In March, we reported on a series of restrictive policies governing firearms that had been approved by the governing body of the well-known networking and service club, Rotary International. This week came a welcome turn of events, as the club’s board of directors announced that the rules, which had been set to take effect July 1, have undergone substantial “clarification.”
The policies as originally announced in January had banned any Rotary entity – including clubs and districts – from selling, raffling, or transferring firearms. It also banned these entities from participating in activities where any sort of firearm raffle or other transfer occurs, whether or not Rotary is the owner of the items. Rotary entities were additionally prohibited from sponsoring or conducting gun shows or other exhibitions involving guns and even from “accept[ing] sponsorship from any entity whose primary business is the sale or manufacturer of guns, weapons or other armaments.
Rotary’s board of directors had cited “financial and reputational risk” as justification for the rules.
A number of Rotary’s American members, however, spoke out in opposition to the new rules. Fortunately, their voices were heard, and Rotary announced changes to the rules this week.
Under the revised guidelines, Rotary entities are expressly authorized to “participate in activities involving the sale, give-away or transfer, including raffles, of guns, weapons or other armaments ….” The entity, however, must not “take ownership of the item(s)” and any transfer of ownership of a firearm must be “handled by a licensed third party in compliance with all applicable laws.”
Entities engaging in activities that involve firearms, including sport shooting activities, are further required “to consult with legal and/or insurance professionals to ensure that they are adequately protected.”
The ban on sponsorship of Rotary activities by firearm-related companies was also lifted.
An email announcing the changes said they were made “in response to comments from our members ….”
The NRA is very pleased that Rotary has reconsidered its position and will continue to allow its entities to conduct these popular events. It speaks well of the club that it was willing to chart a more moderate path in response to member concerns.