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NRA at the GBR

Last month, many of you may remember I attended one of the NRA board of director’s meetings. One of the things that was talked about with some of the folks at ILA was whether they could send someone over to our Gun Blogger Rendezvous in Reno that weekend. Since they were already going to be in the area, it looked like it was something they could do, so it was arranged for Glen Caroline and Ashley Varner to come talk with us for a bit.

The main issue centered around our belief that the NRA has an image problem with a lot of members of the shooting community. As examples, Kevin Baker brought up NRA’s attempts to derail Parker as one example where NRA created an image problem for itself. Chris Byrne focused on the organizations image problems in regards to Gun Owners of America and its supporters, and suggested a few things NRA could do to help appeal to shooters, such as getting the CMP refunded, and allowing the military to sell surplus ammunition to civilians rather than having to destroy it, as is current practice.  The subject of getting a hearing in Congress on ATF abuses was also suggested.

From my point of view, I think the discussion went well. I found most of the criticisms to be fair, and the suggestions to be reasonable and achievable. But the big question put before us bloggers is what NRA can do to change its image, while still remaining a viable organization for pushing the issue forward.

As Bitter mentioned, perception is in the eyes of the beholder, and the NRA is in the unenviable position of having to hold together a coalition of sport shooters, second amendment activists, police officers, self-defense advocates, hunters, and now bloggers. These groups all have common interests, but our pet issues are different. Dave Hardy had this to say in Bitter’s comments:

Egad. I can recall when the hunters were complaining that NRA could care less about hunting, it was all about competitive shooting and politics and handguns for self defense.

And the shotgunners were complaining (with, I think, a little more basis) that they were being ignored in favor of rifle and handgun shooters.

Sadly, the NRA is in a position where there’s not much they can do without pissing someone off. While I think there are things the Association can do to help improve its image among certain groups, to some degree, this is a fundamental problem. It will only be solved by the various groups getting over themselves and working together to move the issue forward. We shooters have to be willing to help hunters stick it to the HSUS on hunting issues if we want them to help us stick it to the Brady Campaign, and stand by our side the next time an “assault weapons” ban comes up. We all have to accept that in politics you rarely get everything you want.

It’s only really by working together we’ll be able to get anywhere, and working in a coalition with mostly common interests, but some divergent ones definitely requires getting over yourself, which is difficult. As I heard SayUncle say last weekend “I’m a GOA type, it’s just that I know they can’t win.” which also reflects how I feel. My objections to GOA have to do with their tactics, not their overall belief system. We all share the same goal. I think too many of us have forgotten that.

15 Responses to “NRA at the GBR”

  1. guy says:

    “the military to sell surplus ammunition to civilians rather than having to destroy it, as is current practice”

    This is off topic, but I’ve seen this mentioned a few times and I keep forgetting to ask about it.

    Why would any ammo the military has be considered “surplus”? Does it have an expiration date on it and they have to dispose of it after it after a set amount of time?

    In peacetime I can see ordering too much and wanting to get rid of it, but with a war on I thought ammo companies were already at or near full capacity.

  2. Sebastian says:

    It does, actually. Ammunition has a fixed shelf life. When it “expires”, most of it is still just fine, but it’s not good enough anymore for military use. A hobbyist doesn’t care if he gets a dud round. It’s life and death for a soldier.

    So surplus ammunition is ammunition that has “expired”, and what we’re saying is that should be sold to sport shooters, rather than destroyed.

  3. I still think there are a lot of folks out there like us who care about all the issues. Sure, there are some divisions, but I’m not sure you aren’t making a mountain out of a molehill. I for one, will scream all day about the second amendment, self defense, and political stuff. I’ve never really been involved in shooting sports, although I’d like to get involved. I’ve never been hunting, but I know some day I will. I think there are a lot more people like me out there than “gun collectors who don’t care about hunting” and “hunters who don’t care about cowboy action shooting” and “hardcore political activists who don’t care about the finer points of gunsmithing”.

    It is just as important to not escalate a known problem as it is to ensure unity. Instead of pointing out the schisms, I prefer to discuss how hunters are affected by an assault weapons ban, or how tactical shooters need the hunting community to show force in congress.

  4. Sebastian says:

    We need more people like you Greg. But how often do you hear “Well, he’s just a Fudd.”, or something similar from shooters? I think we need to get hunters on board, and I don’t think treating them like the enemy is a wise idea. That’s just one example, but you see what I mean.

  5. Tom says:

    My frustration with the NRA is probably more of a frustration with the Bush administration. The NRA supported him very strongly and what did we get for it? Name something Clinton did that Bush rolled back. For example, Clinton put a lot of home-based gun dealers out of business by requiring them to have a business-zoned location, Bush didn’t change that. He said he’d sign an Assault Weapons ban instead of using it as a teaching moment to explain that there is no such thing. As far as the ATF abuses, we don’t need a congressional investigation, Bush could stop it with a 30 second phone call — why can’t the NRA convince him to make it?

    I’ve got to admit, I wonder what’s going on sometimes when I hear things like Jackson’s inane comments and the crap they tried to pull with Parker.

  6. Sebastian says:

    Yeah, Bush has been a disappointment. To some degree I’m still pissed off at Kayne Robinson for his “If we win we’ll have a president where we work out of their office” comment. That was a major embarrassment for the administration, and I wouldn’t doubt pissed enough people off that they decided to distance themselves from NRA a bit.

    As I mentioned at GBR, while didn’t agree with the NRA folks who wanted to derail Parker, I understood why they wanted to do it. Parker was gambling with the second amendment. So far, we’re winning. It’s not promise we’ll win overall. A lot of people think the risk isn’t worth taking, I respect that view.

    The Jackson thing I think they screwed the pooch on.

  7. Jacob says:

    Bush gave us two very good people on SCOTUS. That’s huge and will benefit us for the next 20 years.

  8. Sebastian says:

    That’s true, but it could be argued he was pleasing a lot of other constituencies with that. I’m not saying Bush has done nothing but screw us, but I think he could have been a better friend, considering most people, including Gore, acknowledge we helped put him in the White House.

  9. straightarrow says:

    “Parker was gambling with the second amendment.” Sebastian.

    I don’t think that was a concern for them. Parker was gambling that the problem may have a solution, thus negating much of the NRA’s power to raise money and hysteria, Which in turns lessens their perceived power.
    I truly believe the NRA prefers the problem to the solution for reasons of political power.

  10. Sebastian says:

    I’ve never talked to anyone in NRA who feels that way, including the people at the top. Everyone I have talked to who’s wary of Parker is wary because there’s a good chance The Court won’t see things our way. But that’s water under the bridge now. NRA is now behind the Heller/Parker case.

    Plus, do you think that one ruling would answer the question once and for all? Would the Supreme Court throw out all 22,000 guns laws? No. There will still be a lot of work to do. If Heller wins at the Supreme Court, it won’t be the beginning of the end, it will only be the end of the beginning, to paraphrase Churchill.

  11. straightarrow says:

    no, it will only be the beginning of the beginning.

    I am not talking about what I believe, I am talking about what I think they believe.

    If I am correct, do you really think they would admit it to you when you talk to them? And were you talked to by the policy makers?

    Do you really think the receptionist at Enron had the inside track? Could she have told you? Huh uuuuuh!

    one more question, How do you explain the positions they have adopted in the last few years that have always been at odds with 2A

  12. Sebastian says:

    I don’t know. I suppose they could all be lying to me about their commitment to the issue, and the reasons for opposing Parker.

  13. mike says:

    Bush signed both the gun industry lawsuit bill in 2005 and the Jindal/Vitter Emergency Powers reform bill in 2006. The lawsuit bill was drafted to put a stop to the lawsuits filed by many of the big city mayors in the late ’90s and early 2000s and which were a threat to the survival of the firearms and ammunition industry. It’s hard to have a healthy Second Amendment if there is no industry left to make any firearms or ammunition. The emergency powers bill was drafted to prevent the use of govt funds to confiscate firearms such as occured after Hurricane Katrina.

  14. Sebastian says:

    I agree, those were good things. But I haven’t seen him do much in terms of getting the ATF under control, and his buddy Gonzalez was running around with Lautenberg trying to get the terrorists list entered into NICS.

  15. straightarrow says:

    “I don’t know. I suppose they could all be lying to me about their commitment to the issue, and the reasons for opposing Parker.”

    Comment by Sebastian on October 19th, 2007

    I couldn’t in good conscience say they were all lying to you. I don’t believe it. I do believe they were wrong and I believe it is because they have misplaced their faith and have been misled. There are too many decent people in the organization to believe them all evil or liars. I just think they aren’t really intellectually examining the stances taken by the NRA in recent years and have relied on their faith in the leadership. As I said, I believe that faith is misplaced, but I do hope I am wrong and the NRA has some super secret surprise stealth plan in the wings to counter their latest accomplishments.

    But don’t you think now would be a good time to unveil it, instead of sleeping with Shumer, McCarthy et.al.

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