Chris Cox is the National Rifle Association’s chief lobbyist. He has served as the executive director of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action, the political and lobbying arm of the National Rifle Association, since 2002. Cox creates political and legislative strategy for the NRA on a national level.
Cox was in the public eye recently when he made some remarks about Nancy Pelosi and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez at the NRA’s national meeting. Cox told the crowd,
“As the circus goes on, millions of Americans will see how far outside the mainstream these socialists have become. Friends, do you think Nancy Pelosi and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez are mainstream in the United States of America? Are they in for a rude awakening in November next year when the real America goes to the polls? I’m talking about the America you and I know.”
Ocasio-Cortez was quick to strike back at Cox, telling him that the voters in her district were just as much a part of the “real America” as anybody else. She tweeted, “Civics lesson for the NRA: As much as they may not like it, the Bronx and Queens are part of “the real America,” too. Wild that the NRA is suggesting the voters of NY-14 aren’t “real Americans” bc they don’t think assault weapons in school classrooms is a good idea.”
Here’s what you need to know about Chris Cox:
1. Cox Grew Up in Jackson, Tennessee, Where He Says He Had a ‘Wonderful Throwback Childhood’
Cox gave a long interview to his hometown newspaper, the Jackson Sun, back in 2015. He described an idyllic childhood in Jackson, telling the newspaper, “I grew up in a wonderful throwback childhood and family upbringing. I was the youngest of four boys and had a mother and father who taught us values, to try and succeed in life and be good people.” He said that his father, Charles Cox, taught him and his brothers how to hunt and fish, and he reminisced about early-morning duck hunting trips with his father.
Cox told the Sun that he wasn’t interested in politics as a young man — he said he “couldn’t change the channel fast enough” when Meet the Press aired on Sunday mornings. But, Cox said, he decided on a career in politics because he believed that many of the values he’d been raised with were under threat. Cox says that when he first arrived in Washington DC, “I quickly realized that all the things I thought were normal — there was a well-funded and concerted effort to dismantle.” At that point, he said, he decided to stay in politics.
2. Cox Got His Start in Politics Working for Tennessee Representative John Tanner
Cox says that as a young man, he wasn’t especially interested in politics, although, he says, he was always interested in reading law. But after graduating from college, he took a job as a legislative aide to John Tanner, who was a congressman from Tennessee at the time. Cox says that he was planning to work for Tanner for a year and then go to graduate school. But as it turned out, Cox said, he decided to stay in politics and fight against what he saw as the growing movement to curb gun rights. Cox told Ammoland:
“My plan when I took the job was to work for a year or so and then enter graduate school. But, soon after I started, a number of organizations began attacking law-abiding gun owners—like me—by advocating for gun control as an answer to violent crime. I took that very personally, and when the opportunity to work for the NRA came up, I jumped at the chance.”
3. Cox & His Wife Have a Son & a Daughter
Chris Cox lives in Virginia with his wife and their two children, a son and a daughter. Cox often talks about the strength he draws from his family; he told his hometown newspaper, the Jackson Sun, that he hopes to be the kind of present, dedicated father that he had himself. He also told Ammoland, “My balance has always come from the same place—my family. There is no greater reward for me than being a father, husband, son and brother. These are also the folks who keep me centered and rejuvenated when things get hectic or tough.”
Cox has also spoken about the importance of training children in gun safety; he says that a large part of the NRA’s budget goes, not on lobbying, but on free classes for children and adults about hunter safety and gun safety.
4. He’s a Member of Donald Trump’s Second Amendment Coalition
In November of 2016, just ahead of the presidential election, Donald Trump launched a “Second Amendment Coalition,” which included “pro-gun congress members” and a number of high-profile gun manufacturers. The coalition was to be chaired by both Chris Cox and by Donald Trump Jr.
Cox said at the time, “This election isn’t about the next four years. It’s about the next forty years, so voting for Hillary Clinton, or not voting, is simply not an option. The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that we have a fundamental, individual right to protect ourselves and our families with a firearm in our own homes. [But] Clinton said, “the Supreme Court is wrong on the Second Amendment.’ A Clinton Supreme Court means your right to own a firearm is gone.”
Cox’s official NRA biography describes him as a member of President Trump’s Second Amendment Coalition.
5. Cox Earned His BA from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee
Cox graduated from The Baylor School, a boarding school in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He went on to earn his BA at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee. Cox went to work as a legislative aide for then-representative John Tanner after he graduated from Rhodes. He says that he was originally planning to spend a year working in Washington and then go to graduate school back in Tennessee; he says that as a young man, he was much more interested in law than in politics. But after arriving in Washington, DC, Cox says that he felt that Second Amendment rights were under threat, and he decided to stay in politics. When he was offered a job as a lobbyist with NRA, he accepted the position.