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Chris W. Cox has been the chief lobbyist for the United States National Rifle Association (NRA) since being appointed in 2002. He serves as the executive director of the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action, more commonly known as the NRA-ILA.
He oversees eight divisions within the NRA-ILA, including Federal Affairs; State & Local Government Affairs; Public Affairs; Grassroots; Finance; Research; Conservation; Wildlife & Natural Resources; and Office of Legislative Counsel. Cox is also chairman of NRA’s Political Victory Fund, the association's Political action committee.
According to his NRA-ILA biography, Cox enjoyed hunting and fishing with his father and three brothers in west Tennessee. He is a graduate of Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, where he earned a Bachelor's degree in history and minored in business administration.
Before his current appointments, Cox held senior positions within the NRA-ILA. He was promoted to deputy director of the ILA Federal Affairs Division shortly before being named Executive Director of the NRA-ILA.
In 2004, Cox lobbied on behalf of the NRA-ILA to end the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban. Due to a sunset provision, the ban was set to expire after 10 years. Cox utilized a grassroots campaign, which included editorial pieces and news media appearances. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) attached a rider to Congress's Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. Had the amendment passed, the AWB would have been extended an additional ten years. Though President George W. Bush had agreed to sign the ban into law if the amendment passed, Cox and the NRA-ILA lobbyists were successful, and the bill was voted down 8-90. The ban expired on September 13, 2004.
According to his NRA-ILA biography, Cox was successful in lobbying for NRA-supported candidates in the 2004 elections. 95% of the NRA-PVF endorsed federal candidates and 86% of the endorsed state candidates were elected. Cox was at the forefront of a media campaign to re-elect incumbent President Bush, by utilizing the organization's grassroots technique.
As of September 2003, the NRA's focus at the federal level is on a bill to protect manufacturers from certain types of lawsuits. The "Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act" (S.659/S.1806) is also supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, and opposed by many gun-control groups. The Senate amended the bill to extend the assault weapons ban and close the so-called "gun-show loophole", whereupon the NRA withdrew its support; the bill was defeated on March 2, 2004.
A new "Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act" (S.397) passed the Senate (65–31) in late July 2005, passed the House (283–144) on October 20, and was signed by President George W. Bush on October 26, 2005. The bill carried two amendments: requiring the purchase of a trigger lock with any handgun purchase; and authorizing the Department of Justice to study the penetration characteristics of ammunition and make a determination if the ammunition fits the category of "armor piercing". These amendments were rejected by other pro-gun organizations that think these concessions will lead to more restrictions and impetus for lawsuits for those that do not use trigger locks.