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WOMAN LITIGATOR, HUNTER EXPECTED TO HEAD NRA

An avid hunter, Sandra S. Froman, is expected to be elected today as president of the National Rifle Association, becoming only the second woman ever to head the organization.

Froman's love affair with guns -- or, more specifically, with what she feels is her constitutional right to own guns -- dates back nearly 25 years, to a fateful night in the Hollywood Hills.

Then a lawyer at Loeb & Loeb in Los Angeles, she was living alone at the time when a man tried to break into her house. Though he never made it inside, "I was obviously very scared," she said in an interview last week.

"It was one of those epiphanies," she said. "What would have happened if he had gotten in? I realized that I had to take responsibility for my own personal safety."

The next day, she began taking gun safety classes, then marksmanship courses. She soon bought her first gun, a semiautomatic pistol, plunging into a new passion that will culminate this week when she is expected to be elected president of the National Rifle Association at its annual convention.

The convention began Friday in Houston. The organization's 76-member board of directors is scheduled to elect Froman, currently the NRA's first vice president, today. She is expected to serve for two years and will succeed Kayne Robinson, who has served since 2003.

Froman, 55, who earned a bachelor's degree in economics from Stanford University and a law degree from Harvard University, is now a business and employment litigator in Tucson, Ariz.

The daughter of a civil servant father and a mother who worked in a department store, she grew up in the San Francisco area. Her parents did not have guns and, she said, "I didn't have any strong feeling about them one way or another."

Today, she is an avid hunter, whether it's hogs in Texas or quail in Arizona, and is frequently searching for new recipes she can use to cook her prey. Occasionally, she participates in competitive target shoots.

She said the Second Amendment provides the most important civil liberties that Americans enjoy. "If someone tries to deprive you of those rights that we all enjoy, any one of our civil rights, ultimately it is the right to keep and bear arms, the right to protect yourself, the right to protect your country, that guarantees the others," she said.

Froman has already angered some gun-control advocates. In March, after a Minnesota gunman killed five classmates, a security guard and a teacher before taking his own life, Froman suggested to reporters that the United States should consider arming teachers to protect students.

On Thursday, she backed away from that contention. She said her comments "may have been taken out of context," and said she and the NRA continued to support laws that prohibit most guns on school grounds.

The NRA president's role is typically more goodwill ambassador than policy-maker. And Froman said she preferred to concentrate on the NRA's less controversial campaigns, including gun safety and marksmanship. Froman, who would be the second woman president of the NRA following Marion Hammer in the 1990s, said she also hoped to draw more women to the organization.

The NRA estimates that there are 2 million female hunters and 4 million female target shooters in the United States, and women have become an important source of new membership for the group.

The group has about 4 million members nationwide but says it does not have a reliable way to say how many are women -- largely because many members register using only their initials.

Froman has been instrumental in the development of NRA programs for women. She helped launch, for instance, women-only hunts through an NRA program designed to create more shooting opportunities for women.

The hunts are quite popular. Seven are being offered before the end of the year -- including wild boar hunting in Tennessee and antelope hunting in Wyoming -- five of which are sold out.

"Sometimes people forget that the NRA is an organization that has more than just a lobbying arm," she said.

Gun rights leaders say, however, that they also expect Froman to be a fierce advocate.

"She will be a tough and articulate spokesman," said Joe Olson, a professor at the Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul, Minn., and the president of the Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance. "She will be unbending on the Second Amendment."

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