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NRA Popularity

Higher than both the media and Congress. There was a concerted effort from NRA during the 90s to enter the mainstream, and by virtue of that, bring the issue with it. Clinton, and George H.W. Bush before him,  were very successful in the late 1980s and early 1990s at painting NRA as a whack job of an organization. From “jackbooted thugs”, to laying the blame for Oklahoma City square at the feet of extremist gun rights supporters, it was one blow after another. A lot of the gains we’ve made since have been the result of gun rights becoming credible a mainstream issue, and taking action to attempt to blunt the media assertions. That’s one reason NRA promoted a popular idea of putting armed police or security in schools; it’s a mainstream alternative to gun control, and it’s mainstream in a way that “arming teachers” is not yet.

The media and the anti-gun groups spend so much time demonizing NRA because they know they need to force it out of the mainstream and to the fringe. This has gotten to be much more difficult for them because there are plenty of new outlets people can turn to in order to not feel alone. Alienation and shame are the primary weapons our opponents have to affect a successful divide and conquer strategy. The media campaigns to smear NRA are largely intended to shame marginal gun owners into not associating it, or its opinions. The media and anti-gun groups openly tout other gun owners with pro-gun control attitudes, because they want to offer marginal gun owners an identity outside of gun rights movement, and offer those people acceptance from polite society (for the time being).

I think blogs, forums, social media, etc in our community offer those marginal gun owners a place to find other similarly minded people. I’m personally quite comfortable being on a fringe, but most people are not; they want to belong, and shame can be a powerful weapon in convincing people they are alienated, and not accepted by mainstream society. If it did not work, our opponents would not employ this tactic in such a heavy handed manner. NRA has always had the burden of having to defend gun rights, but having to do so while not fighting and arguing too far ahead of where the culture currently is.  In any political battle, you need to be able to form a large enough coalition to get the attention of policy makers, and not every member of that coalition is going to be someone engaged in this issue on an constant and ongoing basis.

7 Responses to “NRA Popularity”

  1. terraformer says:

    I can’t remember what the name of the org was, but the above also dovetails with what we saw two years ago when a general lobby group the NRA was part of parted ways with the NRA. That group allowed the NRA to horse trade votes on important matters as part of a coalition. The anti-gunners attacked that hard because they saw how potent that was.

    • Sebastian says:

      You mean ALEC? That was recent. I think that happened last year. The value of ALEC was it was a good mechanism to access lawmakers… more so than to horse trade.

      • terraformer says:

        ALEC, yes and my point was it allowed the coalition building you described above (whether by horse trading or other means, it doesn’t matter). By demonizing the relationship, the anti-gunners were able to split the NRA off from that and destroy any value. ALEC wanted to go back to staying under the radar and dumping the NRA was the easy way of doing that.

        This is what we are seeing with Cerebus, Dicks (though based on Troy’s statements, there may be other motives for canceling all of those orders), etc are all trying to distance themselves from the devil du jour in order to stay out of the fray. Eventually the devil du jour will be the top break OU and that is the point, this is all part of a divide and conquer effort.

        • Harold says:

          Well, Cerebus is not in the gun business, they’re in the Bain buy and improve companies business, and they’ve been largely done with that job for a while with the Freedom Group. Responding to investor pressure by even more emphatically putting the company up for sale and getting out of the politics business makes sense for them.

          But it does indicate a ghettoization we are still suffering, we’re still not mainstream enough.

          As for Troy’s … at minimum they’re laughing all the way to the bank; assuming their rifles are “OK”, it’s not like they’re going to have to search hard for distributors with much better pricing than they had with Dick’s and sell everything they can make, establishing a reputation (good or bad) in fairly short order.

  2. Joe Huffman says:

    Excellent insight. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Richard says:

    The left hates ALEC for all sorts of reasons unrelated to the NRA. Google it to see a few. I think ALEC did have something to do with “Stand your ground” laws which is the NRA connection.

  4. Robb Allen says:

    Don’t forget that the NRA isn’t the only horse in the race. My group, Florida Carry, has had success in changing things – for example our preemption with teeth. This wasn’t an NRA thing at all.

    Now, I’m more than happy to have the anti’s waste their ammunition on the NRA while we quietly get things done (although we’ve gotten to the point where even Bloomberg has noticed us), but don’t forget the numerous state level organizations that continue to help strengthen the 2A community.

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