NRA-ILA Benefits From Largest-Ever Firearm Collection Gift

posted on May 7, 2020
Bidding opens on May 7, with hundreds of firearms added daily. Click here to go directly to the auction.

On February 12, 2020, NRA Firearms For Freedom Coordinator, Cliff Burgess, and members of the program auction partner, Bud’s Gun Shop of Lexington, Ky., arrived in Gravois Mills, MO to pack up the largest single collection of firearms ever donated through the program.  There were 711 firearms collected over seven plus decades by retired U.S. Air Force veteran, Bernard “Keith” Bucknell, now 91 years young and concerned about our Second Amendment rights being threatened.

Technical Sergeant (TSGT) Bucknell, USAF (Ret.) and his friend and neighbor, Alan Wehmeyer, met with Cliff at a retirement facility near Keith’s home on the shores of Lake of the Ozarks. Meanwhile, the Bud’s Gun Shop staff labored in packing each firearm and loading it on a covered trailer for the trip back to Bud’s Gun Shop warehouse in Kentucky.

At the warehouse, each donated firearm was researched and photographed for eventual posting on an NRA Firearms For Freedom Auction, where 100% of the highest bid will go to NRA-ILA for its 20 for 20 Campaign. The meeting revealed a sharp individual whose life was filled with fascinating stories about service to country and a love of the shooting sports – the latter clearly reflected in Keith’s collection which has some rare and unusual pieces.

Keith Bucknell’s gun-collecting habit began with exposure to an uncle’s collection at age 14 which inspired him to begin collecting at 18, just before he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps (later to become the U.S. Air Force) in 1948. In the ensuing years, he inherited his uncle’s and father’s collections, and  throughout his many enlistments, he was adding to his collection while also becoming a world class marksman competing for the U.S. Air Force in shooting competitions around the world.

His military career put him near or involved in such historic events such as the withdrawal of Jupiter missiles from Turkey (as a result of the Cuban Missile Crisis) where he had the responsibility for maintaining targeting data. He was also stationed at Edwards Air Base when Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier. TSGT Bucknell was in the Strategic Air Command from its inception all the while keeping up with his passion for shooting and collecting guns.

As a civilian, he competed with and against the famous Jim Clark, who was also in the military, and who took his fame as a shooter into the business of customizing handguns for competitive shooting. Not surprisingly, two of the firearms that will be auctioned are a Clark-customized S&W .38 Special and a Colt 1911.

The NRA is most fortunate to have the support of a longtime life member like TSGT Bucknell, who is leaving a lasting legacy to the shooting sports by designating NRA-ILA as the beneficiary of what is expected to be several hundred thousands of dollars. Bud’s Gun Shop sells firearms donated to the NRA on their online auction site, at no charge to the NRA and at no buyer premium. 

Go to to register and bookmark NRA Firearms For Freedom Auctions so you can see when new auction come up.  Where else can you buy a quality firearm and have 100 percent of your purchase price work for your Second Amendment Freedom? 

It must also be reported that, in addition to firearms donated to support NRA-ILA, TSGT Bucknell donated a large quantity of factory ammunition as well as reloading equipment and miscellaneous firearm-related personal property to be converted to cash through the Friends of NRA Program for The NRA Foundation.

Thank you TSGT Bucknell for your life of participation in the shooting sports and for the legacy you are making to it. Thanks to Bud’s Gun Shop for all it does for the NRA and continues to do in making the NRA Firearms For Freedom Program the successful NRA Member Service Program it has become.

For more information on the NRA Firearms For Freedom program, visit or contact Cliff Burgess at [email protected] or 855-4NRA-FFF (467-2333).


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