Monday, April 03, 2006

Thoughts on the NRA

Denise at the Ten Ring got me to thinking the other day.

...every time I blog about the National Rifle Association and mention that I’m a Life Member, I get comments on how NRA compromises too much, how they support “existing” gun laws, and other issues. I’m going to head off the comments by admitting that NRA has problems. What organization doesn’t?
I support NRA because I believe that without the organization, even with its missteps, we would be virtually stripped of our gun rights today. At the same time, I know we’ve lost much especially compared to my grandfather’s time.
Sometimes NRA representatives and lobbyists even backed certain laws that even ended up taking away our liberties. The passage of the NRA-backed Firearms Protection Act (FOPA) is a case in point. It included the last minute Hughes Amendment which makes it impossible for financially average gun owners to afford a fully automatic collector’s piece no matter how good a citizen he or she is.
But, I know that politics is the art of compromise...

Good points, all, especially that last one. And I also agree that without the NRA, we would indeed be stripped of our gun rights. Still, though, I wonder. I've seen estimates that the number of armed people in the United States stands at about 50 million. The NRA membership stands at about 4 million. Granted, 4 million is a good contingent of folks, especially when you compare it to the membership in the Organization Formerly Known as Handgun Control -- about 50,000, again, these are just estimates. But, the difference in members of the respective movements does show when you look at these numbers, from

Contributions to Political Campaigns from Anti-Gunners, 1990-2006 (source):

Contributions to Political Campaigns from Pro-Gunners, 1990-2006 (source)

Over 10 times as much money went to pro-gun candidates as anti-gun candidates. So our side has the advantages as far as the contributions go. BUT! How much more could it be, if more of those 50 million gun owners were members of the NRA -- specifically, the ones who think, as at least some people do, that the NRA is made up of "a bunch of compromising weasels"? How many more of those 50 million gun owners could the NRA get if they went more towards the no-compromise stance of groups such as the Gun Owners of America? It's a question worth pondering. Perhaps they might lose some members, but that might well be more than offset by the people who would join -- and donate -- if the NRA swung towards that no-compromise stance. I am a member of the NRA, and I get America's 1st Freedom, one of the four member publications the NRA offers, every month. I recall in a recent issue, one of the authors was lamenting the membership's declining donation to the political action fund and citing it as evidence that the membership was getting, shall we say, a little apathetic. But I thought later, how much of those declining contributions are due to member dissatisfaction with the NRA's compromises? How much of the money that would be going to the NRA is now going to groups like the Gun Owners of America? I am not lamenting that, by any means, but it really would behoove the membership of the NRA to put its feet to the fire (and yes, I am guilty as charged) and see if we could get more of the no-compromise gunnies to donate. I think it might pay off, so to speak, in the long run -- and we (the NRA) would be that much closer to being as powerful as the anti-gun pansies in the press and on the left try to convince everyone else that we are.