Camp Perry, Ohio.
When did you get your start in the NRA?
I was elected to the board for the first time about twenty years ago. Then there was a break of service for a few years, but since 1997 my service has been consecutive.
Sounds like a long time.
Well I was sort of born into the NRA. Literally, it’s my family. My dad (Irvine C. Porter) was on the board and served as President in 1959-1960. I practically grew up in Camp Perry over the first 18 summers of my life. It was a wonderful group of people. Alice Bull and her family. The Lymans, Charlie, Wally, Big Charlie and Pearl. Mr. Whittington and everyone was here – all part of the NRA family.
They use to have a board meeting here during the national matches every summer. So you had most of the board members and most of the officials in the organization here. People like Harlan Carter. It was just a wonderful group. And an absolutely fabulous way for a youngster to grow up.
Back then the military was still running things. That meant mess hall grub - which was perfect for a kid like me.
And before you started with the NRA?
I went to college at the University of Alabama in 1967, graduated in 1971 and then went to law school. I worked one summer for John Wilson who was outside legal counsel for the NRA in Washington, DC. A fascinating guy and wonderful lawyer. He represented Ehrlichman and Bob Haldeman in the Watergate hearings.
And your work as a lawyer?
Well, I have an interesting practice. I represent cities, public entities and governments. Some other transactional matters but mainly litigation. I also represent firearms manufacturers in product cases.
During your work with the NRA, you must have served on a number of committees.
I’ve been the Chairman of the Finance Committee, the Legal Affairs Committee for a number of years. I’ve served on just about all the committees and all the funds. I was a founding trustee of the NRA Foundation and then served as president. Now I’m back as a trustee of the Civil Rights Defense Fund. The Whittington Center Special Contribution Fund, and I’m also the chairman of the American Firearms and Shooting Foundation which is the first foundation 501(c)(3) that the NRA set up many years ago.
Why make the trip to Camp Perry during Long Range High Power?
I haven’t been out here for a great many years. And there’s a trophy named after my dad that I’m going to award tonight which is quite an honor to me and that’s something I look forward to doing. And I’d like to thank all the volunteers for all the work that they do here. We couldn’t’ do it without them.
What do you hope to focus on during your term?
The strength of the NRA is in its membership and the strength of the organization is in its staff. There is no doubt in my mind that our staff is the best staff that we’ve ever had. Extremely proficient, extremely professional, extremely productive and I think they do an excellent job doing the member’s business. And that’s really where my interest rest – to make sure that we have the money and we have the staff and the personnel to do members business.
Before we go, I'm going to ask you what people usually ask me when I tell them I work for the NRA. Are you a good shot?
Goes back to my summers here at Camp Perry. I still have the graduate certificate from the small arms firing school on my wall. I think I was 9 or 10 when I got that. But my brother was more of a competitive shooter than me. He shot up here a great deal. I was more interested in football then I was in shooting.
My dad was distinguished in high power and people ask me if I am as good a shot as my dad was. I say no, but I can pull targets better than anybody.