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.