Speaking Out as “Not NRA”

Florida politicians have been weighing in on some very serious issues lately. They had a budget to pass with severely depressed revenues, they have severe economic problems stemming from some of the highest foreclosure rates in the nation, and they had to debate on a new state bird. Oddly enough, NRA’s name is being dragged into this fight even though they aren’t actually taking a position on it at all.

Marion Hammer, NRA board member & Florida lobbyist, is leading the charge to keep the state bird as the mockingbird. Surveys were done, school children voted, and hearings were held to determine a good state bird to better represent Florida, but Marion Hammer likes mockingbirds. Due to the rather novel and odd debate over the issue, her NRA ties are being touted as NRA throwing around legislative muscle to bully school kids who voted for the osprey. Though she tries to clarify that she is not representing NRA in the matter, her connection to NRA as their primary lobbyist on the ground in Florida, as well as a regular spokeswoman for Florida legislative issues means there is little disconnect from NRA regardless of how much she tries to claim there is.

This is a tough situation for the staff in Fairfax, and one that staff and fellow board members must deal with in just about any non-profit organization. When leaders of the organization do have personal opinions, any effort to speak out will often be tied to the organization. Ideally, these leaders will weigh the benefits and risks to using an organization’s political capital to act on the matter. The risk is only appropriate if the perceived reward is worth it.

Take another example that made headlines earlier this summer. Sandy Froman organized a letter separate from NRA asking the Senate to vote against Sotomayor, and she testified while not representing the organization. She made it clear that she was not representing the official NRA position in her testimony, but that did not stop the reports from saying that she was the former president and a current board member. On an issue such as SCOTUS appointments, the risk of wasting political capital of NRA is exceptionally high. But the reward was that a full grilling of a nominee’s position of the Second Amendment is not only appropriate, but will likely be included in every future confirmation hearing.

The Second Amendment is now relevant in a way it never was before. Though Sotomayor essentially dodged the questions and gave terrible answers when she did say anything close to substantive, it was clear that there will never be room on the Court for a nominee who is not willing to agree that the Second Amendment is an individual right. That’s a pretty big payoff. It also forced NRA’s hand into deciding how much they would tolerate for a justice before deciding to grade a vote. The staff in Fairfax may not like that very much, but it’s a conversation that reasonable people can have as we find that the courts will help define our gun laws almost as much as the legislature.

Now, the question is whether the rewards of keeping the mockingbird as Florida’s state bird is worth the risk of using any of NRA’s political capital. For that, I would suggest it is not. Let the school kids have their way.

10 thoughts on “Speaking Out as “Not NRA””

  1. I’m not really seeing anything that suggests school kids should magically get to reassign the state bird. If I am missing something in the Florida statutes that delegates that power to school children, I am open to see it. Beyond that, I have to stand up and say that too much evil is pushed upon the public “for the children.”

    While selecting a new state bird is not inherently evil, I do question its merit as well as its validity. I don’t expect the NRA to go balls out to stop this idiocy, but if you don’t want the Mockingbird to be your state bird, then maybe you should move out of Florida.

    Ignore this and what’s next? Should we let the kids decide that the Bald Eagle is a sign of aggression that shouldn’t be tolerated by a civilized society, and change our national bird? I may not be the only one that considers that to be the equivalent of fighting words, but if I am, I will proudly die alone in defense of that historic icon of American Liberty.

  2. I know it’s poor form to follow my own post, but there is more that must be said on this topic.

    Once you strip away the myriad of layers of anti-NRA animosity in the article, there may be a valid reason to want to change the state bird, what with four other states having the same state bird, but I can assure you that using the subject as a platform for NRA bashing will not win the writer any type of respect (besides the respect of forces opposed to American Liberty).

    The article was a straight-up anti-NRA hit-piece that would have more effectively addressed the state bird topic if it had omitted any reference to the NRA. For that transgression alone, I say make the FL peeps keep their damned bird for the next century. Let other, more worthy, states pick a new bird.

  3. LInk P: a few notes.

    Item 1: Sebastian is from the suburb of Jacksonville known as…Philadelphia. A little far North and East of of Jacksonville, but those are unimportant details.

    Item 2: The NRA isn’t doing anything in this case, and that happens to be the whole point of the article. I don’t see any commentary on the NRA, but on NRA-affiliated people doing non-NRA-endorsed stuff.

    It can cause headaches for the main NRA staff, and cause confusion among people who don’t pay attention.

    With that in mind, I think we should both pay attention to what’s going on, and not form opinions until we’ve gathered all the facts at hand.

  4. Good Lord, all over a friggin state bird. Seems kinda petty to me. Course, I’d fight like mad over the Bald Eagle, too, so I can’t say too much.

    It’s a bummer that once you’re tied to a political group, you are almost stripped of your ability to have and express an opinion of your own.


  5. karrde, I am an avid reader of Snowflakes In Hell, and was born and raised in PA, although I no longer live there. I in no way was implying that Sebastian was in Florida or disliked their state bird. My statement “if you don’t want the Mockingbird to be your state bird, then maybe you should move out of Florida” was directed toward the disgruntled Floridians, not Sebastian.

    Frankly, I think the whole situation is a bit ridiculous, and the efforts of the media to drag the NRA’s name into it are disgraceful. I don’t have a stake in the FL state bird, as I will never be more than a tourist in that state.

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