By Gina M. Schmidt, America’s 1st Freedom
NRA President Jim Porter refers to himself as a country lawyer, but many note he is a top-notch attorney with a great legal mind, making him the perfect choice to head the NRA as it takes on legal cases to further preserve our firearm freedoms.
“For Jim Porter, it’s personal. He’s been an NRA member all his life and has a deep appreciation for the heritage of our association,” says NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre. “Jim has now become the first son in history to follow his father in service as NRA president, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. In the critical aftermath of U.S. Supreme Court decisions in the Heller and McDonald cases, Jim’s success as a trial attorney, seasoned in firearm law, bodes well for preserving the heritage of the NRA and future of the Second Amendment we all cherish.”
NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris Cox concurs. “Jim brings a long history of involvement with and service to NRA and will serve our members well during his term as president,” says Cox. “He has been extremely supportive of ILA throughout the years and I look forward to continuing our work together.”
Jim Porter’s life began in the bedroom community of Homewood, Ala., a suburb of Birmingham. “My childhood was a bit like a ‘Leave It To Beaver’ episode,” Porter recalls.
He walked to his elementary school every day. His high school, Shades Valley, was a highly regarded public school with an interesting mix of diverse ethnicities, “it was a wonderful, eclectic environment.”
Porter’s mother, Sarah Sterrett Porter, was a teacher whose favorite subject was Latin. Porter preferred history. “I was always interested in history,” he says, “particularly the Greek City-States and the Roman Republic, and I am interested in the history of our own republic.”
Jim is the youngest in his family with two sisters and a brother. He is a sixth-generation Alabamian who was blessed to grow up in the outdoors.
“My dad was an avid outdoorsman and we grew up hunting and fishing,” he recalls. “He loved to quail hunt and we raised bird dogs. I was able to spend a lot of time with him hunting in the field. I grew up hunting quail, dove shooting, duck hunting, turkey hunting and deer hunting. We have some family property where we raise timber down in the country, so to speak, and have been preserving the wildlife in that area for more than 50 years.”
The Porter family has been involved in conservation for generations. “Jim is strongly committed to the rank and file hunters. During his long tenure on the Alabama Conservation Advisory Board, he never once lost sight of the common man,” said Corky Pugh, long-time director of the Alabama Wildlife & Freshwater Fisheries Division.
Camp Perry and The NRA
Porter’s first rifle was an M1 Carbine that he took deer hunting. His first shotgun was a Browning over/under for bird hunting. “That shotgun was fired by my dad and me, and now my son has it,” says Porter. “Manufactured about 1939 and it still shoots great. I really would like to get it back but I don’t think I will.”
As a boy, Porter spent a few weeks each summer at Camp Perry, watching his dad participate in the National Matches. “I attended the small arms firing school, but mainly spent a couple of weeks there while my dad competed in the big bore matches,” he said. Porter’s father, former NRA President Irvine Porter, continued to compete at Camp Perry until he was 75.
“You had the best competitors, the tippity-top in pistol, smallbore and big bore disciplines from around the world,” Porter recalls. “It was a wonderful group of people.” Porter describes the National Matches as a country fair with military parades and all the Army food a kid could eat.
The NRA Board of Directors meetings were also held at Camp Perry, so young Porter met many of NRA’s iconic figures.
“George Whittington, Harlon Carter, Lloyd Mustin and Alvin Badeaux were all pistol shooters,” Porter recalls. “My dad, Allan Cors and Alice Bull were high power shooters. They were like family to me and I am a product of that environment. It was a lot of fun. I was recently up there for the first shot of the 2013 National Matches and it always brings back a flood of good memories.”
Porter and his wife, Kathryn, have been married for 39 years. “Kathryn went to Auburn and I went to the University of Alabama, we met on a blind date after college,” Porter says. He continued on to law school and Kathryn went to work at a printing company. They married after he finished law school.
They have two children. “James W. Porter III, who we call Jay, and my daughter, Kathryn Ludington Porter, known as Katie,” Porter says. “Now, to correct some of the pundits who have said I should be referred to as ‘junior’ and not ‘the second,’ I was named for my uncle, a star football player for the University of Tennessee under General Neyland and all I can say is that those who criticize me for that are woefully uneducated.”
Jay is a lawyer, his wife, Kristin, is completing her residency at The Johns Hopkins Hospital.
“The important thing about Jay and Kristin is that they are the parents of my grandson, Joe, who is 6, a bright, vivacious young man,” notes Porter with pride.