The National Rifle Association made Jason Ouimet the permanent head of its Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) during the gun rights group's Saturday board meeting.
"Jason is a principled leader with tremendous field vision and political savvy," NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre told the Washington Free Beacon in a statement. "He has a strong campaign background and more than 15 years as a government affairs professional at NRA playing pivotal roles in all NRA's legislative accomplishments and victories. Our 5 million members and America's gun owners have the strongest ally and the best advocate in Jason."
Ouimet was appointed to the position on a permanent basis by LaPierre and confirmed without objection by the board.
"I thank Wayne and the NRA leadership for entrusting me with a post so crucial to America's freedom," Ouimet said in a statement. "Backed by millions of patriotic NRA members, NRA-ILA is the foremost defender of our Second Amendment, the safeguard of freedom itself."
Ouimet had already been acting as the interim head of ILA after Chris Cox was forced out as a result of the group's recent leadership fight. Cox had run the lobbying operation since 2002 and was well-respected on Capitol Hill. His departure has raised questions over how well the organization will be able to influence the upcoming 2020 elections—especially after being outspent by gun control groups in 2018.
"Chris Cox is the guy everybody dealt with," Steven Law, president of the Senate Leadership Fund, told Politico. Gregg Keller, a former American Conservative Union executive director, told the publication that "the situation has folks nervous."
Ouimet is now the one who will have to restore confidence in the gun rights group's effectiveness on Capitol Hill. He is currently orchestrating the response to the most recent push for new gun control measures after mass shootings last month in Texas and Ohio. President Trump has yet to announce what gun policy he'll support but prospects for sweeping new gun control laws favored by Democrats are growing dimmer by the day.
Ouimet's resume is an asset in the fight. He has a great deal of experience within the NRA and in national politics. After graduating from Kent State in 1999, he worked for the Republican National Committee doing field research in battle ground states for the Bush 2000 campaign. He then went to the National Republican Senatorial Committee where he worked on several successful campaigns before being hired as a legislative assistant by Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R., Ga.).
In 2005, Ouimet was hired to be a lobbyist for the NRA. He has remained with the gun rights group since then. In that time, he has moved from lobbyist to deputy director of federal affairs to director of federal affairs and now executive director of NRA-ILA.
He is well-liked by gun rights advocates inside and outside of the organization and his initial appointment settled at least some nerves within ILA in the wake of Cox being ousted. He has promised the NRA-ILA will continue to aggressively fight new gun control measures under his leadership.
"To every NRA member and gun owner in this country, I pledge that our defense will never waver on my watch," Ouimet said.