I recognize that NRA is a large organization. Whether it’s trying to balance the demands of more than 4 million members or even just trying to find consensus among the many divisions, it’s not exactly a small or easy operation. Even as large as it is, many employees carry more than their weight. The average gun owner isn’t keeping up with what’s happening in their own state, much less keep up with legislative happenings in multiple states. During an election year, there are hundreds of races to track in each state. With that kind of workload, mistakes happen. However, the response to those mistakes is not always what it should be – and that’s a problem.
As a longtime member of the National Rifle Association and a concealed-carry permit holder, Rep. John Grange was surprised to see a card from the NRA asking members to vote for his opponent, Rep. Forrest Knox, in their state Senate primary.
Grange was even more surprised to see one of the reasons.
The card claimed that Grange “refused to answer” the NRA’s candidate questionnaire, which the card said is “often a sign of indifference, if not outright hostility, to the rights of gun owners and sportsmen.”
According to the article, Rep. Grange did complete the questionnaire and mailed it nearly two weeks before the stated deadline. NRA did post his A- rating on the PVF website, but he called to get a correction to the postcard which was obviously misleading. He was refused.
Grange said he was “really upset and crushed” that the NRA refused to send another card setting the record straight.
“They’ve lost my membership,” Grange said. “I’ll never renew.”
NRA better hope this guy has no future in politics – ever. It sounds like they have not only lost a member, but an ally. I doubt he would go anti-gun, but it would be perfectly reasonable for him to refuse to do any favors.
Before I jump on this too much, I do have a few things to add. One, I don’t follow Kansas politics to know if there’s some key reason why NRA would want to keep the attention focused on Rep. Knox and not concern itself with the blowback from screwing over an A- sitting lawmaker. Two, what I do know about Kansas politics is that I’ve been told there are massive divisions within the state GOP, so that may be key to inaction in this case. Three, I don’t know specifics of their histories on the issue, only that NRA currently has both candidates fairly well rated.
Now, on to my issues with this situation.
One, NRA owes local members answers on its decision to endorse. I don’t know what factors went in to deciding to endorse in a primary where there is no incumbent to the seat and the two candidates are A- and A+ rated. It’s not like there’s a clear anti-gun vote on the line here. Regardless, it doesn’t seem wise simply because of what is at risk – especially when the article cites the Senate as the road block for key legislation. They should answer questions from members in the district about why the endorsement was issued. If one candidate was truly worth the risk of pissing off the other faction of the GOP, then they should be able to say why that is the case.
Two, NRA screwed up a mailing that may not have been wise in the first place. Historically, NRA hasn’t mailed postcards for every endorsement. Why do it for a primary endorsement when both candidates are reasonably well rated? It’s a state senate race. Even if Rep. Grange had not returned the questionnaire, surely he had a voting record having been in office for seven years. The point is that saying he had no grade or did not ever respond to them, while adding in a jab that it might mean he’s really anti-gun, seems quite disingenuous. It seems they should eat the cost of another postcard mailing even if the endorsement stands.
Why should they correct the record? Because apparently this isn’t the only instance of this type of mistake in the state this year.
Regardless of the issues on the questionnaire, Grange was intensely disappointed at the NRA telling its members he refused to fill one out. He said he had heard the same thing happened to Sen. Jeff Longbine, R-Emporia, though Longbine couldn’t be reached Tuesday to confirm or deny it.
If this did happen in another district, they need to make sure that organization’s reputation for actually helping pro-gun lawmakers remains intact. Too many mistakes without a reasonable resolution won’t exactly send the message that NRA will make sure members know who to turn out for come election day. Even worse, it will breed distrust among NRA members who happen to support the candidates getting the shaft. If they follow Rep. Grange’s lead, it won’t just be about the lost members. There is a good chance they will speak out against the organization to other candidates for office.
Hopefully, Kansas Republicans – politicians and voters – will feel like mistakes are addressed in a reasonable and timely way. Like I said, there is likely more to the story than what the press is reporting, but that doesn’t mean that NRA needs to risk burning bridges because of silly mistakes that have fairly simple solutions. We have enough enemies of the Second Amendment without getting folks who are with us on most of the issues to walk away from the table.