June 2005

Downrange: 06/05

Meet NRA’s New President
The face of the NRA has changed from “Moses” to that of a lawyer — a shift particularly appropriate for our times. Sandra S. Froman was sworn in as the gun group’s president in April, taking the chair once held by Charlton Heston, probably the NRA’s best-known president. But she takes over most recently for Kayne Robinson, who has served since 2003. Her term is expected to last two years.

Froman, 55, who earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Stanford and a law degree from Harvard, is a business and employment litigator in Tucson. She’s been on the NRA board since 1992 and was encouraged to run for the board by Bob Corbin, former attorney general of Arizona, who also was president of the NRA for two years.

Having been born and raised in San Francisco, Froman didn’t grow up around guns. She didn’t know anything about guns until the time she was a young lawyer living alone in Los Angeles while going through a divorce. Then a lawyer at Loeb & Loeb in Los Angeles, she was living alone when a man tried to break into her house.

Though he never made it inside, “I was obviously very scared,” she said. The next day, she began taking gun safety classes, then marksmanship courses. She soon bought her first gun, a semiautomatic pistol.

The NRA president’s role is typically more goodwill ambassador than policymaker. And Froman said she preferred to concentrate on the NRA’s less controversial campaigns, including gun safety and marksmanship. Froman, who would be the second female president of the NRA, after Marion Hammer in the 1990s, said she hoped to draw more women to the organization.

The NRA estimates that there are 2 million female hunters and 4 million female target shooters in the nation, and women have become an important source of new membership in recent years. The group has about 4 million members nationwide, but says it does not have a reliable way to say how many are women — largely because many members register using only their initials.

Her résumé is long and distinguished. Before becoming president, she was an NRA first vice-president and a past president of the NRA Foundation. She also served as vice chair of the National 4-H Shooting Sports Foundation, and has attended both Gunsite and Thunder Ranch shooting schools. She is an FFL dealer and an NFA firearms owner, as well as an NRA-certified instructor. In her private life, she is the widow of Bruce Nelson, who was a holster maker, law enforcement officer, and IPSC founder.

But her advocacy of the 2nd Amendment has not been without its costs. “In the process of becoming a gun owner, I discovered how irrational people could be toward the right of self-protection, something they knew absolutely nothing about. I didn’t understand their hostility; after all, I found gun ownership to be entirely liberating. And I swore that I would not let their fear and ignorance go unanswered.”


-Todd Woodard