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Some Grinnell Residents Relieved Pete Brownell Won't Seek Re-Election As NRA President

Brownells, Inc.

Iowan Pete Brownell will not seek another term as president of the National Rifle Association. For some of his neighbors in the city of Grinnell, that’s a relief.

A spokesman for Pete Brownell said he won't run for re-election in order to focus on his family and his business. He owns the Brownells retail store in Grinnell, which markets itself as "the world’s largest supplier of firearms accessories and gunsmithing tools."

Brownell has served on the board of the NRA since 2010 and was elected president in 2017.

Rev. Wendy Abrahamson is the priest at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Grinnell. She calls herself pro-Second Amendment, but sees the NRA as toxic, and is part of group of residents who opposed Brownell's presidency. 

“The office just symbolized a lot, or symbolizes a lot, whoever has it, I think. And at least in my estimation, the NRA is so divisive, even beyond the issue of guns,” Abrahamson said. "It was really, really distressing to have a neighbor in a small town hold that office."

Former Grinnell College president George Drake figures that when the title of president is gone, what has felt like a spotlight on the community will fade. 

"For the president of the NRA to be a well-known person in our community, that's really symbolically something. And it really does paint a target on Grinnell, Iowa," Drake said.

But Drake said the Brownells' active role in the community is a still a moral issue for some residents. The Brownells recently helped build a new emergency center at the Grinnell Regional Medical Center, and support a community education program at Grinnell College. 

“You know, for some people this is blood money. And I understand that," Drake said.

He said he doesn't see the economic aspect changing much.

"The Brownells company and warehouse and so on sitting out there on Interstate 80 is not going away," Drake said.

A spokesman for Brownell says he will remain on the board of the NRA. On Monday the organization said Fox News host Oliver North will be sworn in as president in the coming weeks.

Kate Payne was an Iowa City-based Reporter