|04 Jan 2005 03:28:39|
|- - - Yahoo! News; Sandy Froman - Future NRA President|
Tucson resident will lead NRA
---Froman aims to change its image
---The Arizona Republic
---Jan. 2, 2005 12:00 AM
Sandy Froman heard a strange noise in the middle of the night.
She peered through the peephole and saw a stranger trying to break into her
home. Fear gripped her. As she waited for the police, she tried to scare the
man off: She banged on the door. Cranked up the stereo. The man left, but
the feeling of helplessness was life-changing.
"I realized that no one was going to take care of me but me. The police
can't be on every street corner. You need to be prepared," said Froman, who
lived in California at the time but now lives in Tucson. advertisement
This spring, Froman will take over as the president of the National Rifle
Association, a 4 million-member organization that is one of the country's
most powerful lobbying groups. NRA president is a spot once held by
Hollywood legend Charlton Heston, a man both loved and loathed for his
passionate defense of gun rights.
Froman's goals are to diversify membership and dispel what she calls the
"myths of the NRA."
"The media wants to paint us all as a bunch of bubbas and rednecks, but it's
simply not true," Froman said. "The image of the NRA needs to be corrected.
The stereotype needs to be debunked."
Her new job will continue to keep Arizona, a state where the love affair
with firearms hasn't ebbed since territorial days, in the spotlight.
Sandra Susan Froman, 55, wears navy blue business suits and stands a whisker
over 5 feet. A graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Law School, her
favorite hobby is putting together scrapbooks. She didn't own a gun until
she was 32 years old, a few weeks after that stranger tried to pick her
Since then, Froman has turned into an avid marksman and a fierce advocate
for the Second Amendment.
NRA's rising star
She has also blossomed into a rising star for the NRA, an organization that
has been criticized for its hard-line stances on issues such as its
opposition to the ban on assault weapons. Froman officially becomes
president in April at the NRA's convention in Houston. It's one of the most
powerful volunteer posts in the country.
NRA member Jim Norton said Froman will usher in a new era for the
organization, silencing critics who paint the group as radical or extreme.
"She's from Berkeley," said Norton, co-chairman of Sportsmen for Bush in
Arizona. "She's not the person that the anti-gun people can easily
pigeonhole. She's extremely articulate and intelligent."
But some gun control groups said Froman must change the executive staff at
the NRA before she can change the organization's image.
"The real power at the NRA rests with its salaried CEO, Wayne LaPierre,"
said Peter Hamm, spokesman for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
"Sandy Froman, as far as we can tell, is the sort of drink-the-Kool-Aid true
"It would be easy to soften the NRA's image because it can't get much harder
than it is."
Supporters of Froman say she can improve the NRA's public perception and
still be a strong advocate for gun rights. They say she is friendly yet
competitive, tender yet tough. In college her boyfriend broke a date to take
the law school admissions test. She decided to give the test a try.
"I said if he's going to take it, I'm going to take it. I did really, really
well," Froman said with a smile. "He did OK. He went to UCLA; I went to
George Diaz, who lobbies at Arizona's Capitol, praised Froman's energy,
passion and knowledge.
"She will be a great spokesperson; I'm eager to have her as president," said
Diaz, who works for the Pinnacle West Capital Corp. "I think she will do a
lot to encourage women to take another look at self-defense and supporting
the Second Amendment."
But Diaz is disappointed with the NRA for not reaching out more to the
Hispanic community. He said the NRA chose not to endorse Republican Andrew
Pacheco, a lifetime NRA member, for Maricopa county attorney this year. The
NRA eventually decided to stay out of the Republican primary in September.
"They missed a tremendous opportunity to embrace the Latino community," said
Diaz, a 14-year NRA member who is going to let his membership lapse next
year. "We're the fastest-growing community here. Much like the Republican
Party, they failed to embrace a section of the population that shares the
same sort of morals and ideals. It's the future of both the NRA and the
Republican Party. Hopefully, Sandy will examine that."
A tough mission ahead
Froman faces a tough mission. Say "NRA," and it sparks visceral debates and
conjures up certain stereotypes. Gun lovers and sportsmen lionize the group
as a defender of Second Amendment rights. Gun control advocates demonize it
as an extremist organiza- tion.
The image resurfaced last year when the NRA backed a bill in Arizona that
would have allowed patrons to carry guns in bars, nightclubs and restaurants
that serve alcohol.
The bill was shot down but not before it was mocked by the Comedy Central's
Daily Show team on its national cable television show.
The NRA is still a male-dominated organization though the extent of
imbalance is not clear since applicants' gender is not requested on sign-up
forms. Froman wants to break down the anti-gun bias and bring the message to
Froman is promoting an NRA magazine called Women's Outlook, which is
specifically designed for women gun owners.
Arizona residents have made a big mark on the NRA, founded in 1871 by a
Union general. Two of the past six NRA presidents have come from the Valley:
former Arizona Attorney General Bob Corbin and the late Joe Foss.
If anything, Arizona's love affair with firearms has gained momentum.
Part of it is due to political conservatism. Part of it is Arizona's history
as one of the last states to give up the Old West and rugged individualism.
Part of it is an independent, outdoor lifestyle that makes Arizona conducive
to firearms sports from hunting to competitive shooting.
Arizona has some of the least-restrictive firearms laws in the country,
including a fairly liberal law allowing citizens to carry concealed weapons.
Residents who pass a background check and undergo 16 hours of firearms
training are allowed to carry concealed weapons.
Darren LaSorte, a lobbyist for the NRA, said Froman will soften the group's
image with the general public.
"One of her greatest strengths is that she has the ability to win over those
people on the fence and even those who are zealous opponents," LaSorte said.
"She has a good story to tell. Instead of taking the bull by the horns, she
takes a measured approach.
"But when she has to be tough, she can be as tough as nails."
..NRA Life Member