Neal Knox

Cancer silences “the most influential voice in the fight for gun rights”

Neal Knox, former vice president of the National Rifle Association and long-time leader of the gun rights movement, died at his home on January 17, 2005 following a year-long battle with colon cancer.  He was sixty-nine.  He is survived by his wife, Jay Janen Knox (Shirley) and his four children; Christopher, Shan, Jeffrey, Stacey, and seven grandchildren.

            Born Clifford Neal Knox on June 20, 1935 in Rush Springs, Oklahoma, Neal spent most of his early life in Texas, graduating from Vernon, Texas High School and attending Abilene Christian College.  His early working years included eight years in the Texas National Guard, stints in insurance and the oil business, and assignments as a reporter for the Vernon Daily Record and, later, the Wichita Falls Times and Record News.  At that same time, he was demonstrating his life-long interest in firearms as a freelance writer for several gun magazines.

            Neal realized his dream of becoming a full-time gun writer in 1966 when he became the founding editor of Gun Week newspaper. A few years later he took over as editor of Handloader magazine and oversaw the creation of Rifle magazine.  In 1971 he and his partner moved the magazines from Peoria, Illinois to Prescott, Arizona.

            In 1978 Neal left his dream job and moved to the Washington, D.C. area to wholly commit himself to the cause of gun rights and the Second Amendment. He served four years as Executive Director of the Institute for Legislative Action, the lobbying arm of the National Rifle Association.

            Since 1984, as chairman of the Firearms Coalition, Neal has dedicated himself to writing, speaking and lobbying for the development and support of grassroots gun rights organizations.

            During his life, Neal competed in, and often won, competitions in virtually every shooting discipline, including winning a national title in bench rest.  In addition to his shooting interests, he was an accomplished pilot, holding instrument and multi-engine ratings.

A memorial service was held at Knox’s home church, the Manassas Church of Christ in Manassas, Virginia on January 20. Several speakers offered eulogies, including one by his friend and colleague Tanya Metaksa in which she reviewed his accomplishments, calling him “the only hero of the gun rights movement in the Twentieth Century.”.  

            In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Firearms Coalition Neal Knox Memorial Fund, Box 3313, Manassas, VA 20108.  Tax-deductible donations may be made to Academics for the Second Amendment Neal Knox Memorial Fund.  Contributions may also be made in his name to the Rainbow Children’s Home in Gainesville, Virginia.

A personal message from Neal Knox to his friends and supporters