A different perspective on the NRA

I’ve long been an opponent of the National Rifle Association.  My reasons are many.  Boiled down to main points, they include (but are not limited to):

  • Rampant disrespect for its members by treating them as if they were a cash cow.  I rapidly grew to resent the seemingly endless phone calls, junk mail and other entreaties for funds, particularly at a time when my income was small enough that even affording the annual membership fee at my local range (which included a required NRA subscription) was tough enough.
  • Apparent disregard for members’ priorities, focusing on what the NRA considered important instead of what its grassroots supporters wanted.
  • Trying to “muscle in” on others’ turf, particularly when it came to claiming credit for gun rights victories (such as Heller) in which the NRA’s initial involvement had been zero to minimal.
  • Blatantly unethical behavior in the insurance marketplace by freezing out an existing vendor, with whom the NRA had a previous business relationship, so as to bring to market a directly competing product (which eventually proved to be a bridge too far for the organization, giving its enemies the opportunity to hamstring it legally and financially).

For those and other reasons, I didn’t bother taking out an individual membership of the NRA when my range membership lapsed after I moved to another town, and I haven’t bothered since.  I regarded the organization as a liability rather than an asset.

However, there’s another approach.  Here’s NRA Board Member Duane Liptak’s perspective.

Is the NRA perfect? Oh, heck no! No organization is. But they are our only real chance. The NRA, with the help of the NSSF, also, has killed an actual AWB and magazine restrictions on the national level several times in the past few years alone. I, or our lobbyists, have seen it. No one else was even considered part of the conversation, regardless of posturing. We also wouldn’t have FOPA, and if anyone wants to complain about Hughes, which I hate as much as anyone, if you were currently living under GCA ’68, and had the chance to get the FOPA protections, but someone slipped in the Hughes amendment at the last minute to try to poison the bill, you’d still support passing it.

The NRA didn’t give you GCA ’68. They tried to minimize damage in another time when overwhelming support for even worse gun control existed after Kennedy and King were assassinated. NFA originally included handguns, also, and was in a similar period of hysteria about mob violence. Without the NRA and also the NSSF, we wouldn’t have had the Lawful Commerce in Arms act of 2005, and the entire firearms industry in the US would be out of business by now—sued into bankruptcy just by fending off lawsuits from Bloomberg lawyers.

There are a lot of wins there, but make no mistake…I want more, too. However…please understand that even with the R majority we had for the last two years… soft Rs like Flake, Rubio, and the other purple district congressmen and senators had us in a bad spot even then. Repealing the NFA, as much as I want that to die, has about 5% support in Congress right now. You’re not getting that legislatively unless you change out 95% of Congress, no matter how hard we could push for it, or how many “strong statements” anyone makes.

We are, in reality, barely hanging on to a slim majority of elected officials at the national level that even believes the 2A is an individual right!

The only path to right this course, especially with states like CA, CO, NJ, MA, NY, WA, etc., is through judicial review. And… love Trump or hate him, regardless of anything else he has done, if it were Hillary putting 2, possibly 3 judges on the USSC bench, the 2A would be dead in 10 years. That’s why NRA went all in with him. Not because he was a philosophically pure candidate on all of 2A, but because he was willing to put pro 2A judges on the bench, and because he could win. No one else on our side could, and the alternative—a Hillary presidency—would be disastrous.

. . .

I’ve seen too much NRA bashing lately by those who don’t know what’s even going on in DC. It’s a mess. I hate going there. But, the NRA is actually our best advocate there, regardless of what you think about some of the publicly stated positions. Making a press release that says, “We support repealing the NFA and doing away with the 4473 and all other remnants of GCA ’68,” doesn’t actually accomplish anything if you can’t produce results. It actually damages the ability to explain the real downsides of the issues that are at hand, with support, that need to be killed, because you won’t even get to talk to the people on the fence to make your case. Dems tend to ask for “common sense gun reform”, which we know means disarm America. Consider looking at NRA public statements through the same lens, in reverse. Maneuvering the swamp requires talking in less than absolute terms, even when behind the scenes, your goal is absolute.

There’s more at the link.  Recommended reading, even if (as I do) you don’t like the NRA.

I remain angry at the NRA for taking its members for granted, for appearing to be focusing far more on fund-raising and funding the lifestyle of its own executives rather than dealing with issues more important to its members, and other causes.  I’m still unlikely to take out an individual membership, much less a life membership;  but that’s me, and I may well be wrong.  I think Mr. Liptak’s perspective deserves attention, and perhaps the support of those less annoyed than I am.  I leave it up to my readers to make their own choice.



  1. Regarding the NRA, I regard it as an example of the "tough steak" syndrome: it's just good enough that one wishs it were better.

    My last biannual membership expired 3 years ago, and I haven't yet renewed it. That, despite the periodic and breathless letters reminding me that "there's still time if you act now!"

  2. Something about the NRA working to pass the 1934 NFA, The 1968 GCA, the 1986 FOPA, and the support of the 'bumpstock ban. All that kind of puts a wet blanket on the 'second amendment support group' that they try to pander to their members and the public.

  3. I renew my membership every five years at the cheap rate.
    They do good work in the area of firearms training and instructor certification.
    Their Eddie Eagle program is top notch and should be mandatory in every public school.
    But I ignore all of their begging letters, and they've pretty much given up ever calling me by phone again after my rant about respecting my national do not call registration.
    If I'm of a mind to donate I do so with GOA or my local Bama Carry group, not the money grubbers at the NRA.

  4. The gun control war has changed materially, with Bloomberg leading the attacks in individual states. How they got their major victories in the last few years was by targeting states instead of the Federal level. There's a variety of reasons for this, but it partly comes down to the election after the AWB of '94 and the Evil party getting their clock cleaned. They decided it wasn't a winning issue on the national level. Even now, I'm of the opinion that the only reason they're introducing a host of bills is for fund raising.

    That argues that what we need, since we don't have a freedom-loving billionaire who can counter Bloomberg's spending, is state by state campaigns in addition to the national presence. I'd say no state is safe. Here in Florida, we've had three years in a row where so-called "A-rated" Stupid party (R) politicians have sold us out.

    As for the junk mail, I was a member of the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) and they far exceeded the volume of mail from the NRA. Virtually anything from the NRA automatically goes into the recycling bin, although I have to confess I enter some of their "win eleventy-seven guns" contests.

  5. As far as I am concerned, the NRA sold us out with their support for a bump stock ban. That opened the door for more restrictive gun control laws. The top of the NRA is bloated with highly paid people who seem more interested in their position than ours. Wayne needs to go. I am supporting GOA and OFF as I am retired and have very limited income to spare. I, too, was disgusted with the endless phone calls and mail begging for money, which I finally stopped after calling them directly to knock it off. All that money spent begging should be deducted from high salary administration creatures.

  6. Been around weapons since before I was born and all the way up to today. My dad and his dad and his dad were the same way. None of us joined the NRA and I suspect it had to do with their loathing of FDR and his NRA of 1935. The label stuck. The Blue Eagle NRA.
    Me? I just didn't care to fund an organization to lobby Congress at my expense to support something I owned and couldn't be taken away without a change to the Constitution. It looks like I pretty much read them right since they never stirred themselves one particle in that direction. They look like the AM Red Cross which, like UNESCO spends about 90% of their revenues on overhead and admin expenses.

  7. The NRA is good for one thing in this fight – lobbying Congress. They don't even try to work in the courts, because they're terrified of losing and setting a bad precedent.

    Their other good works include safety and marksmanship training. Their youth outreach program is laughable. Why the NRA isn't actively involved in airsoft, paintball, and Nerf competitions is completely beyond me. There is a growing international market in precision, high powered (relatively) air rifles. Where is the NRA presence?

    When an NRA membership will get me 5% off at AirsoftGI or Pyramid Air, then I will consider them to be serious.

    1. Actually that sounds like a good idea. So how about we spearhead the effort? Somebody needs to head it up. If we join we could be unopposed.

  8. What other people said. And their listing of local and state politicians is laughable. Just look at all the A+ rating politicos who curb-stomped our gun rights in Florida after Parkland, where the State Constitution has it's own version of the 2nd Amendment. Rod Scott, the only reason I voted for you as Senator is because Bill Nelson should have been shark chum 20 years ago, you feckless idiot and pandering poultroon.

    Yes, the NRA does a lot of national lobbying stuff, that's nice. Now, draw a friggin line in the sand and say 'Enough' and 'We want our rights back' and push for it. There are enough rich NRA members that as a consortium, the organization could out-spend and out-voice the Bloombergs of the world.

    But, well, that's the problem. Conservatives only react to smash and fix a specific problem, then go back to their daily lives. Cons don't turn causes into a live mission like leftists do. So we react and smash and fix this hole, that hole, the other hole, when we should be replacing the whole damned structure.

    Hey, NRA. Act as the rallying and focal center for all 2A rights, and for once mean it you cheating, waffling bastiges, and you'll see more money than Soros pouring into your coffers.

  9. Rampant disrespect for its members by treating them as if they were a cash cow.

    The only organization I've found that is worse in this respect is AARP. They'll start offering memberships at age 50, and continue to market to you long after you've let that membership lapse in disgust. To add insult to injury, the only lobbying they do is for causes I oppose, such as increasing Medicaid and "protecting" Social Security.

  10. Seems Liptak was less than accurate in his portrayal of the NRA's history. Read the comments at that article, and also at:

    Apparently, the NRA has been orchestrating a bunch of these "letters" to the public.

    At some point, I'm planning on termination of my Lifetime Membership. I've been very disappointed with them since not long after I joined, back in the early AWB days. Learning about their history over the years has not endeared them to me. They are in it for the money, period. They either change, or die. F'em.

  11. The NRA is just one tool in the toolchest. They draw a lot of the heat from anti-2A groups. Which I think helps shield some of the other smaller pro-2A groups. Perfect? No. But join more than one group, support more than one group. They fill a gap in the line, even if they don't cover the entire line and both flanks.

  12. If you can stand to have it I will cheerfully give you your very own lifetime NRA membership – limited time offer so do please accept promptly if at all – so that as the saying goes you can be inside the tent watering the outside and so that you can vote and campaign for change from the inside. IMHO the cause is too important to settle for being an "aginner" and nothing more. Disappointment is inevitable; washing one's hands of it should not be the inevitable end.

    As Winston S. Churchill said in a different context the NRA can be described as the worst of all gun rights organizations – except for all the others. I was at Cincinnati where the membership took control and I was at Seattle when the bureaucracy took it back. I'm a member of my home range, a member one county over, State association and Gun Owners of America to go with NRA Benefactor status. Sadly Dr. Pournelle is no longer with us but his iron law of bureaucracy remains. To expect otherwise from any organization no matter how inspired in origin (see your own writings on a Church or otherwise) is to expect what never was and never will be.

  13. Having been in a position of negotiating (Labor Union – the labor side) I can understand what the NRA is doing and how they are going about achieving goals. One has to keep in mind that negotiations means compromise. There is no such thing as an absolute in negotiations – that only comes at the end of a gun which means we are way beyond negotiating.

    Since we are not yet looking at the end of guns, the best the the NRA can do is piss-off everyone equally. That means they are doing a great job for our side. Another step in negotiations is to set the foundation for the next round of negotiations which means the NRA has to create a situation where the opposition discovers they need the NRA's help to solve a problem the NRA tried to fix for the opposition earlier, but the opposition refused to accept the proposed solution. I have no idea why the NRA rolled over for the "Bump Stocks" but I will venture a guess that the bump stock ban was waaay less important than the other issues they were focusing on. Besides how easy is it going to be to make your own bump stock or any other item once the anti-gunners decide we are all felons and Home Depot sells everything you need to make what you want. Once the anit-gun folks realize Home Depot or any other hardware store can supply all we need to make our own stuff they will ask the NRA for help – which will have a very hefty price from a negotiating standpoint.

    What really needs to happen, regardless how you feel about any pro-2nd amendment organization, is help increase the size of the membership. Pay the minimal dues, then make your voice heard, recruit more members. The only way we will keep everything we hold dear is to have the sheer numbers overwhelm the anti-gun side. I am fortunate that I can keep my memberships current with the NRA (Life x2 with my spouse) SAF USCCA. Yes it costs, but never forget that the only thing that ensures we retain the 1st amendment is the 2nd. Look at France and what's happening in Canada… and its all happening here right now.

    And… remember… any good agreement is still going to be a POS but if everyone is equally pissed off you can't do any better.

  14. Email sent. I can be reached as clarkemyers@ the same google related domain as well as others with higher priority such as the name with middle initial at the name with middle initial and a full stop com suffix. Hope you'll take it.

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