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Why Isn’t There a Movement to “De-radicalize” the NRA?

I get tired of hearing this tome over, and over:

There are signs, though, that the NRA is growing out of touch with modern Americans and even with its own members—who, according to surveys, now tend to support restrictions such as mandatory background checks on buyers of weapons at gun shows. The future does not look bright, either. Despite attempts to attract women, most convention-goers in St Louis were white men over the age of 40—a segment of the population on the decline. The classified sections in NRA magazines such as American Rifleman feature, besides all the weaponry, advertisements for gardening equipment and Viagra.

This article isn’t really journalism, so much as parroting anti-gun propaganda. That’s par for the course for media coverage of our issue, but here’s one thing I’ve always wondered about the claim that appears above. NRA is a membership driven organization, meaning the members get to vote for the people who set overall direction of the association. Anyone who’s been around for a while knows of the days of the Knox insurrection against NRA and its leadership. The Knoxers were a faction of NRA that wanted NRA to take a more hard-line stance, and adopt a take-no-prisoners approach to lobbying, and they managed to raise a lot of hell and cause problems for the current leadership.

If NRA members are in such disagreement with their leadership, how come there hasn’t been a movement of moderate NRA members to “de-radicalize” the organization. How come you don’t see web sites dedicated to firing Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox because he’s too hard line? Where are the blogs and forum members calling on NRA to moderate its stance? In a membership driven organization, this is extremely surprising. At Annual Meeting, any NRA member can propose resolutions, and some of them are pretty far out there. So why in my five years of attending Annual Meetings all around the country has not a single member proposed the idea that maybe NRA ought to mellow out a bit?

Anti-gunners needs to answer that if they want to be taken seriously that NRA is out of touch with its members, and if the media were actually doing its job, they’d be asking the same question.

21 Responses to “Why Isn’t There a Movement to “De-radicalize” the NRA?”

  1. terraformer says:

    Why Isn’t There a Movement to “De-radicalize” the NRA?

    Because any effort to “de-radicalize” would be more appropriately aimed at GOA and SAF… :D

  2. Brandoch Daha says:

    The propaganda business isn’t about being taken seriously as a reliable source by the people you’re demonizing.

    It’s about abusing your credibility among third parties who don’t know any better. They’ve demonized the NRA pretty well.

    • jake says:

      i really, really, really couldn’t have said it better myself. in fact, as soon as i read this post I thought, ‘wow, slam dunk Brandoch. slam dunk.’

  3. Weer'd Beard says:

    +1 to terraformer. I’m not a huge fan of GOA and have spoken out against them on many occasions, as well as being open about my mixed feelings about SAF (which I am a proud life member) on one hand they’re doing the best work for our rights out there…on the other its pretty insulting to call up a guy in Massachusetts (and even comment about how my file notes I live in Massachusetts) and prattle on about “Hillary Clinton pushing the UN to Ban Guns”.

    Really? Don’t you think MAYBE it might be a good idea to remove laws like the ones that say I’m a criminal if I don’t lock up my guns here, or allow me to buy things like an AR with an adjustable stock, or a Magpul Magazine, or a REAL M&P magazine, or removing the ability of my chief of police from taking my guns away with zero due process, before we start prattling about the blue helmets coming for my approved, registered guns?

    Also the real elephant in the room is how anti-gun groups have degenerated from centrist groups pushing ignorant laws, to radical leftist groups of dwindling numbers looking to illegally ban guns however they can manage, the Constitution be damned.

    This article is like the New Black Panther Party calling this blog a “Radical Racist Blog”.

  4. Shootin' Buddy says:

    “If NRA members are in such disagreement with their leadership, how come there hasn’t been a movement of moderate NRA members to “de-radicalize” the organization.”

    There was, what 35 years ago.

    The cowards, er, moderates wanted to strangle the ILA in its crib and move the NRA to Colorado Springs to better concentrate on sports. Give up and run away so they could go spill their drinks on their over and unders.

    Harlon Carter and Neal Knox saved us in Cincinnati. Today Carter and Knox would be mainstream or moderate.

    I look forward to the day when an NRA moderate thinks that giving 6 year olds governmentally-provided machine guns to take to school is too much, best wait until the kids are 9.

    • Alpheus says:

      Sebastian, I know you mentioned there aren’t any plugins that allow people to “like” a comment, without also including a “dislike”; at this point, I wish one of us had the time to write such a beast ourselves!

      (While I wouldn’t want to add a log-in feature, I think it wouldn’t hurt to have a feature where you can provide “Name, E-mail, (opt) Website”, and then produce a list of those who liked a given comment.)

  5. St Mark says:

    The Economist is a British publication, and it’s one of those, if not the only one, where a magazine actually take a stance to be against guns as part of the magazine operation. They don’t hide behind “it’s a collective right vs individual right” or “living Constitution” liberal lies. They are out right ANTI-GUN.

    I stopped subscribing to them after I read they openly bragging about banning guns in their magazine.

    Hell, it’s not even a good magazine on economy. To them, every problem can be fixed by an European government if Americans stop being such evil racist self important people.

    British anti-gunners, heh.

  6. Old NFO says:

    Interesting comments… NRA is a VERY broad based organization, not just centered on CCW type issues… The real issue is they cannot please ALL of the gun owners on any specific issues, but I believe they do a reasonable job on presenting us in the best light on a broad set of issues… GOA and SAF are much more ‘pointy’ as they are pretty much single issue organizations… just my .02 worth.

  7. Brice says:

    I think there isn’t a movement to De-radicalize the NRA because I think it’s still too soft. The ILA is great but I’d like to see more funding for court cases.

    Does anybody ever think that the reason most people at the NRA convention are over 40 and white is because they have enough money to go? I’d love to go, but kids and ammo keep me poor.

    • Matthew Carberry says:

      That would be a -great- observation leading up to a response question.

      “Okay, most of the 73,000 members attending our 141st(?) convention looked like (gasp) typical conventioneers, how did the 73,000 people at the Annual Brady/VPC/MAIG/CSGV/MMM Convention trend demographically this year?”

      (crickets)

  8. Jeff Knox says:

    Obviously you haven’t been around quite long enough Sebastian.
    “Anyone who’s been around for a while knows of the days of the Knox insurrection against NRA and its leadership. The Knoxers were a faction of NRA that wanted NRA to take a more hard-line stance, and adopt a take-no-prisoners approach to lobbying, and they managed to raise a lot of hell and cause problems for the current leadership.”
    The move to “de-radicalize” the NRA happened over a dozen years ago when a coalition of NRA staff and vendors (the outside PR company and fundraiser) joined with a minority on the Board to oust the Directors who were demanding fiscal accountability and adherence to fundamental principles.
    Neal Knox was instrumental in “radicalizing” the NRA in the first place, as noted in a previous comment. That comment wasn’t exactly correct though; Neal nominated Harlon Carter to be President in 1977, but Carter was a compromise candidate, not one of the leaders of the revolt.
    The more recent “insurrection” was not Knox against the NRA, it was Wayne and company against the Board of Directors. A majority of the Board was ready to fire Wayne for refusing to back away from multi-million dollar deals with NRA contractors, but they didn’t have the super-majority needed to actually do it. Read John Milius’ description in the Washington Post of how he and other Wayne supporters lied and played dirty politics to save Wayne’s butt. (“we used our best techniques: lying, cheating and disinformation. I didn’t tell the truth for weeks.” – WaPo 8/6/2000)
    They re-defined the bylaws to bring Charlton Heston onto the Board as the 76th Director when he was not eligible to run (but who would challenge that decision) and then ran him against Neal for the First Vice President seat. Heston won by 4 votes and, just a few hours later, was giving a radio interview talking about how AK-47s are “inappropriate” for civilians to own, and how he intended to rid the Board of “radicals.” Over the next three years, virtually every Director who voted for Neal over Heston for 1st VP had been purged from the Board using tactics like publishing “Don’t Vote For” ads in the magazines, and generating propaganda like you just repeated.
    It’s no coincidence that the “current leadership” that Knox caused problems for saw their personal compensation double, then double again, then go up even more in the years right after the “Knoxers” were purged from the Board. (Wayne’s compensation went from just over $200k to almost a million dollars a year in less than a decade. Senior staff is in the $700k range. – check Guidestar.com for NRA’s IRS 990 reporting forms.)
    I agree with your main point that the membership of NRA is not interested in “de-radicalizing” the association, and the media and anti-rights bigots are fond of this tired “leadership out of sync” meme, but let’s keep the facts straight: the current leadership used this meme and the media to defeat and defame my father and “de-radicalize” the NRA in 1997-’98.
    You couldn’t have picked a worse example to make your point.
    Some will dismiss this as simply sour grapes on my part, and I assure you that I do bear a grudge against certain individuals for the way my father was treated, and the way he has been reinvented as some nefarious insurgent out to turn the NRA into an anti-government militia or something. But the truth is the truth, and what I’ve written here is the absolute truth. I support the NRA and it’s mission. I generally agree with most of their strategies and actions, and I think that the current Board is a very good group of people trying very hard to do the right thing. I think every gun owner should be a member and be politically active. I do think NRA could be better and I try to do what I can to make it so. All of that said, I won’t allow my father to be denigrated or his contribution to the cause of liberty to be marginalized or misrepresented.
    Read “Revolt at Cincinnati” (http://www.gunbookstore.com/titles/revolt.htm)
    Read “Neal Knox – The Gun Rights War” (http://www.thegunrightswar.com)
    Don’t fall for the propaganda. Neal Knox was a true hero of the Second Amendment, and he deserves to be remembered as such.
    (I guess that one struck a nerve.)
    Jeff Knox — http://www.FirearmsCoalition.org, http://www.GunVoter.org

    • terraformer says:

      I think your sarcasm meter is broken. Sebastian wasn’t suggesting the NRA was a radicalized org needing moderation. He was poking fun at the people who think the NRA is the radical org as was I and others here. I don’t even insider SAF all that radical but when compared against the NRA it appears to be.

      • Sebastian says:

        I think he gets what I’m saying, but is displeased with the analogy I used. I’m not trying to downplay anyone’s role here, or even take sides, but just pointing out NRA’s had factions that have struggled to change the direction of the organization in the past… so why, if so many NRA members disagree with the organization, is there not one today?

        • Jeff Knox says:

          My apologies for the rant Sebastian. Your matter-of-fact tone in describing my father and his actions really struck a wrong note with me.
          Over the years the NRA has shifted roles many times and Dad was instrumental in the major shift from a competitive shooting club that officially shied away from political and civil rights issues, to a civil rights and political organization that also led the world of competitive shooting.
          The last big up-scuttle was over whether NRA raised funds to accomplish it’s political and civil rights mission or participated in politics and civil rights in order to raise funds. Dad’s side lost that one.
          Jeff

          • Sebastian says:

            I didn’t mean it to come off that way, and I apologize if it did. My only intention was to show that membership who are displeased can raise hell if they want something to change… so if our opponents are right and NRA is out of touch with its much more moderate and accommodating (to gun control) members, why isn’t it happening today.

            • Jeff Knox says:

              But Sebastian, you’re forgetting about the hugely successful (and moderate) American Hunters and Shooters Association. As soon as they offered a viable, pro-gun control alternative to the NRA, gun owners flocked to AHSA in droves, depleting the membership of NRA and becoming the voice of the American gun owner.
              That’s how it happened, right?
              Jeff

    • Jacob says:

      Jeff, you are a very bitter man and it well past time you got over it and moved on.

      • Matthew Carberry says:

        I think a little “bitterness” on behalf of one’s father is understandable and excusable. Particularly when it is expressed as defending his memory. It’s not like he’s lambasting the current situation, I’d say that counts as “moving on” in the important ways.

        “I support the NRA and its mission. I generally agree with most of their strategies and actions, and I think that the current Board is a very good group of people trying very hard to do the right thing. I think every gun owner should be a member and be politically active. I do think NRA could be better and I try to do what I can to make it so. All of that said, I won’t allow my father to be denigrated or his contribution to the cause of liberty to be marginalized or misrepresented.”

  9. Andy says:

    Are there any published statistics on the makeup of NRA membership? Age ranges, etc…

  10. Crucis says:

    Obviously whomever wrote that article has never attended a NRA Annual Meeting. Just walking the halls would quickly rid the writer of his delusions.

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