Wendy Cunningham, NRA National Firearms Museum

Wendy Cunningham, NRA National Firearms Museum

Today we continue our quest to interview some of the most interesting and good-humored people in the shooting community. We’re pleased to have met Wendy Cunningham of the NRA National Firearms Museum at this years NRA Annual Meeting. Little did she know what she was getting into when she agreed to do an interview with us…

So Wendy, who did you have to bribe to get a job at the NRA National Firearms Museum? Or was it blackmail? You can tell us, we’ll keep it to ourselves.

Well, there is a certain individual who works in publications that would be really upset if I revealed his man-crush on David Hasselhoff (you know how the Germans just love David Hasselhoff) but I think we’ll leave that for another day.  Honestly, I’ve been interested in getting my foot in the door at the NRA for a long time so a little perseverance and a whole lot of patience paid off.

Wendy, the first step to recovery is to admit the problem. This is a great place to confess to our readers that you spend most of your daylight hours playing with the Museum’s guns right?

I’m sure I am supposed to start this off by reminding your readers that guns are not a toy…but we do have a Red Rider BB Gun after all.  I wish I could say that I get to go down on the range and run countless rounds through a fully automatic HK MP5, or sound off the all familiar“thump-thump-thump” of a Grease Gun.  Oh, wait, I do!  But in all honestly, even though I get to help set up displays like our current Hollywood Guns display, or beautiful new Galleries like our Petersen Gallery, the majority of my work is from behind a desk.  I run the office, produce our graphics and do our advertising, as well as multitude of other things.

Yeah, right. We believe you. Sure. What’s your personal favorite item in the collection and why?

That’s a tough one.  Depends on which Wendy you’re talking to.  What?  You didn’t know that I have multiple personalities?  If you are talking to Wendy the movie buff I might reach for John Wayne’s Winchester 1892, the large looped carbine he used in True Grit, or the nonconventional Star Wars Light Saber (too bad the batteries are dead.)  If you are talking to Wendy the historian, she loves Teddy Roosevelt’s…oh let’s be realistic, you are talking to my daddy’s little girl, the one you couldn’t keep off the railroad tracks and out of the trees, and she is going to tell you, hands down, the HK MP5 is what she wants her left index finger tickling.  It is like knowing you have a 502 horsepower V10 when you push the pedal to the floor.  Go big, or go home.

We’ve been to the NRA Museum, and its quite impressive! If you had to guess, what percentage of the entire collection to the current items on display represent? In other words, how much goody-goody-bang-bang do you all have stashed away in the back rooms and secret vaults?

If you saw Larry the Cable Guy visit the Museum on his new show, In America, you would have caught a glimpse of our firearms vault.  There are probably just as many guns down there as we have on display, however, we keep the best of the best on display for the public to see.  All but one…the Ghostbusters’ Proton gun.  Here at the NFM, “We ain’t afraid of no ghosts.”

OK, if you’re going to throw down the gauntlet like that, we demand to shoot and evaluate the Ghostbusters Proton Gun. We’re NRA members you know, so I think we’re entitled. Oh, and send some cool 3-D ghost targets with it. We’ll get it back to you in a couple of months. Fair enough?

I’d love to help you on that one but the last member that requested to test fire the Proton Gun ended up as a puddle of green plasma.  I’m sure you can understand the explanation I had to offer up was sticky at best.  (No pun intended, of course)  If you remember correctly, the original Proton Gun was called a Positron Collider.  I can’t say exactly where I’ve obtained this information but some have referred to this device as an unlicensed nuclear accelerator.  Dr. Venkman can neither confirm nor deny this claim, however, a certain extoplasmic entity, who wishes to remain nameless (and owes me money for dry-cleaning) stands by his statement that the Proton Gun’s maximum power setting is 500,000 MHz.  Doesn’t sound like something I’d want to mess around with.

So tell us how the Museum goes about getting new firearms for the collection. From what I understand, you all hop on the corporate jet a couple times a week to solicit donations. True?

I think on our last lunch trip for Sushi we must have forgotten where we parked that corporate jet of ours.  You can typically find the curators rolling across country in one of several SUVs, possibly with a Rubbermaid cart strapped to the top for wheeling around the heavy loads. Oh no, wait, that we left in pieces in the parking garage.  Ladies and Gentleman, the Department of Transportation puts up height warnings for a reason!  Luckily for us, many generous folks near and far offer donations and it is because of their generosity that we are one of the leading Firearms Museums in the world.

Can you tell us about any upcoming projects of exhibits that the Museum is working on?

If I told you, then I’d have to…well, you know how the rest of that sentence goes.  I can tell you to stay tuned.  We have a lot of exciting projects in the works that will keep people coming back.  You just never know what you might find, or who you might see, when you walk through the doors here at the National Firearms Museum.

Our thanks to Wendy and others at the NRA National Firearms Museum who helped us learn a little more about what really goes on at the NFM!