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How to Improve the NRA

I’m going to start an open thread here on the topic of how to improve the National Rifle Association. People from NRA read this blog, so there’s a good chance your suggestions will be seen by people who can influence the direction of the organization. It’s your chance to give feedback. If I think your suggestion is particularly good, I’ll post it front and center as an update.

I’m going to ask that people offer serious suggestions, and not just engage in NRA bashing. Feel free to comment on other people’s suggestions, but let’s try to limit the topic to improving NRA.

Go!

Highlighted suggestions are below the cut.

UPDATE: Clayton Cramer:

More usefully: I think NRA is too focused on winning this election, and not enough on the long-term strategy of persuading the intelligentsia. At one time, one of NRA’s political arms (maybe ILA, maybe Civil Rights) funded Academics for the Second Amendment, run by Professor Joe Olson. They did, I thought, a lot of useful work. But they seem to have stopped the funding–and my, does that make a difference!

I try not to sound petty, but I was somewhat hoping that NRA would make a real effort to promote my new book Armed America. There was a small announcement in their magazines, but my efforts to get the magazines to run an excerpt from the book were for naught. Maybe I’m not being very objective, but this is exactly the kind of book we want people in the middle to read.

Very good suggestion, and not petty, in my opinion. I would agree it’s a book that ought to be promoted in the gun right community.

UPDATE: Thirdpower:

Besides making the board members a bit more accountable for their actions, I would like to see the NRA put more funding into the state holdouts (CA, NY, NJ, IL, MD). I understand that the federal battles are important and that the pro states are excellent places for “test bedding” laws like CCW, Castle Doctrine, No Confiscation, etc. but the left out to dry feeling is felt in the anti states organization.

Board members are absolutely accountable, because they are elected. I will agree that it’s a bad idea to write off states. I’m not sure the NRA really does, but it’s very hard to accomplish anything in states like New Jersey or Illinois. ISRA, which is the NRA state organization for IL, does a pretty good job. But I agree we need to fight as hard in anti-gun states as we do in pro-gun states.

UPDATE: Pro-Gun Progressive:

Fighting the notion that the NRA is an organization for hunters and flyover country redstaters only comes to mind…

Hunters are important, but I also agree that NRA needs to do more to reach out to urban and suburban dwellers. Part of this involves not making releases that target other right-wing causes which have nothing to do with the second amendment.

UPDATE: Jacob:

If you want to improve the NRA the solution is simple: members have to actually tell them what is going on in their state. Members have to keep an eye on their state and local legislators plus the news media and report to ILA. Far too many people just assume NRA knows all and sees all. They don’t.

I couldn’t agree more. NRA needs dedicated people on the ground to be successful. We are the NRA. That’s more than just a slogan.

UPDATE: Justin Buist:

Establish a better web presence. The homepage for nra.com starts a video up immediately. It’s too graphic laden and sites that like scream out like they’re trying to brain wash you with disinformation. Basically, if your site looks anything like inforwars.com (and I actually do like Alex Jone) you need to rework it. Keep it clean.

You guys at NRA listening? As a computer professional, I can tell you that this is spot on. NRA news is great, having a link to it is great, but never ever ever have your web site make a peep that the user didn’t ask for. He also suggests this:

Send out more surveys and publish the data. On this topic make the surveys about actual GUN legislation. The latest survey I got asked about Hillary Clinton’s “Count Every Vote” bill but boiled it all down to: “Do you want felons voting and thus negating the voting rights of lawful gun owners?” I looked up the bill, thought about it, and I had to vote “No Opinion” because it’s much more complex than that.

NRA does do tag polls, but some serious scientific polling of member views could be useful.

UPDATE: Ahab has some thoughts here suggesting they ought to do more for educational purposes:

The real “improvement” I’d like to see would be for the NRA to plant “shooting education centers” in major cities around the country.  It would be one part classroom, one part range; and could offer shooter education classes, new shooter orientation, etc.  I would really like to see a concerted effort made by the NRA to educate people that aren’t on our side – that would be the biggest change of all.

The problem with this is, it would be phenomenally expensive to run these operations.   I think the NRA does a lot for education already, as they should.   I will agree that more would be good, if it is affordable.   Personally, I think everyone being familiar with how to operate a firearm safely and with reasonable effect is such a public good, the government really ought to be doing that.  The militia has fallen into disrepair, and it’s high time we fixed that.

60 Responses to “How to Improve the NRA”

  1. GeorgeH says:

    There are no good gun laws. There are no constitutional gun laws.

    There is your mission statement. As simple and absolute as that of the ACLU on hte other 9 parts of the Bill of Rights.

  2. Gary Anthony says:

    The NRA is a membership driven organization. As such, it should listen to it’s membership and become more proactive rather than reactive. The NRA needs to become “The No Compromise Gun Lobby” by martialing all of its resources against ANY new gun laws, and working tirelessly to repeal ALL gun laws. The NRA also must pursue the “Castle Doctrine” in ALL states, as well as concealed carry and concealed carry reciprocity by ALL states. As succintly stated by GeorgeH above, “There are no good gun laws. There are no constitutional gun laws.”

  3. There are no good gun laws. There are no constitutional gun laws.

    There is your mission statement. As simple and absolute as that of the ACLU on hte other 9 parts of the Bill of Rights.

    The problem with this is two-fold:

    1. Bad history. There were a number of “gun control laws” (in quotes for a reason) that were present in 1791, or had been present without objection during the Revolution, and were considered completely unobjectionable. A number of states and cities had laws limiting the amount of gunpowder that you could store in a home or business in a city. This was a fire safety question. We have similar laws (right down to the number of pounds of black powder allowed in a residential area) today.

    People that were disloyal to the government were regularly disarmed during the Revolution, and lost a number of other rights (the right to sue, to vote, to hold public office) as well. The modern equivalent is the “have you ever renounced your citizenship?” question on the 4473 form.

    2. Bad politics. The ACLU gets a lot of negative reaction from many Americans because of their simple, absolute, and ahistorical view of the rest of the Bill of Rights. Let’s not make that mistake.

    More usefully: I think NRA is too focused on winning this election, and not enough on the long-term strategy of persuading the intelligentsia. At one time, one of NRA’s political arms (maybe ILA, maybe Civil Rights) funded Academics for the Second Amendment, run by Professor Joe Olson. They did, I thought, a lot of useful work. But they seem to have stopped the funding–and my, does that make a difference!

    I try not to sound petty, but I was somewhat hoping that NRA would make a real effort to promote my new book Armed America. There was a small announcement in their magazines, but my efforts to get the magazines to run an excerpt from the book were for nought. Maybe I’m not being very objective, but this is exactly the kind of book we want people in the middle to read.

  4. I would largely agree that making a targeted effort at the persuading the non-shooting middle American should be a real focus, as should making intellectual arguments instead of emotional ones. Fighting the notion that the NRA is an organization for hunters and flyover country redstaters only comes to mind…

  5. thirdpower says:

    Besides making the board members a bit more accountable for their actions, I would like to see the NRA put more funding into the state holdouts (CA, NY, NJ, IL, MD). I understand that the federal battles are important and that the pro states are excellent places for “test bedding” laws like CCW, Castle Doctrine, No Confiscation, etc. but the left out to dry feeling is felt in the anti states organization.

  6. What TP said…damn! Can’t believe I didn’t think of that…god knows I gripe enough around here about how little the NRA does.

    Jenn Clayton, our NRA lobbyist, quit…and wasn’t even replaced. The NRA handles MD from DE or something crazy like that…and frankly she sucked anyway.

  7. Jacob says:

    Gary, you simply do not know what you are talking about. There is absolutely no way NRA can storm into the legislature and demand repeal of all gun laws. They would be laughed out of *all* 50 state legislatures plus Congress. Have you actually done any lobbying? Do you have any real world experience with your state legislature? There is a reason GOA isn’t taken very seriously. Their “no compromise” stance is little more than a slogan used for fundraising. Their organization could disappear tomorrow and it wouldn’t matter one bit to gun rights in this country.

    If you want to improve the NRA the solution is simple: members have to actually tell them what is going on in their state. Members have to keep an eye on their state and local legislators plus the news media and report to ILA. Far too many people just assume NRA knows all and sees all. They don’t.

  8. Sebastian says:

    Gary, you simply do not know what you are talking about. There is absolutely no way NRA can storm into the legislature and demand repeal of all gun laws. They would be laughed out of *all* 50 state legislatures plus Congress.

    Jacob is spot on here. Politicians won’t talk to people who just stomp their feet and refuse to come in to negotiate. Compromise is part of the political game, which is why our founding fathers chose to put certain rights outside the reach of politics. It’s a shame our supreme court has, so far, not stepped up to make our government live up to that promise.

    There is a reason GOA isn’t taken very seriously. Their “no compromise” stance is little more than a slogan used for fundraising. Their organization could disappear tomorrow and it wouldn’t matter one bit to gun rights in this country.

    This is, unfortunately, also correct.

  9. Sebastian says:

    It amazes me how many gun owners suggest that NRA ought to be more like the ACLU. The ACLU has been successful largely because the left had a very effective strategy for tilting the federal courts in their favor. If ACLU had to compete in the legislative arena, as NRA does, they’d be toast.

  10. Justin Buist says:

    1) Establish a better web presence. The homepage for nra.com starts a video up immediately. It’s too graphic laden and sites that like scream out like they’re trying to brain wash you with disinformation. Basically, if your site looks anything like inforwars.com (and I actually do like Alex Jone) you need to rework it. Keep it clean.

    2) Give the ILA branch funding for television. Run some Eddie the Eagle type spots on cheap cable television. Let the masses know that gun safety is the #1 goal of the NRA. If you’re not sure where to get the money for that see #3.

    3) Stop sending me stuff. Seriously, this is the digital age. You want money? Email me — it’s cheaper. It’s also far easier for me to hit a PayPal link for $10 than it is to write up a check.

    4) Drop the NRA Wine-of-the-month club. We don’t need to further the stereotype that we’re all a bunch of drunk rednecks.

    5) Send out more surveys and publish the data. On this topic make the surveys about actual GUN legislation. The latest survey I got asked about Hillary Clinton’s “Count Every Vote” bill but boiled it all down to: “Do you want felons voting and thus negating the voting rights of lawful gun owners?” I looked up the bill, thought about it, and I had to vote “No Opinion” because it’s much more complex than that.

    6) Stop endorsing only one candidate per election. While the NRA does occasionally back a Democrat here and there it’s only when the Democrat is sure to win and both candidates are quite pro-gun. If the Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, and Constitutional Party candidates all pass muster then endorse them all. Conversely, you could just start calling out negative endorsements and run an “anybody-but-THAT-guy” campaign when needed. The NRA is seen as a branch of the Republican party by many and every effort should be taken to dispel that notion.

    That’s all I can think of off the top of my head.

  11. Sebastian says:

    Justin… comment 1 is spot on. I put it on an update.

    2. Is very expensive. NRA has done that before, though, actually.

    3. I agree with you there, but they do it because it brings in money. If they didn’t mail people constantly, they’d run low on funds. Not everyone is all that dedicated to the cause, and some people need to be badgered.

    4. I wasn’t even aware of this program. Wine usually appeals to the upscale, so I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily a bad thing. Everyone drinks. If it was “jug of white lightning of the month” I’d agree with you :)

    5. Good one, I’ll put that on the update too.

    6. The endorsement/grading system is a political tool. If you endorse more than one candidate, even if they are both very good on your issue, you lose the power of that tool. The endorsement system isn’t only a voting guide for members, it’s a way to get politicians to support you as well.

  12. The only redneck who drinks wine that I know of is me. :)

  13. Alcibiades says:

    Mailings are probably still necessary because while some of their older members may use computers sometimes, they are not internet addicts like the rest of us.

    I know the RKBA is weak in certain states, but my “urban New Jersey college” actually has/had a shooting club, albeit very small and apparently student run (I didn’t even find out about it until it was too late to participate). The NRA is involved in collegiate shooting competition, but it would be useful to reach out to these more informal groups in order to influence a large number of college-aged people and introduce them to firearms.

    Heck, I even had a professor who used to own a $4,000 collection of handguns. As a bonus, he wasn’t even born in the U.S.

    (I swear to god the NRA website used to look better a few years ago. It used a more conventional layout.)

  14. Sebastian says:

    This is one thing I don’t get Alciabiades: there are shooters in New Jersey. I know there are because I see all the Jersey tags at my club. How is it that shooters in New Jersey consistently keep losing?

  15. Nathaniel says:

    They might consider not sending me a renewal notice a full 6 months before my membership ends. Or they might consider offering several years membership at a time at a discount (though that would depend on how many people are on the life membership track). Paper mailings have to cost a ton.

    More seriously, they need to pay attention to the up and coming generation. They’re hanging us college students out to dry with the campus carry garbage, but that’s admittedly not likely to be a huge issue for them. Young people get mistreated by government and organizations all the time (paying income tax before you can vote? hello, taxation without representation), mostly because they don’t have money, don’t have a voice, and are too busy going to frats and hooking up to give a crap about the world around them. So most of us are used to that and don’t care that much.

    The bigger problem will be if this generation doesn’t see the NRA as both an advocacy and education organization. Six months ago (before I started paying attention to gun rights) I had no clue that the NRA did anything related to firearms education, and that’s not a healthy image. If young people see the NRA like they see the ACLU (just the crazy headlines and vague notions of lobbyists), there isn’t going to be much grassroots support left.

  16. Clint says:

    Sebastian said in response to Justin: “Wine usually appeals to the upscale, so I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily a bad thing. Everyone drinks.”

    No, not everyone. I am inclined to agree with Justin on that one. Here in the South, the temperence movement still echoes and firearms are deeply ingrained in our culture. Hunters are encouraged in the Hunter Safety programs here in Virginia to refrain from being seen with alcohol while dressed in gear. It reinforces a stereotype that gives the anti-hunters more fuel. It’s not a law, just a strong recommendation right up there with not littering on a land owner’s property.

    That is not to say that people in the South do not drink, by any means. However, the Bible Belt culture with its stong Southern Baptist population is more likely to see alcohol as a negative vice than a positive virtue. It has nothing to do with firearms and even less to do with safety. Hey, Virginia even still has that stupid “can’t carry concealed” in a bar law!

  17. Noops says:

    “Their “no compromise” stance is little more than a slogan used for fundraising. Their organization could disappear tomorrow and it wouldn’t matter one bit to gun rights in this country.”

    And “Jacob is spot on here. Politicians won’t talk to people who just stomp their feet and refuse to come in to negotiate.”

    Jacob isn’t spot on here. You don’t compromise on rights. More importantly though, pushing and pushing hard can work.

    I can name at least one state (Oregon), where no compromise has worked beautifully. Oregon Firearms Federation (oregonfirearms.org) has, “No Compromise” as they’re motto, and Kevin Starrett (Director) has been one of the most successful grassroots lobbyists I’ve ever seen. We actually made significant progress this last session despite anti’s in control of both chambers and the governership. He has gotten all sorts of bad things killed, and good things passed. It works if you have a real operation with people behind you, grassroots campaigns with lots of people from both sides (Dems and Reps).

    Now it might not work in Massachussets, where a Democrat is a little different than in Oregon. But swing states have tons of power here. Places like Oregon and Indiana can kill this issue both at the state and federal level. Make the Dems scared of loosing federal control in places like Indy, West Virginia, Oregon, and this fight is winnable. You don’t need all the Dems, and you won’t get them. But you need the ones that count like us here in Oregon. THEY make the difference.

    P.s. Our Oregon Democratic party has an officially recognized Gun Owners Caucus, and the Democratic Party of Oregon passed a party resolution to support the Second Amendment. Us Democratic rednecks are still out there, and we can swing thins heavily.

  18. Sebastian says:

    Good comment Nathaniel. As a general rule, most young people are either very naive or disinterested entirely in politics. It’s a large part of why young people have no political power.

    The campus carry issue is a touchy one, because it’s too easy for the other side to mis-characterize. Suggest that you think CCW restrictions on campus ought to be lifted, and suddenly you want to pass out guns at the entrances to drunken frat parties. Then suddenly college kids become irresponsible, rowdy drunken, drug using date rapers. When the issue is “school” and “guns” it’s a tough issue to win on either in the public eye or in the eyes of politicians. We have a lot of work to do on this issue in terms of public perceptions, and I’m not sure we’ll ever win.

  19. Sebastian says:

    However, the Bible Belt culture with its stong Southern Baptist population is more likely to see alcohol as a negative vice than a positive virtue. It has nothing to do with firearms and even less to do with safety. Hey, Virginia even still has that stupid “can’t carry concealed” in a bar law!

    I see what you mean, but I think that would fall under the “keep other right wing issues out of RKBA” issue. The NRA needs to be a big tent to win, and more urban and suburban people would tend to see a “wine of the month” thing from NRA has being their kind of stodgy :)

  20. Sebastian says:

    You can afford to make fewer compromises when you have very strong grass roots behind you. Politicians only really care about one thing: can you threaten their seat. If the answer is yes, they will pay more attention to you. I don’t know the situation in Oregon, so I can’t speak to it intelligently.

    But eventually, if your opposition gets stronger, or you get weaker, you’ll be forced into situation where you are forced to choose between a really bad bill passing, or a somewhat bad bill passing.

    If every person who owned a gun in this country were joined together and united, we could march into Washington and dictate terms to the politicians, but in most cases we can’t do that, so we’re stuck with the deal making nature of politics.

  21. Sebastian says:

    Though I see OFF is spreading the same load of hooey that GOA has been pitching about HR2640 being a total sellout. That automatically raises my skepticism of the group. Many people think NRA is selling gun owners a load of goods, and say to join GOA, without realizing the GOA is selling a load of goods as well.

  22. vinnie says:

    Ok, late night rambling after a couple of glasses of anti spellcheck so feel free to edit all the way to the point of destruction if need be.

    Compromise does not mean if they want to rape me and I don’t want them too they will only stick it in a little. We have had that kind of compromise for 73 years. When will compromise get us something back?
    We won’t get it all back at once. Right or wrong, ain’t gunna happen. We didn’t lose them all at once either BTW. With 20 some thousand gun laws we have an Elephant to eat to kill them all. We have to do it one bite at a time. But we can do it.

  23. Jacob says:

    “No compromise” most certainly does not work in Oregon. I’m not familiar with your laws but I do know you require a license to carry concealed. You had to compromise with that when you couldn’t get unrestricted carry through the legislature.

    I also know the libertarians can’t get anyone elected to office higher than East Bumblefuck Town Councilman so don’t tell me OFF isn’t compromising on the candidates they endorse as well.

    OFF may do a respectable job in Oregon but their “no compromise” slogan is just a hook to get people to join.

  24. Ahab says:

    This is the same as I replied to you on my place –

    Actually, the cost did cross my mind while I was writing that; and I do agree that it would be tremendously expensive. However, it could also be used as a revenue generator to partially offset the cost. While I don’t think it’s a likely change that we’ll see to the NRA, it would certainly improve both the NRA’s ability to “spread the word”, as well as improve the public (non-member) perception of the NRA.

    Of course, you guys all know that education and outreach are my two favorite drums to beat, so it only makes sense that I would want the NRA to focus more on those.

  25. Sebastian says:

    Education and outreach is really one of those “We are the NRA” things. NRA as an organization can provide the structure in which that can happen, but it’s up to us to make it happen. The NRA I think already does a pretty good job with this:

    There are 51,000 certified instructors, 23,000 coaches, and 15,000 training counselors.

    Sadly, this one area I should be doing more, as I’m not counted in these numbers. Bitter is a certified instructor. It’s something I should do as well.

  26. Sebastian says:

    Response to Uncle:

    I agree. The Hughes Amendment is going to be tough, though. Even the Veterans Heritage Firearms Act, which was a minor exemption, couldn’t be passed. The political class doesn’t seem to have too much inclination to even look at the machine gun issue, even in a small way.

    The big problem with going on the offense right now is a Congress controlled by Nancy Pelosi. The Democrats are scares to do things to us, but they aren’t going to go out of their way to do anything for us. To me, the real problem with trying to win at the federal level is the fact that the Republicans are a bunch of worthless shites.

  27. Ahab says:

    I think one of the problems with the education/outreach is that a lot of those firearms instructors etc, aren’t motivated to share their sport.

    That’s where I think the NRA could step in – you get x number of people to sign up and attend a shooting class, and as an instructor you get Item Y or something.

  28. RuffRidr says:

    I think the NRA needs to be more offensive minded. Right now we are always on the defense trying to not get this bill passed or not get this other bill passed. Why aren’t we getting our senators and congressmen to push for pro-gun bills? Where is our national concealed carry bill? How about actively trying to overturn some of the shitty gun laws already on the books? Get the Brady’s on the run.

    That’s my $.02.

  29. Sebastian says:

    I agree, but to some degree how much you can do that is dictated by the political climate. Because the Republican majority in Congress were a bunch of corrupt clowns, people elected a Democratic Congress with anti-gun leaders running the committees. We’re not going to get anything through this Congress.

    Part of the problem is it’s very very hard to get a law repealed. Much harder, in fact, than passing new laws. Even in Congress of 1996 wouldn’t repeal the assault weapons ban, even though they sailed into office largely as a result of dissatisfaction over it.

    I do fear always remaining on the defensive, we’ll eventually lose. There’s really no doubt about that, in fact. But that’s largely dictated by the political climate. The anti-gun groups have free run in the media, so the public never really hears our side of the story, and most gun owners don’t ever really believe they will actually ban guns.

  30. Jacob writes:

    “No compromise” most certainly does not work in Oregon. I’m not familiar with your laws but I do know you require a license to carry concealed.

    And that Oregon is non-discretionary on carry permits is because of a compromise back in 1990. As I pointed out in my April 1, 2007 Shotgun News column:

    A really skilled deal maker gives up something that he doesn’t care too much about in exchange for something that he really wants. For example, in 1961, legislators in Washington State came up with a compromise about concealed handgun licenses. Gun control forces wanted unlicensed concealed carry to be a felony; our side traded that for what was, at the time, an extraordinary law, requiring issuance of a concealed handgun license to anyone who could legally own a handgun, regardless of whether they were a Washington State resident or not. You might not see that as a reasonable exchange, but at the time, this was a pretty astonishing swap.

    Similarly, in 1989, Vera Katz, Speaker of the lower house of the Oregon legislature, wanted a 15 day waiting period on handgun purchases. Pro-gun legislators compromised with her—and Oregon went from a discretionary concealed handgun license to shall issue. In Multnomah County, where Portland is, there were eleven licenses in 1988. Ten years later, there were 11,907.[1] Would you say that was a reasonable compromise?

    1. Patty Wentz, “Packing Heat,” Williamette Weekly, October 20, 1999, http://www.wweek.com/html/leadb102099.html, last accessed February 25, 2007.

    I also agree that NRA needs to be remain focused as much as it can on gun issues. Right now, it includes a surprising number of liberals and even some progressives, as well as large numbers of conservatives and libertarians.

    There are times when you really have to address related non-gun issues–like punishments for violent felonies, and the problem of mental illness and violence–but each time you stray away from the common issue, you are risking losing parts of your coalition of different voices. Each of us individually is free to rant and rave about topics that we care about; NRA needs to be careful to keep on one topic that unites pro-gun people.

  31. RuffRidr writes:

    I think the NRA needs to be more offensive minded. Right now we are always on the defense trying to not get this bill passed or not get this other bill passed. Why aren’t we getting our senators and congressmen to push for pro-gun bills? Where is our national concealed carry bill? How about actively trying to overturn some of the shitty gun laws already on the books? Get the Brady’s on the run.

    I can remember writing For the Defense of Themselves and the State in 1990, and thinking, “We have lost so much in the way of gun rights, and it looks like we’re never going to get them back.” But since then, dozens of states have gone from complete bans on concealed carry to non-discretionary permit issuance; one state went from a complete ban to non-discretionary permit issuance to no permit required; a number of states have added or strengthened their state constitutional RKBA provisions; the 1994 federal assault weapons ban expired.

    Look, if you live in California, or Massachusetts, or Illinois, or New York, this probably looks pretty darn bleak. But in most of America, the RKBA is so strong of a concept that Democrats run from open support of gun control–where they used to embrace it as an sure fire way to mobilize voters.

  32. sevesteen says:

    I’m in my first year of NRA membership. One of my impressions is that the NRA is more concerned with money than firearms rights or image. They’ve asked me to renew my membership months after I joined for the first time. Trying to guilt me into paying for or returning an unsolicited gun DVD. American Rifleman ads wtih the gold-plated Franklin Mint guns in prime positions, the Male Enhancement fraud pills. I know money is needed, but I think the short-term funds aren’t worth the long-term image problems.

    The NRA should be about firearms rights and not specifically conservative. Be willing to approve of any candidate who is better than average on firearms rights. If both candidates are nearly equal, say so. If both are acceptable, but one is better, say that as well. Gun rights are important to me, but not the only issue.

  33. Noops says:

    Jacob:

    ““No compromise” most certainly does not work in Oregon. I’m not familiar with your laws but I do know you require a license to carry concealed. You had to compromise with that when you couldn’t get unrestricted carry through the legislature.”

    Cute little bit of misdirection here. I don’t think OFF didn’t exist when “shall issue” got passed. But that particular “compromise” was a lot like “don’t throw me in the bryar patch.” More to the point, I don’t recall an attempt to get unrestricted carry in Oregon. Do you have info on that?

    As to 2640 and a load of goods, I don’t know much about that issue. What I do know is that they’ve built enough of a fear factor into elections here in Oregon that they don’t compromise much. Like I said, that may not work in Massachusetts, but it will work in places that are swing states.

    But in reality, if you look at some of OFF’s battles, they pick some tough battles and win (and lose sometimes too). Port of Portland, for example, prohibits carry on property even though we have preemption. When the Port of Portland went to ask for expanded policing powers, Starrett and OFF successfully got the bill killed on the premise of, “Why should we expand powers for an agency that is breaking the law.” It’s almost a ridiculous fight to fight, but fight it they did, and win it they did. They’ve gotten lots of anti-gun bills killed like a recent one that would have forced ranges to record serial numbers and names of weapons people at ranges.

    They’ve even fought the university carry issue, although that one is still undecided, as the suit was not decided but dismissed on lack of standing.

    And Jacob, your last sentence doesn’t even make sense: “OFF may do a respectable job in Oregon but their “no compromise” slogan is just a hook to get people to join.”

    So if they do a respectable job in Oregon (their goal), why wouldn’t people support them. On top of which, I don’t think you can actually “join” OFF. You can donate. But even if you don’t, they still help you out (I’ve had lot’s of conversation with Starrett, I’ve never donated, and he’s a responsive, grassroots player here). And you admit you aren’t familiar with our laws, are you familiar with OFF’s successes and failures? They’ve had some good ones on both sides, but they fight the fights that noone else will.

    Noops

  34. Noops says:

    I guess you can join OFF simply by donating, my bad. Still, if they’ve done a respectable job, why not again?

  35. Jacob says:

    I don’t know when OFF was formed. I deal with New York, not Oregon. Even if they weren’t around in the 80s, OFF is clearly compromising now as you still cannot carry concealed without a licensing compromise. OFF is raising money for political candidates and those candidates obviously aren’t jumping up and down to do away with the licensing process because I’ve never once heard that Oregon is going to become the next Vermont-style carry state. “No compromise” once again has failed.

    I’m not suggesting people don’t support OFF. They may be doing a decent enough job. I am stating their “no compromise” slogan is pure bunk. That does not work now nor has it ever worked anyplace and it never, ever will. That is not how politics works. Anyone with real world experience will tell you that.

  36. Gary Anthony says:

    I left a post over at Cam Edward’s blog inviting him to come over and see the comments left by NRA members. He didn’t see fit to post my comment.

  37. gattsuru says:

    1. Stop giving the bad guys ammo. I never want to hear the phrase ‘assault rifle’ or ‘assault weapon’ come out of an NRA director’s mouth or see them on NRA stationary. It’s just plain stupid — you’re either going to end up as a mini-14 was a BAR, or just plain give credibility to that sorta mindset. Ten years from now, when gun-fearing wussies have declared a .22lr pistol an “assault weapon”, I don’t want to have to deal with quotes from a now-retired NRA director.
    We have to make compromises on a national stage, and most state ones, but that doesn’t mean we have to hand out that sorta stuff. We don’t need to appear absolutist, but I’d rather the NRA simply not talk about something rather than try and play middle-man.

    2. Present real firearms education opportunities, including for folks with little background, and make them visible. Like it or not, the NRA is the first and foremost firearms advocate in the United States today. Many people’s first attempt at learning about guns from a new shooter perspective will be from the NRA.
    But finding a local NRA safety or gun ownership course without talking to other gun owners? Might as well try pulling teeth — it’s five clicks into the NRA.org website, few of which are very intuitive. Some states are wildly underrepresented (California has more options than Mississippi!). Others are some out-of-date options.
    Yes, starting up a range is a bit out of our price range. But there are public ranges nearly everywhere — if you can’t get normal folk to help, pay some trained Joe Schmoe a horrifying 2000 bucks a year, or so, to get people introduced in a safe environment. Find gunbloggers and offer to pay basic expenses — a good number do it for free as it is, but it doesn’t help to make allies there.
    We’re going to lose membership from the simple scourge of time; the next generation goes through twelve to sixteen years of schools assuring them that guns are teh ebal that can’t even be talked about. We have to make it as easy as possible for these folk to join the light side if we’re going to have any chance in hell.

    3. Educate folk. Two or three people (with “no links to the firearms nuts”) sending out simple form letters correcting common mistakes might not have too much of a result, but it’ll cost very little compared to the benefit one or two reporters armed with the truth would.

  38. gattsuru says:

    Oh, and in case I and other posters weren’t clear enough :

    Clean up the web-site. NRA-ILA.org isn’t that bad, but NRA.org itself is just ugly. Needless v-scroll on the front page, commonly used links choosing to open new tabs or windows, too many animations, auto-speaking movies, and just general massive bandwidth hogging behavior.

  39. Alcibiades says:

    Well, the corruption in New Jersey is probably the leading cause, but urban and tourist areas are less keen on firearms. The police unions are pretty powerful, too.

  40. Linoge says:

    I am probably going to echo a lot of what has already been said here (especially by Sevesteen), but here we go.

    1. Stop sending me junk. The free magazine I can live with, but 50% of it is pointless ads, of which fully half of those have no bearing on firearms whatsoever. I understand they need money. Hell, I need money. But consider the target audience you are aiming for. Thankfully, I have not received any renewal spam yet (might be due to mine being a gift membership), but cut that out too. Send one mailing a month or two before someone’s membership lapses, and call it even.

    2. Mind your blinking verbage. There is no such thing as a “large” capacity magazine (define “large” for me?), and the only “assault weapons” in America are either in the hands of the armed forces, or in the hands of a very, very select few. Furthermore, the matter you should be concerning yourself with is not gun control, but crime control, and those people out there who are interested in gun control are more interested in rights control… or just control in general. The list goes on.

    3. Not everyone is a hunter. In all likelihood, unless the situation absolutely requires it, I will never be a hunter. Not my cup of tea. I cannot even eat crab/lobster in the shell. However, I do like shooting, and I do like my guns. While I have only been a member for less than a year, and had little exposure to the organization beforehand, the biggest feeling I get from it is a group of people primarily dedicated to hunting. A lot of it is just the graphics they use… people in the appropriate garb, with the appropriate firearms, in the appropriate locations, possibly even with a trophy or something… A lot of it has to do with the products they offer/support. And a lot probably just has to do with their history. But, honestly, the appearance (and appearance is 90% of reality) is that this is an organization that is not really geared towards someone like me… so I go looking somewhere else for one that is.

    4. Tone down the cracker-jack ferocity (but simultaneously step up the honest intensity). I receive their “First Freedom” magazine, I think it is called, and am incessantly amused by the outlandish cartoons and articles contained within it. I am not really sure what demographic they are trying to cater to with that childish namecalling (both in print and in art), but it don’t do nothin’ for me (for reference, a 25-year-old college grad). Furthermore, it only serves to perpetuate the image of the NRA as being some fringe organization that no one takes seriously. However, that is not to say that degree of passion is not without its merits… but instead of just trying to rabble rouse, use the energies to accomplish something actually useful.

    5. Fertilize your grassroots. Every other day or so, I get an email from the NRA or NRA-ILA about some legislation being passed that is bad for us firearm owners, and the encouragement to contact our respective representatives. However, in all honesty (and maybe I am just being lazy), I do not have the time/energy to keep up with each and every firearm-related issue out there in the world. Along with the encouragement to write emails, it might be nice to simply include a set of talking points to draw from, informational bullets, or, hell, the very framework of an email to work with. Yeah, you stand the danger of copy-paste artists using these things and then the representatives eventually ignoring the same email over and over again. But there are some people who would take the basic stuff and actually make the effort to add more to it, and go from there. We just need a little more than a cattleprod to the arse to actually do so.

    6. Consider the future. When I think about the membership of the NRA (and I may just be exercising the age-based discrimination of youth), I think about a group of guys about my father’s age, dressed in flannel and jeans, sitting around some fireplace, sipping some alcoholic drink, with heads mounted on the walls around them. Yeah, a perpetuation of the hunter problem, but also a matter of age. Of all of the organizations I saw recruiting at Georgia Tech (and there were an amazing number, given us nerds barely had time to think), the NRA was not one. In addition to not courting your next generation of members, you are leaving a rather substantial demographic out in the cold, considering how stringent college rules are about firearms.

    So, yeah, rehash of what has already been said, but there you go.

  41. The NRA should do all the good things enumerated above.

    The NRA should *not* get involved in issues where it lacks resources on the ground, such as Colorado public lands issues.

  42. Sebastian says:

    <i>I left a post over at Cam Edward’s blog inviting him to come over and see the comments left by NRA members. He didn’t see fit to post my comment.</i>

    I know Cam is a reader Gary, so there’s a good chance he’ll see it anyway. Also, Cam did say he wasn’t having much motivation to deal with the blog lately.

  43. Sebastian says:

    I think I have some ideas about the mail volume. But it would require applying some database information mining techniques that would be pretty intensive.

  44. Jacob says:

    There’s a reason they send out all the mail: they make money doing it. They only need about a 1.5% return to come out ahead. No matter what you say they’re not going to stop this cash cow.

  45. Sebastian says:

    Yep. I’m a member of other advocacy groups, some of them not gun related. They all will bombard you with mail asking for money, because it’s how they make money.

    I think if you used some data mining, you could probably more accurately predict what a person would respond to, and be able to raise the same amount of money with less frequent mailings, personally, I’d respond to e-mail a lot more often than regular mail.

    But then again, once NRA, or really any other group, figured out that they could make the same money with less mailing, they would probably opt to make more money with the same volume of mail :)

  46. Jacob says:

    You’re not getting it. They do all that. That is why they send out all the mail.

  47. Many good suggestions, but I would remind us all, and pose a few questions.

    1. We are the NRA. It’s not us against them.

    2. Are you active? What have you done in the last 6 months to get someone involve in the shooting sports and/or engaged politically? And I’m not talking about blogging. I have taken 4 non-shooters to the range this year, and 3 of them have joined the NRA. Which brings me to…

    3. Member count is everything. If every NRA member could recruit one more every year and reup themselves, we’d have 8 million next year and 16 million by 2010. Every politician of consequence knows exactly how many members there are in the NRA, and knows just as well how many gun owners don’t care enough to join. If the NRA is effective with 4 million, how much more could be done with 16?

    4. Money. We can’t do anything without it. $35 for a membership is not a commitment, it is a magazine subscription. Membership dues do not pay for political activity. If the NRA is begging for money, it means the membership needs to step up and commit.

    5. Do you attend the Annual Meetings? Do you vote for Board members?

    6. Are you active in local and state grassroots efforts?

    7. As has been pointed out above, no one else is doing the job on the national level. And the NRA’s success on the state level is building a foundation for national legislation and wider political support on both sides of the aisle for our rights.

    The NRA is not perfect, but it’s all we have. We’re all we have.

  48. G-Man says:

    If you want to improve the NRA, have them stop slowly compromising away our rights. Every new gun control law is heralded as a “good start” by the anti-gunners. So by compromising with them, the NRA is only delaying the inevitable because every compromise means you give something away and the anti-gunners are unsatisfied with any compromise. They will only come back later asking for more.

    Second, make your political endorsements mean something. How many people that voted for the 1994 “Assault Weapons” ban have good NRA ratings?

    Lastly be responsive to your membership. If they raise a concern, address it and fix the problem because without your members your fund-less and being broke is no way to get anything done in Washington.

  49. If I weren’t in blog limbo (I’m changing hosting providers), I’d link/trackback this. One thing, though. I keep hearing people complain about all the mail, solicitations, even phone calls they get from the NRA. But I’ve been a life member for years, and I don’t get any of these. What gives?

  50. Nathaniel says:

    Rightwingprof: I get membership renewal notices because I’m not a life member. Obviously, the best option would be for me to become one and thereby allow them to save the money, but I can’t at this point. So they send me lots of mail to encourage me to renew my membership every year.

  51. Sebastian says:

    Heh… if they really don’t send lifers all the same crap maybe their slogan for selling life memberships could be “Get a life membership! Help us bury gun control laws, and not bury you with solicitation mailings!”

  52. Josh says:

    I really wish the money I contribute to the NRA to help with gun rights activism didn’t need to be channeled through the Republican party. The Republican party (at least since the 1960’s) has invaded too many of our rights and only appears to be advocating bigger/more government these days. I also take serious issue with their social engineering and moral restrictions by law which are mostly their forcing of religious views on the rest of the country though the concept of “family values”. I pray we as a country wake up and get people into office who can get back to the Constitution and the general premise of true liberty and personal responsibility. Vote Libertarian for true freedom.

  53. Shard says:

    I have been on the fence about renewing my NRA membership and following conversations such as this one very closely. This morning I got a renewal letter from NRA and when I opened it there was this big, red text, offset at a slight angle to look like it was stamped rather than printed that said “FINAL NOTICE”.

    OK, NRA, you have my attention.

    The letter begins, and I quote:

    Dear Shard (real name edited),

    Our Second Amendment rights are in grave danger because some NRA supporters like you have not renewed your memberships.

    *blink blink*

    What? I thought my Second Amendment rights were in grave danger because some idiot nannies were convinced that inanimate objects caused crime? My fault if I don’t renew?

    I don’t like having guilt trips laid on me. The entire letter is full of “If you don’t want” this or that then you must act now.

    And at the end, the “P.S. Save $2.00 off your membership when you renew online…” bit really kinda got me. Then I looked at the flier that was included that told me to “Go to http://www.nramemberservices.org for all your customer service needs….” So am I a member or a customer? Am I just being nit picky?

    I dunno, I am still on the fence. Not about protecting my rights as an American citizen, but whether or not I will continue to be an NRA member.

    So what would be my suggestion to the NRA? Don’t try to guilt trip me into renewing. I’d rather read two pages of NRA propaganda reiterating NRA’s Second Amendment battles and how I can help rather than being told that if I don’t renew the battle is lost.

  54. Wade Jensen says:

    All,

    I will not say anything new, but maybe will frame it slightly differently. We really do need a “no compromise” attitude as a first step toward keeping our rights. The NRA must understand that the purpose of the 2nd Amendment to provide for community and personal defense. Community and personal defense implies miliatarily useful rifles. If the NRA endorsed this belief, they would be able to keep not only militarily useful rifles, but hunting rifles, shotguns, handguns, and all the rest. As it is, they are losing the fight to keep hunting weapons, never mind so called “assault rifles” and “high capacity magazines.” Unfortunately, I got fed up with the emphasis NRA placed on hunting, and hunting firearms. That was thirty years ago. I have seen some small efforts to bring in folks who are interested in persuing the real purposes of the 2nd amendment, but to me, it still looks like a club for hunting.

    Finally, perhaps the GOA isn’t really a “no compromise” organization, but their attitude is at least that no law will affect those who are willing to break the law, and hamstringing the law abiding should only be done in the rarest extreme. It seems to get results. I would be happier to give my money to the NRA, but I really have to ask myself ” does the NRA represent me?”

    Regards,

    Wade

  55. CTLCatfish says:

    I would like them to be more responsive. As Jacob has said we members need to inform the NRA of what is going on localy, the NRA needs to move on this information quickly. It needs to get information out to the members that are calling them for direction, even a week after initially informing them of happenings in the state. The lack of timely responce, or any for that matter, makes the people saying it’s the Negotiate our Rights Away organizaton when the anti’s claim to have a comprimise, sometimes even falsly, more and more correct.

    My suggestion is to accually get local grassroots organizations started in area’s, at least in my area (Nebraska) we feel that we have no support. If we could get help organizing locally we may be able to become more effective on a larger scale.

  56. Sebastian says:

    I would recommend having local organizations. NRA’s resources are limited, and they can’t be expected to fight every local battle.

  57. Jacob says:

    NRA was the State Associations to take some of the load. As the fight moves from Congress more to state houses and cities, they need sgrong SRAs to deal with them.

  58. Josh writes:

    I really wish the money I contribute to the NRA to help with gun rights activism didn’t need to be channeled through the Republican party. The Republican party (at least since the 1960’s) has invaded too many of our rights and only appears to be advocating bigger/more government these days.

    NRA-ILA doesn’t channel money through the Republican Party, but through pro-gun candidates–who are disproportionately Republicans. The solution is simple: more pro-gun Democrats running for office.

  59. sanchez says:

    I would like it if the NRA would occasionally show us wannabe NFA owners that they actually give a d***. I argue all the time with my employer who is an endowment member. I like all types of firearms. I just happen to like ones that were used by military (just about any country) more than those used by a majority of hunters. A number of those are selective-fire or full-auto. I know there is little chance of repealing the Hughes Amend. in within the next ten years. However it would be nice if they pushed for a tax free amnesty period. Which gets around what the Hughes Amend. does.

    Other than this subject we argue all day about laws. Even though I can’t turn on all the steam when I know he is wrong about something. (Laughs) Doubt he would fire me for biting his head off when it comes to gun laws, but I’m sure he could make my employment miserable.

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