Sandra Froman, a board member of leading gun-maker Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc. (aka Ruger), has come under scrutiny for her connection with the National Rifle Association (NRA), her racist past and what it may mean for gun reform. 

On May 9, Ruger’s shareholders voted to reinstate board members. The Parkland, Florida, shooting brought many investors in gun-making companies to question how these organizations will work to evaluate possible risks. Several groups with voting power questioned Froman’s ability to lead when considering her role as NRA president from 2005 to 2007 and her current standing as an NRA director, which spans the past 26 years, a source told Blavity. 

One of these groups, Amalgamated Bank, which reportedly describes itself as promoting socially responsible causes, presented a list of demands centering around gun safety and sales, claiming the organization would hold its vote for Forman until the demands were met. 

According to Amalgamated CEO Keith Mestrich, the connection between Sturm and the NRA may “inhibit the ability of your company’s board to accurately evaluate the risks the company faces. The NRA plays a key role in shaping the gun industry’s response to calls for gun control measures, opposing even incremental changes and common sense reforms supported by a majority of gun owners.”

The second issue finds heart in Froman’s connection to Nobel Prize-winning physicist William Shockley, who studied a racial lens of retrogressive evolution. Retrogressive evolution is defined by Information About Science and Technology as a “process in which complex forms of organisms develop toward the simpler structural and physiological organizations.” Therefore, instead of evolving toward something better and stronger, a retrogressive evolution reverses this and instead becomes something simpler in nature. Shockley’s theory centers around the idea that intelligence is genetic, which, according to him, helped prove that blacks were inferior to white because they did not have this genetic trait. However, because black people were reproducing at a higher rate, human evolution retrograded as the majority of those who produced held little intelligence. 

In a letter to the National Academy of Sciences, Shockley asserted that, “this research led me inescapably to the opinion that the social and intellectual disadvantages of American Negroes arise primarily from genetic causes.” He suggested those with an IQ below 100 should be offered cash in exchange for voluntary sterilization. 

According to Mother Jones, conversations throughout the early 1970s between Shockley and Froman, who was a student at Stanford where he taught, were recorded. In them, Froman is revealed to have helped edit the letter and is heard giving suggestions on how it should be presented. She also suggested Shockley speak at Harvard University to expand his ideas' reach. 

Despite Froman admitting to knowing Shockley commonly recorded everything, she denies her quotes. And shareholders, which include major investment company VanGuard, voted to reinstate her, anyway. 

“I was just his secretary… and they gave me stuff to type. I typed it… Mostly, I typed what I was told to type,” Froman told Mother Jones. When asked about the recordings, she said, “I have no recollection of any of this. It’s just too long ago.”

Despite this, Froman was voted to another one-year board term this week -- which further exacerbates her problematic positioning and that requires everyone's attention.