Why the Silence?

Armed and Safe has pretty good coverage of the Sullivan confirmation fight, but notices the lack of coverage on the part of NRA:

By the way, I mentioned several pro-gun groups that have taken a public stand against Sullivan as director of the BATFE, but it seems to me that there’s another gun rights group out there–one, in fact, that considers itself to be the “800 lb gorilla of gun rights groups”–which has remained silent about Sullivan. Perhaps they should be asked why.

I would note that one of our two heroes in all this, Senator Larry Craig, serves on the NRA Board of Directors.  I wouldn’t take NRA’s lack of public support for defeating Sullivan has an indication they don’t care about reforming ATF.  It wasn’t too long ago they almost got something through Congress that would have accomplished a lot of the goals, but then the 2006 elections happened.  I have heard from sources inside the association that pushing relief through Congress is still very much a priority, and they remain committed to it. While I was certainly wrong in questioning grass roots efforts to bring down the confirmation, I wasn’t wrong that the whole issue is a lot bigger than just Mike Sullivan, and ultimately, it will take an Act of Congress to fix what’s wrong at ATF.

This shot across the bow by Craig and Crapo could open the door to Sullivan being more receptive to concerns of pro-gun groups and to try to fix some of the problems we’re having with the agency.  It also raises awareness of the problem.  This can’t be anything but good.   But I can imagine that NRA might think it’s better to keep their attention focused on getting action out of Congress on a reform bill, rather than spending their political capital going after Sullivan, with little hope of actually defeating him.

What do you think?   Is this the wrong strategy?  If so, what’s the right strategy?

9 Responses to “Why the Silence?”

  1. noops says:

    “This can’t be anything but good. ”

    I think that is optimistic but unfortunately misplaced. Having been a fairly senior public sector administrator for (thankfully) a short time, I think you underestimate the sheer spiteful, backstabbing, ladder-climbing, human stomping weasels who achieve positions of significant power in the public sector. But really, I’m not bitter. I’d feel better about myself selling crack to babies than going back. Ok, I’ll stop joking.

    But jokes aside, really, this COULD turn out better, or as so often happens with appointments of this kind, Sullivan will use petty politics to go the opposite route, and bear ill will towards the good senators.

    I’m not saying that this is at all the case. But I’ve seen political appointees put down and attempt to defund projects that deserved funding AND sainthood simply because they didn’t get enough glory, or someone yanked their chain, or some other perceived slight. So good CAN come of it, but certainly “this can’t be anything but good” doesn’t hold a lot of water. I hope you’re right. But I’ve seen the nature of these agency administrators. They don’t have the same incentives that we have in the private sector. They often see perceived or small slights as real challenges to them, their credibility, their authority, and they grab power even harder.


  2. Sebastian says:

    I think in the big picture it’ll help, if the ultimate goal is relief through Congress. It’s going to get senators talking about the problem, which is beneficial. It’s possible that Sullivan could get vindictive, or the civil service protected staffers could get vindictive, and conceal from the boss what’s really going on.

    But ultimately Congress controls the purse strings, and they ultimately control the power. If ATF starts abusing on senators, again, it makes reform through Congress more likely.

  3. vinnie says:

    Keep in mind, Craig has little to lose and bringing down the ATF on the way out is a nice legacy.

  4. Michael says:

    I agree with both statements by Sabastian and Vinne, this could be a good turn of events. Now, if both local and national gun rights groups seize the moment to built up momentum for reform, it could just very well happen. But, we all have to be on the same page and sing the same tune, with no division or fighting amongst us.

  5. straightarrow says:

    I have to ask, are you being paid to write this apologist drivel?

  6. Sebastian says:

    I wish. Of course, I understand there are wheelbarrows full of cash to be had for writing this stuff. I’m still waiting.

  7. Rustmeister says:

    I understand why the NRA is silent.

    They’re playing the game – DC politics.

    If they come out against Sullivan, and he gets confirmed, they lose any influence they might have.

    If they don’t oppose him, they’ll have access later, when they need it.

    Do we really think the .gov will put Ted Nugent in charge of the ATF?

    Then, there’s always the case of dealing with the “devil you know” as opposed to the “devil you don’t”.

    That’s why the GOA and JFPO are so important – they can go where the NRA can’t. They got me to write my senators. I don’t need the NRA to tell me how/when to do that.

  8. Tony says:

    If it takes a gun rights group to get citizens to write their senators we are in a lot more trouble than I thought!

  9. Sebastian says:

    Sadly, it often does.