Josh Horwitz has plenty of reasons to be a sad panda these days, but his latest tirade about how the NRA is just another part of the vast right-wing conspiracy takes the cake. I’ve been a pretty outspoken about NRA not inbreeding with the D.C. right-wing establishment, and staying true to it’s mission. NRA should be as welcoming to liberal gun owners as it is to conservative ones, and indeed, I believe many of the advances we’ve seen on the social front lately is because lefty gun owners are willing to come out of the closet in greater numbers. David Keene comes from the conservative D.C. establishment, and presents opportunity to our opponents to smear NRA as part of the VRWC because of his former role with ACU, which puts on CPAC. The take they are trying to weave, is pretty thin, however.
Horwitz’s rant is ludicrous, even given Keene’s background. Among the accessions are that Keene moderated a CPAC panel, which had an author on it, who wrote a book which wasn’t completely about the Second Amendment. He then proceeds to go after Keene for being “giddy” about the Wisconsin recall election results. Considering Walker was carrying an NRA endorsement, and signed Concealed Carry and Castle Doctrine in Wisconsin, I’d hardly call that surprising or stepping outside of his role as NRA President. It’s funny how they didn’t mention that Keene, in his former role as ACU President, was advocating for inclusion of gay conservative groups into CPAC, standing against the family groups who spoke against it, and who eventually won out once his presidency was over. Keene is someone I’m happy to have on my side in an issue, and I’m happy he’s NRA President. He doesn’t fit a lot of the stereotypical molds of people in the right-of-center establishment in D.C.
There is a more general risk, however, with this kind of mixing of issues, and dilution of NRA’s core mission with other right-wing causes. I’ve always been a bit uncomfortable with NRA’s participation in CPAC for that reason. But there’s a good argument to be made that such participation, if it is the evil I think it, is a necessary one. In order for any organization to be successful, it has to attract a following, which means marketing itself, and marketing is pretty much what CPAC is about. More importantly, for NRA, it’s marketing to young people, which NRA desperately needs outlets for. The question is whether NRA can long mingle with the right-of-center DC establishment without being wholly consumed by it.