Saturday, January 31, 2015

The NRA Makes the Same Mistake The Rest of Us Are Making

This months' American Rifleman features this cover:
I agree with assessment that we're entering an extremely dangerous period in the world;  some of it I've written about quite recently, and some of it is the result of Obama and his daemons.  I don't, however, agree with the NRA's approach.  Their emphasis is gun control; primarily fundraising to oppose gun control.  (Full disclosure: I'm a life member.  It was deeply on sale or I wouldn't have done it).

The NRA is the 800 pound gorilla in the gun rights fight, but I've seen them described as "pilloried by both their friends and enemies".  The knock on them (not that I need to tell you) is that they play the DC insider game and don't really care about a knockout punch to win the fight for our rights; they just want to keep the gravy train going - like every other lobby going.

While they're the largest of the gun owner groups, they're still only a few million members out of a country of around 300 million.  The exact number seems harder to find than it should, but is on the order of 5 to 10 million people.  Anti-gun groups routinely try to say it's less than that, but it's still not 5% of the population.  In a nation where people routinely say there's 300 million guns, that strikes me as a small percentage of gun owners.  My guess is there's at least 30 million gun owners.  While it's conceivable that if they had 30 million members they would have more political impact, I don't think political lobbying is the way to go.

I think the fight is the broader cultural war; independence and self-reliance vs. reliance on the omnipotent state.  The answer is to make gun ownership more mainstream and accepted.  We need to help show everyone that gun ownership is not the thug culture depicted on TV and in the movies.  One of the strongest signs that progress is being made is that Gallup poll released in November showing that 63% of respondents said that having a gun in the house makes it a safer place.  By a 2/3 to 1/3 margin, they rejected the gun control default position that there should be no guns anywhere.
The percentage of Americans who believe having a gun in the house makes it a safer place to be (63%) has nearly doubled since 2000, when about one in three agreed with this. Three in 10 Americans say having a gun in the house makes it a more dangerous place.
Self-adoring elitists and Ivy League types (yeah, I repeat myself) are always attacking the intelligence of the average American, but average Americans seem to have good common sense.  Maybe they can't build a bridge or design an interstate, but they seem to have a good handle on the fact that "the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun", a pretty common sense idea. As concealed carry and "gun culture 2.0" continues to grow, more and more people are going to find that they know someone who carries.  The more people who think, "I know Susie has a gun, and she's not a violent nut job", the more likely they are to at least not consider gun control as the standard way to be or to not consider gun control as the immediate response to some insane, mass shooter. 

If they're good at anything, the Alinsky-ites are good at controlling the messages.  In the 1990s, the average 20-something didn't think about gay marriage, today it's difficult to find a 20-something who isn't in favor of it.  Two can play that game.  90 Miles links to a post on Gun Watch about mass shootings stopped by an armed citizen.  There are positive stories about defensive gun use every day; information that reinforces the positive aspects of gun ownership.  Raising that number from 63% to 80% seems daunting, and will mean fighting a propaganda war against propagandists, but it's such a common sense position, it has to sink in.

Helping people see gun control as counterproductive will buy you more in the long run than just sending more money to the DC hog trough. 


  1. I joined on the discount as well precisely because they are the big gorilla. NSSF, although far from perfect, does better in the culture war than the NRA. I joined them as well.

    Here's what I've learned from both. The NRA is a pain in the you know what, constantly nagging me via mail, phone and email to ask me for money. NSSF sends a ton of tips, videos and information on nearly every aspect of firearms safety and handling. You want to start a firearms related business? They give out insane amounts of information to help. Only money they have asked for was the shipping on some great instructional materials.

    They are different orgs to be sure, but there more positive focus of expanding the shooting culture of the NSSF is what will win the fence sitters. Not the frowning LP or the nutty ramblings of a former rock star.

  2. Thanks, Kevin. You know, I never even thought of the NSSF as a place to join. I guess I just assumed it was for businesses only.

    They do good stuff. I need to go check them out.

  3. They are aimed at businesses, but one can join if they are doing research to open up one. It was my wife who said that she liked their message over the ERA's and said we should join them as well at least one year.

    Since joining, it has occurred to me that businesses are the civilian logistics chain and having a strong business environment is another important part of the culture war.

  4. ERA should be NRA. Stupid autocorrect.

  5. Good point GB!
    I, too, am a NRA Life Member. Had to pay it off in drips and drabs over a couple years.
    I don't always agree with their choices (like endorsing anti politicians)but I do like their clout.
    It's sad they've adopted the same techniques as most charities - "We just need a bit more from you, to solve the problem."
    There is always another problem.


  6. gfa - absolutely.

    Being in the NRA is kind of like a self-eating watermelon. People join the NRA because politicians listen to the NRA, and politicians listen to the NRA because people join the NRA. If that whole thing moved over to the GOA or NSSF or someone else, DC would listen to them, but that just doesn't seem to happen. What we need to do is move the NRA in the desired direction. (Good luck with that, too!)

    My wife and I have the running joke that at our ages, any membership could be a lifetime membership. The NRA will pay off if I live another 9 years. :-D

  7. Controlling the message is certainly something at which those of us in favor of gun rights need to improve. I see this as especially true in light of the number of times I've been told, exclusively by those who are left of center, that truth isn't related to objective data, but to the "encounter between the reader/hearer and the narrative." This is why, I believe, so many find it acceptable to assert as fact things that are manifestly untrue. To them, the truth is the conclusion to which they lead others. The words they use, even when untrue, are acceptable, even true, because they point to the greater "truth" of their position. Welcome to postmodern thought.

  8. I've joined the NRA 3 times I think. And every time I get so disgusted with the constant mail begging for money that I let it lapse. If they used the money they spend on letters for safety programs or hunting programs or just about anything else...I'd reconsider joining. But as it is Graybeard has hit the nail right on the head: they've become a lobbyist organization that just wants to keep the cash flowing so they can enjoy their high priced lunches and dinners in DC. BLECH!

  9. I'm about to let my 5 year NRA membership lapse. Guns and Ammo has more of the stuff I'm interested in and less hair on fire fundraising bs.