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 Sue 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 lock.
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 believer.
"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 Harvard."
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 career-oriented women.
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."
I read that paper. Was going to post it. Did a search first and found this was known last summer. Old but good news.
I hope she kicks ass against the Anti's. Maybe a lady being the head of the NRA will convert some anti's.
WELL.., HOW ABOUT THAT ?????
maybe if we write a few E-mails to her we can get the NRA convention in Tucson !!
i might even re-join if that were possible !!
+1 Shot show too!!!!