Tough Year

by
posted on September 18, 2014
gsagi2015_fs.jpg (3)

Gordon Russell, director of security for the NRA, died earlier this month while attending to his many duties during a Board of Directors meeting. He was 55, but in that short of time he’d accumulated an unbelievable knowledge and skill, thanks in part to the time he spent as a member of the United States Secret Service.

To all who knew and loved him—and that is all of the headquarters staff, past and present—he was better known as “Russ.” He’d greet you with a smile, every day, even if his Dallas Cowboys fumbled another game. He’d also keep you in tow and out of trouble, inside the building, at the Annual Meetings or even when angry demonstrators were waiting curbside.

Gordon Russell

If he lost that smile you knew something was amiss, but what the heck, “Russ is here.” A lot of my friends have shared stories the last few days about him taking on protesters and being the tough guy you expect from the chief of security, but I guess I’m lucky to have never seen him in action like that. I did get to witness his death-star stare when a blogger made a ridiculous request at the Annual Meetings in Pittsburgh. He didn’t say a word. The message was delivered with laser-like precision and Russ moved on.

People skills were his hidden talent. When I learned of his death from a former coworker, she commented that no one will ever know how much he helped NRA Publications. Russ helped everyone who needed it, though. His uncanny ability to always do it with a palpable sincerity probably made every employee utter those same words, moments after learning of his fate.

He kept local law enforcement appraised of every photo shoot scheduled outside the building on NRA property, then show up with a big sign that said, “Photo Shoot,” for extra insurance. When some sort of dubious fire code was enforced that precluded physically challenged members of the staff using a battery-run elevator when the alarm rang, he figured out their precise evacuation plans and routes (with alternatives, depending on tower affected). I always called his office whenever rogue protesters or camera crews showed up on the sidewalk out front. It never failed, though, he already knew and had a description down to the size of their Birkenstocks, car they arrived in and probably GPS coordinates.

And he wasn’t one of those “Enforcers” someone grows to resent. Inadvertent and slight infractions always resulted in him looking away, as if he didn’t want to see anything at that point. Then he’d say, “You know the rules.” Thankfully I never was around to witness larger rule breaking, although I did push the limits enough that every time we saw each other his customary greeting was, “I’m watching you.”

NRA lost a great asset in Gordon Russell, but St. Peter now has a great backup when he grabs something to eat. If I get my way I’ll show up right at lunch and get to hear, “I’m watching you,” at least one more time.

Latest

Ranger Point Precision Comet Muzzle Brake
Ranger Point Precision Comet Muzzle Brake

Preview: Ranger Point Precision Comet Muzzle Brake

Threaded-barreled, “tactical” lever guns are experiencing a boom in popularity right now, and Ranger Point Precision has a line of screw-on Comet muzzle brakes to accommodate many of the most popular models from Henry, Marlin and Rossi.

Rifleman Q&A: Roos Underhammer Muzzleloader

From the archives of American Rifleman, read about a German-made, upside-down built, small-bore muzzleloader.

Benelli M4: A Do-It-All Shotgun For Military & Commercial Use

The Italian designed Benelli M4 semi-automatic shotgun has served alongside the members of the United States Marine Corps for over the past two decades, and is also a popular commercial option.

Review: Staccato 2011 P

The M1911 is now well into its second century of production, though many features of the design have been contemporized, including 9 mm Luger variants with double-stack magazine such as the Staccato 2011 P tested here, which is one of five M1911-style models made by Texas-based Staccato, the successor to STI International.

Barrett Firearms Non-Fungible Tokens Coming Soon

Digital Arms has entered into a long-term agreement with Barrett Firearms Manufacturing to develop and market Barrett-branded, Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs).

NRA Gun of the Week: SIG Sauer CROSS

On this week’s “Gun of the Week” video preview, American Rifleman staff tell about the CROSS, a U.S.-made hybrid bolt-action rifle from SIG Sauer.

Interests



Get the best of American Rifleman delivered to your inbox.